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The week before last I was at a pastor/guardian meeting in New Jersey. At the meeting, we were given a press release from the Franciscan Friars of the United States which addressed the recent shootings in Orlando. Here is an excerpt from that statement:

“As Franciscan friars in the United States, we of course join our voices to the chorus of those offerings prayers for the victims in Orlando. We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our LGBT brothers and sisters as they grieve and try to make sense of this tragedy. To them we say clearly: we stand with you. But there is another chorus we would like to join our voices to today: that of the voices calling for sensible gun reform in America. Discussion of gun reform always seems to lead to loud voices on both sides, so loud that no one really listens. We often try and reduce the public discourse to a simplistic black-and-white version of the issues. This is not helpful or productive. But, surely, we can all agree that there are some acceptable, sensible measures that can be enacted right now.

More than 35,000 people die in the United States each year to gun violence. When it comes to mass shootings, the weapon of choice has become assault-style weapons. There is no place for this type of weaponry in the daily life of citizens. It is not a weapon of defense or of sport. It is only a weapon of mass killing. We encourage our President and our legislators to ban these assault-style weapons in our country.”

The statement frames all this in the context of the traditional greeting of St. Francis of Assisi – “May the Lord give you peace!” and then goes on to state that “one of the main themes in the life of St. Francis and his followers is the call to be instruments of peace.” Powerful words from our founder, words that continue to challenge us all today.

I stopped in Philadelphia on the way back from the meetings in New Jersey and found several members of our youth group spending some days serving at St. Francis Inn. As I was leaving, they were getting ready to go out to Pat’s King of the Steaks in South Philly. A visit there is one of the great rewards of a Philly trip.

You will notice, in the next few weeks or so, the parking lots around the church will be re-sealed, part of ongoing maintenance to our campus over the summer.

And an update on Fr. David, who had knee replacement surgery on June 20: he is home; going to physical therapy; and making good progress. He is grateful for all the prayers and support he has received.

Blessings on your week!