June 29, 2018
JPIC survey shows friars are aware, involved
BY TONI CASHNELLI
The photos on this page tell a story.
(35 responses)John Quigley
Last year at Chapter, friars made the refugee crisis a priority by passing this proposal: “We ask that the Provincial Council initiate a study of ways by which we can help provide housing and other needs to refugees and give practical witness to our solidarity with them.”
The answers to one question –“Is your friary/ministry involved in any sort of JPIC work?” – were especially revealing. Friars described a broad range of advocacy from writing letters to helping the elderly poor, from making donations to working on criminal justice reform.
Scott Obrecht(35 responses)
To do that, they intend “to weave together stories of guys doing similar things.” For example, “A number of friars are interested in climate change. Let’s pick them up where they said they are” and communicate their experiences.
What’s more, “It helps friars form a common identity.”
(Have a question or suggestion? Contact committee members John Quigley, Al Mascia, Greg Friedman, Al Hirt, Dominic Lococo, or JPIC Animator Scott Obrecht.)
Mercy for the poor and oppressed
BY MARK SOEHNER, OFM
PHOTO BY TONI CASHNELLIA refugee and her daughter at the bus station in McAllen, TexasOur General Constitutions (Art 97) offer a perspective about how friars are to be in this world. The first paragraph says, “After the example of St. Francis, whom the Lord led among lepers, each and every friar is to give preference to the ‘marginalized’, to the poor and oppressed, to the afflicted and infirm; rejoicing when they live among them, they are to show them mercy.” Mercy is the first step for anyone in our journey with God. It is the place where we meet God the most: when we need mercy. This part of our General Constitutions then asks us to give it away to those who need it the most: the poor and oppressed. If we are fortunate enough to live among them, we are to rejoice.
It’s from the perspective of life from the bottom, then, that Franciscans view the world. Our Constitutions (Art 97) continues in a second paragraph: “In fraternal fellowship with all the lowly of the earth and looking on current events from the viewpoint of the poor, the friars are to exert every effort so that the poor themselves become more fully conscious of their own human dignity and that they may safeguard and increase it” (my emphasis).
PHOTO © DELCIA LOPEZOrientation at the Humanitarian Respite Center, McAllen, TexasRecently the U.S. Catholic Bishops have spoken from the viewpoint of the poor—especially those immigrants seeking asylum due to fear of injury by staying in their own country. Archbishop Dennis Schnurr of Cincinnati, in union with the Pope and brother bishops, spoke forcefully this past weekend condemning the practice of family separation taking place on our Southern border.
But for those of us who are on the ground, what difference does this make in our lives? How can we work to help those who are immigrants, like our own ancestors, who come to this country looking for safety and opportunity? Archbishop Schnurr says we can help in a comprehensive reform of our immigration laws. He says, “There is undeniably a need for a greater balance among national security, legal means of entry and humane enforcement of our laws. Congress is currently debating legislation now which the U.S. Catholic bishops oppose, as it would further encumber our immigration system rather than improve it. I encourage all the faithful to urge Congress to fix these problems once and for all, through a bipartisan effort of fundamental immigration reform.”
There are other issues that our own JPIC Committee is beginning to focus on through your response to their survey. I am certain we will hear more as the year progresses. In the meantime, I am left with the question: How am I seeing life from the vantage point of the poor? What one small step can I take to do something that helps the poor to be conscious of their own dignity?
– Mark Soehner, OFM
Damian Cesanek, OFMSo you’re older; so what? You can still do your part for JPIC issues, according to friar Damian Cesanek. Even if you can’t do the legwork, you can still write a letter, make a donation or pray that things will change for the better.
“My point is that friars are very much interested in peace and justice initiatives,” Damian says, “but when we look at our province, more than half are in their 70s [he’s 75], so their energy is all over the place.”
A former Director of the Social Action Bureau of Allentown, Pa., and a community organizer in the 1970s, Damian came up with an acronym for older activists: PEAS.
“It’s a way of living out our lives where we simply do what we can. Prayer [P] is the first thing to get focused on: Pick an issue, then Education [E], learn a little bit about it. Advocacy [A] is getting a little more involved if you have a computer, writing to a political person or having a presence at some event where people are gathered. Skills [S] is using your talents and treasure. Maybe you can’t volunteer, but you can give $5 or $10 towards a specific issue. ”
Call it whatever you like. “Use any kind of acronym you want. Look at the issues and come up with a quick dozen,” then focus on those that interest you. At any age, there’s one thing all of us can do, he says.
“Prayer always helps.”
A complex issue will receive in-depth attention during a three-day conference in Cincinnati on “Promoting Just and Inclusive Communities in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana: A ‘Whole of Community’ Approach to Immigrants and Refugees.” The July 16-18 program at Xavier’s Cintas Center, organized by the Center for Migration Studies, brings together scholars, researchers, community organizers, service providers, local officials, religious leaders, immigrant advocates and others to discuss how diverse groups in the Tristate are working to meet the needs of immigrant communities. The schedule includes optional site visits July 16, and plenary panels and workshops July 17 and 18. Learn more about the agenda and speakers at: http://cmsny.org/event/cincinnati-july2018/.
BY TIM LAMB, OFM
PHOTOS BY BILL FARRIS, OFMTop, Tim Lamb at the friars’ booth; above, different groups performed every 15 minutes.
At Xavier University’s Cintas Center, there were booths for many of the participating faiths. Participants mingled freely throughout the day. Muslims from West Chester, Sikhs and Mormons were well represented. Every 15 minutes a different group performed music, dance or chant. Also, there were times throughout the day when you could experience meditation from different faiths, as well as time to dialogue.
Our booth displayed posters of our ministries in the Cincinnati area. Many people who stopped by were very interested in our work and thanked us for what we do. Some people I knew through Roger Bacon High School, others through Friars Club. For many others, Bill Farris and I explained our history and who we are. This was their first introduction to the Franciscans.
Organizers of the day said they plan to do this again. For Bill and me, it was a tiring day, but well worth doing again next year!
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