Last Saturday, we hosted a day-long Franciscan Spirit and Life conference with the theme of “Dare to be Franciscan.” Our key-note speaker was Fr. Dan Horan, a member of our Franciscan province who teaches at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago and who has written a number of books on Franciscan themes. At the beginning of his talk, Dan spoke about how, for many of us, when we think about St. Francis of Assisi, we think about the birdbath in the backyard. Nothing wrong with that, Dan said, but if that is our primary image, are we somehow domesticating St. Francis, making him a charming figure who lives in our backyard and welcomes the pigeons and sparrows, but nothing more than that?
For the rest of the day, we had different talks that responded to that question and which addressed Franciscan themes. We learned that Francis, a saint of the 13th century, in so many ways speaks to us as men and women of the 21st century – speaks of moving out into the world in relationship with people who may be different from us, speaks of seeking peace and reconciliation in a divided world, speaks of care and respect for all of God’s creation, speaks of deep attention to the gospel, and of humble prayer before God. Many thanks to all who helped plan the day and who helped to make it go so well!
A reminder as well that this Sunday October 7 th at 3:00pm we will have our annual blessing of the animals. It’s always gratifying to see the number of people who bring rescue pets and a reminder once again that, as Franciscans, we hold a deep respect for all of God’s creatures.
Also, an early advance notice – we are once again planning a parish pilgrimage to Italy, to be held in September of 2019; in our early planning we are looking at Assisi, Siena, and Venice. We will have more details in a few months.
An update, also, on how we continue to attend to the news on the cleric scandal in the Catholic Church. As you may recall, we addressed the issue at all Masses at the end of August, and also held parish listening sessions. We will soon be planning a session that addresses the questions we heard from people about “why stay Catholic?” Our bishop Luis Rafael presided at a Mass of reparation on September 25 and has also invited lay people to his own listening session to be held next week. We will keep you updated as we learn more.