FRANCISCAN FRIARS Office of Communications Province of St. John the Baptist

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October 25, 2018

Canadians celebrate union

BY MARK SOEHNER, OFM

PHOTO BY MARK SOEHNER, OFMMinister General Michael PerryAs friars gathered to celebrate the Chapter of Union in Canada, one elder brother intoned a simple chant from Taize. Soon the whole community was awash with harmonized voices. It was amazing, a quietly powerful way to symbolize the coming together of two provinces: St. Joseph Province of Eastern Canada, French speaking, and Christ the King Province of Western Canada, English speaking.

Minister General Michael Perry and Caoimhin Ó Laoide (ESC General Definitor) were deeply involved in the proceedings Monday evening in St. Albert, Alberta.  Joining guests from across Canada and Canadian bishops for this historic occasion were four provincials from the U.S.: Tom Nairn (Sacred Heart); Jack Clark Robinson (OLG); Jim Gannon (ABVM); and  Celebrated Eucharist as friars from Eastern and Western Canada came together in Alberta.myself.  Pat McCloskey (ESC Secretary), Ed Tlucek (Councilor, ABVM), and Steve Malkiewicz (ABVM) were also present.  And our own Eric Seguin made the journey from Montreal! The evening prayer service at St. Albert Church was full of friends of the friars, Secular Franciscans and Sisters of every stripe.  Clearly the Lesser Brothers are known in this area.

Language is a big deal for these two merging provinces.  Headphones were handed out the first night with detailed instructions on how to use them.  After the Latin Taize singing subsided, the presentations began in both French and English.  The report of the General Delegate, Peter Williams, was eagerly received.  He spoke of the difficulties for some in this union, but said most of the friars were energized by this opportunity.  He named many of the strengths of PHOTO BY MARK SOEHNER, OFMSJB’s Eric Seguin with Holy Spirit friar Manoj Xalxothis warm, hospitable, multicultural and uniquely Canadian brotherhood. That seemed right: Even though the friars from the U.S were not officially part of their Chapter, we were made to feel right at home.  Clearly we were brothers to each other. They made quick approvals of the rules of order for the meeting, as well as provisional statutes that had been distributed earlier.

The formal Foundation of the Province would wait until Tuesday morning.  With the drama of proper ceremony, the Minister General read his own Decrees which received the approval of the General Definitorium to suppress both of the provinces.  The Provincials were invited to stand and return the seal of the province to the General.  Then Michael Perry released them from all their duties as Provincials.  But you could feel the brothers lean in as the next decree  THE FRANCISCANS OF CANADADefinitors Jean-Pierre Ducharme, Guylain Prince, Pierre Charland, Robert Mokry, Aimé Dô Van Thông and Daniel Gurnickapproved the erection of the new province of Canada:  the Province of the Holy Spirit, Province Saint-Esprit, with the Provincial Curia at La Resurrection Friary in Montreal.  And then there was the naming of the first Provincial Minister for this Province, Pierre Charland, Vicar Provincial Robert Mokry, and Councilors Jean-Pierre Ducharme, Guylain Prince, Aimé Dô Van Thông and Daniel Gurnick.

The Minister General then spoke about the service of authority, of leadership among the friars.  The Holy Spirit, whose name the new province has taken, gives gifts for the good of all.  We are followers of Him who came to serve, not to be served.  Michael spoke of the rapid change that we are experiencing globally, in society, and in the Order.  We are much more diverse than ever before.  It is the Spirit that delights in such diversity, and  Guests from the U.S. and Irelandhelps us to respect and fraternally correct in the midst of such diversity.  He encouraged all of us not to forget our identity as Friars Minor and remember that we have a primacy of a life with God; that our fraternal life must be authentic, sober and simple; that we have a creative way of evangelization from our primitive life – sharing as poor, itinerant brothers of penance with those who are poor and marginalized.

That same theme of identity was shared in the comments by one of the three archbishops at the evening prayer service.  He spoke of a young person who found his deeper identity by simply walking into a church.  It’s easy to lose our sense of who we are; spiritual amnesia is what I call it.  The Archbishop reminded us that in this period of purification we will rediscover what is  New Provincial Pierre Charlandessential and who we are – children of God.

Naturally, between the grand ceremonies were parties or dinners.  We are friars, after all!  And the conversation was dotted with laughter, with some serious sidebars.  The reception on Tuesday evening went late, as people were clearly glad to see the friars and archbishops and have the opportunity to hang out with them.  Pat and I left the next morning – heading to Chicago for Visitations and a Symposium on Duns Scotus, sponsored by the Duns Scotus Chair that was funded by our province with proceeds from the sale of our college of the same name.

What a powerful time to be a Friar Minor!

– Mark Soehner, OFM

 

Leaders look to the future

COMPILED BY TONI CASHNELLI

(Before their Chapter of Union we asked Provincial Ministers Bob Mokry of Christ the King Province, Western Canada, and Pierre Charland of St. Joseph Province, Eastern Canada, about the challenges and rewards of the Canadian union. Pierre has since become Provincial Minister and Bob is Vicar Provincial of the new Holy Spirit Province of Canada.)

What are you looking forward to as a result of the union? How will it benefit the friars of Canada?

Pierre: I’m most looking forward to reconnecting with the core values of our Franciscan charism. The creation of a new province is an occasion to stop, to evaluate what we’re doing, and to ground ourselves anew in the fundamentals of our Franciscan identity.

When friars gathered around Francis of Assisi some 800 years ago, they were attracted by a life centered on the Gospel. They were motivated by the call to live the Gospel and to preach the Kingdom without compromise! This is what we will strive to do as a new Canadian Province.

The choice of name – Holy Spirit Province of Canada – reflects a desire to be led by the Spirit, even on unknown paths. It takes us back to the experience of Pentecost, and to the dynamism of the early Church. This is what I hope will characterize this new Canadian Franciscan Province.

Bob:  I think one of the very positive things about our union is that there has been, especially among the younger friars, a renewed enthusiasm.  There is something exciting about what can happen, something hopeful about a spiritual renewal and a revitalization of mission.  Many of the same challenges will exist after our union, but, although articulating and living a common vision is an ever-evolving task, I imagine that during the first three years after union, a more precise vision and mission with some restructuring will occur which hopefully will be helpful to the friars and the Church.

 THE FRANCISCANS OF CANADA

What challenges have you faced in preparing for the union? What are some of the challenges facing the unified province?

Bob: There have not been too many really difficult challenges since we were once a single Canadian Province, with us in the West being dependent upon the East and with many of our men being formed in the East.  Of course we became more Anglophone, and perhaps the East became more Francophone, and regional and linguistic cultures began to differ, but we have the same common roots.  This really facilitated our coming to union.  More precisely, I would say that a lack of familiarity with regional and to some extent cultural differences as well as an entrenchment in different regional ministries created some worries that had to be and still have to be dispelled.

Pierre: In preparing for the union, one of the challenges was to effectively communicate with the friars – every step of the way – to ensure that all were kept informed with regards to the process. Another challenge was to create joint committees involving friars from both provinces, to begin looking at key areas such as formation, mission, provincial statutes, etc.

Given the fact that St. Joseph Province is predominantly French-speaking, and that Christ the King Province is predominantly English-speaking, one of the challenges of the new province will be to create a bilingual environment where both linguistic groups are fully integrated. The new province will be enriched if it values linguistic and cultural diversity as a gift. Another obvious challenge is geography. We are a very large country, and the new province will total less than 100 friars. It will be essential to learn to network, and to be strategic and bold in our mission choices.

 

What have you learned that might benefit others undergoing a similar process?

Pierre: No two experiences are the same. However, I would stress the importance of being able to celebrate existing provinces before entering into union to form a new one. This type of process is like crossing a bridge. It’s important to know, to value and to celebrate where you come from, and to know where you are going. In forming a new Franciscan Province, we are leaving something we know in order to move towards something new. This can generate fear, excitement, hope, insecurity.... However, what bridges the old and the new is our common Franciscan heritage and identity. I think it’s important to stress this, and to make very clear that the new province will continue to value the rich history of the provinces from which it has been formed.

Bob:  I think one of the most helpful things for us was to have meetings of friars, to keep communication open, to address particular questions – this brought us to focus more on our common desires and needs while striving to cope with the challenges.  It also established a sort of momentum and renewed our enthusiasm.  I know that our U.S. brothers are doing similar things, although their numbers and different dynamics present different challenges.

 

How would you describe the special gifts or spirit that distinguish the Franciscan Friars of Canada?

Bob:  I doubt that Canadian Franciscans have any special gift or Canadian spirit.  I guess, however, we have been fortunate, both in the East and the West from our earliest beginnings, to have had common roots and a mission that was not limited to any ethnic or linguistic group.

Pierre: The Franciscan Friars of Canada have an outstanding missionary zeal, and are committed to engaging dialogue with contemporary culture. In the past, Canadian friars have also contributed generously to Franciscan studies – to the rediscovery of our rich spiritual heritage – and have been pioneers in promoting collaboration with lay Franciscan brothers and sisters. I’m sure this will continue!

Canadian Franciscans are fraternal, communion-oriented and resourceful. I’m confident the friars of the Holy Spirit Province of Canada will continue to humbly live their lives in fraternity, and in doing so, will be leaven in the bread of Canadian society. Our fraternities will be places of peaceful dialogue, of unconditional welcoming and of creative evangelization!

The friars in Canada

Bl. Fr. Frederic Janssoone re-established OFMs in Canada.The Franciscan presence in Canada dates from 1615. Blessed Fr. Frederic Janssoone, who founded the Commissariat of the Holy Land in 1888 in Trois-Rivières, Quebec, is credited with re-establishing the OFMs in Canada. The Franciscan presence in Western Canada dates from 1908.

St. Joseph Province was founded in 1927; Christ the King was founded in 1955.

Before the unification St. Joseph Province had 55 friars and Christ the King Province had 32. There are four men in temporary vows and two in formation at the International Novitiate in Ireland.

Canadian friars minister in parishes; at Newman Theological College in Edmonton, Alberta; as missionaries in Peru, Haiti and Madagascar; in retreat ministry at Mt. St. Francis Retreat Centre in Cochrane, Alberta; in service to the poor and refugees; in hospital and school chaplaincy. Friars in Trois-Rivières operate a museum housing the tomb of Bl. Frederic Janssoone.

(Information provided by the Franciscans of Canada.)

  • FROM FOOD FOR THE POORTop, a family in Haiti; above, Paul WalsmanFood for the Poor has a great way to honor speakers like the late Paul Walsman, a friar who, even in his 90s, was still raising funds to end hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean. They’ve developed a project to help the struggling residents of Bas Vaudreuil, an impoverished community in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. “Father Paul Walsman Memorial Village will be built in memory of Fr. Paul Walsman,” according to a newsletter from Alvaro Pereira at Food for the Poor. “The project will directly benefit 20 families of this community through the provision of sturdy housing.” The entire community of 7,000 will benefit from the construction of water wells and the provision of a water treatment unit. During Paul’s years with Food for the Poor, he saw many of the places he described: wading through mud and rats to reach the needy; holding starving children; consoling mothers who lost babies to hunger; and watching kids dig through mountains of garbage for scraps of food. Of his involvement he said, “This has been a real gift. It has given me a greater love of the poor and the poor Christ.” Stay tuned for more information about the memorial village.
  • Reminder: This coming Sunday, Roger Bacon will welcome prospective students and their families from 1-3 p.m. during the school’s annual Open House. “We would love to have as many habited friars present in the building during those hours as possible – be it for a half-hour or for the complete two hours,” says Gene Mayer, Advancement Specialist. “You might be amazed at the positive impression that your presence creates.”
  • The story of Augustus Tolton, the former slave who became the first black priest in America, is brought to life in Tolton: From Slave to Priest, a one-man multimedia drama being performed at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 3, at the Cintas Center at Xavier University in Cincinnati. Admission is a free-will offering. Learn more about this inspiring life at www.ToltonDrama.com.
  • Baptism photos are all cute, but this one of baby Evelyn Marie Meyer and her relatives at Holy Family Parish in Oldenburg, Ind., is especially memorable. Check out the big Pastor Carl with the Meyers at Holy Familysister’s expression. We’re calling it, “Sibling Revelry”.  Thanks to Pastor Carl Langenderfer for sharing.
  • Make this your first stop for Christmas shopping in Cincinnati. In conjunction with Ten Thousand Villages, Malia Designs, and Equal Exchange, St. Monica-St. George Parish Newman Center is hosting a Fair Trade Bazaar the weekend of Nov. 3-4 at the Catholic Center after Masses (Saturday, 5:30 p.m., Sunday, 9:15 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.). It features quality items made by artisans around the world. According to the parish, “Your purchase of these items provides a fair compensation to the artisans and growers.”
  • The Thought for the Week is from Pastor Loren Connell, writing in the Oct. 20-21 bulletin for St. Aloysius in Detroit: “People say that it is no fun to get old. Maybe getting old is no fun, but being old has its rewards. I can look back at a full life. I can let go of past hurts, whether inflicted on me or by me. I can treasure wonderful memories. I can enjoy the present. I can look forward to the future. Death is not threatening. Sickness no longer seems fearsome. Tomorrow has promise. Life is a blessing.”

Habit ‘a sign, symbol and reminder’

(After their Oct. 16 Investiture at Old Mission Santa Barbara in California, we asked SJB Novices Raphael Ozoude and Matt Ryan what donning the Franciscan habit means to them.)

PHOTO BY BASIL VALENTE, OFMMatt Ryan and Raphael Ozoude at Old Mission Santa BarbaraRaphael Ozoude, OFM:

I am excited to have the habit.  This habit is for me a sign, symbol and reminder that I am called to follow Jesus closely, wholeheartedly and intimately according to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit. It is a reminder and symbol of the fact that I am called, like Francis, to live a life that is evangelical: a life of deep prayer and contemplation; a life of fraternal fellowship; a life of penance, minority and charity; and a life by which I staunchly preach the Gospel. It is also a sign that I am a member of the Holy Roman Church; I am not apart from the Church. I can only live this life as part of this family. I firmly believe that if I wear this habit with a joyful and sincere heart and demeanor, I will inspire and encourage others to consecrate themselves and their lives more closely to Jesus so that they, too, may have a joy that is complete and a peace that the world is incapable of providing.

Matt Ryan, OFM:

I am grateful to wear my habit as an outward sign of my continued discernment.  Our Conventual and Capuchin brothers received their habits when they arrived at novitiate.  But I’m glad we were afforded time to adjust to being novices before receiving the habit.  It made our investiture a milestone on our journey.  This outward sign makes me aware that I am deepening my Franciscan roots with my brothers as we walk toward making a vowed commitment.

(Video from the Investiture at the interprovincial novitiate is posted online at: http://usfran.us/habit)

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FRANCISCAN FRIARS Office of Communications Province of St. John the Baptist

That same theme of identity was shared in the comments by one of the three archbishops at the evening prayer service.  He spoke of a young person who found his deeper identity by simply walking into a church.  It’s easy to lose our sense of who we are; spiritual amnesia is what I call it.  The Archbishop reminded us that in this period of purification we will rediscover what is  New Provincial Pierre Charlandessential and who we are – children of God.

  • FROM FOOD FOR THE POORTop, a family in Haiti; above, Paul WalsmanFood for the Poor has a great way to honor speakers like the late Paul Walsman, a friar who, even in his 90s, was still raising funds to end hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean. They’ve developed a project to help the struggling residents of Bas Vaudreuil, an impoverished community in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. “Father Paul Walsman Memorial Village will be built in memory of Fr. Paul Walsman,” according to a newsletter from Alvaro Pereira at Food for the Poor. “The project will directly benefit 20 families of this community through the provision of sturdy housing.” The entire community of 7,000 will benefit from the construction of water wells and the provision of a water treatment unit. During Paul’s years with Food for the Poor, he saw many of the places he described: wading through mud and rats to reach the needy; holding starving children; consoling mothers who lost babies to hunger; and watching kids dig through mountains of garbage for scraps of food. Of his involvement he said, “This has been a real gift. It has given me a greater love of the poor and the poor Christ.” Stay tuned for more information about the memorial village.
FRANCISCAN FRIARS Office of Communications Province of St. John the Baptist

Office of Communications Province of St. John the Baptist

  • FROM FOOD FOR THE POORTop, a family in Haiti; above, Paul WalsmanFood for the Poor has a great way to honor speakers like the late Paul Walsman, a friar who, even in his 90s, was still raising funds to end hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean. They’ve developed a project to help the struggling residents of Bas Vaudreuil, an impoverished community in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. “Father Paul Walsman Memorial Village will be built in memory of Fr. Paul Walsman,” according to a newsletter from Alvaro Pereira at Food for the Poor. “The project will directly benefit 20 families of this community through the provision of sturdy housing.” The entire community of 7,000 will benefit from the construction of water wells and the provision of a water treatment unit. During Paul’s years with Food for the Poor, he saw many of the places he described: wading through mud and rats to reach the needy; holding starving children; consoling mothers who lost babies to hunger; and watching kids dig through mountains of garbage for scraps of food. Of his involvement he said, “This has been a real gift. It has given me a greater love of the poor and the poor Christ.” Stay tuned for more information about the memorial village.

That same theme of identity was shared in the comments by one of the three archbishops at the evening prayer service.  He spoke of a young person who found his deeper identity by simply walking into a church.  It’s easy to lose our sense of who we are; spiritual amnesia is what I call it.  The Archbishop reminded us that in this period of purification we will rediscover what is  New Provincial Pierre Charlandessential and who we are – children of God.

FRANCISCAN FRIARS
Office of Communications Province of St. John the Baptist