Franciscan Formation Friends 2021 Newsletter Vol. 10
Week 12: November 29, 2021
Pictured above are the newly-commissioned missioners after Mass at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land. From left to right: Emily Norton, Program Director, Mari Snyder, Sr. Meg Earsley FSPA, Julia Pinto, Victor Artaiz, and Liz Hughes, Executive Director.
Welcome to the FMS e-newsletter! Each week, our newsletter will be highlighting what FMS missioners are learning through their mission preparation at Casa San Salvador, the FMS missioner house of hospitality. If you would like to submit a prayer for the missioners as they also pray for you, please click here to be a part of the Missioner Prayer Community. Enjoy these stories from Week 11!
Restorative Circle Processes
The week leading up to Commissioning Mass is an emotional one for the missioners in formation and the DC Service Corps members alike, as Commissioning marks the missioners' transition into the next stage of their journeys.

To help the Casa community process these emotions, Caitlin Morneau, Director of Restorative Justice at the Catholic Mobilizing Network, visited the Casa a few days before Commissioning Mass to lead the community in a restorative circle process. Catholic Mobilizing Network promotes the value of life over death and restorative justice over punitive systems through education, advocacy, and prayer, and Caitlin Morneau leads a variety of groups in restorative circle processes in order to advance these values.

During the joint session, the Casa community gathered in the chapel with Caitlin to discuss the fears, memories, joys, and sorrows that emerged in response to the upcoming shift in community life. Caitlin asked each member to bring an object of significance with them to place in the middle of the circle as a starting point for conversation about community life. Each member took turns sharing answers to Caitlin's subsequent questions about their favorite memories of community life, their grief at the prospect of saying goodbye, and their hopes for the future. Victor Artaiz, missioner in formation, shared his appreciation for the session:

"Caitlin was a sincere and gentle presenter of a powerful process to slowly and respectfully give space to people sharing and exchanging thoughts and emotions on specific subjects including transition periods as our Casa family is going through. It was a life giving experience that allowed people over time to trust one another and to share deep feelings and thoughts."
Pictured above are the objects of personal significance placed in the center of the circle of participants during joint community session. Caitlin Morneau also asked the participants to write down a value they would like to bring to the circle discussion, such as compassion, honesty, and respect.
Closing Retreat
In the week leading up to Commissioning Mass, the missioners in formation participated in a closing retreat at the Peace Oasis in Accokeek, Maryland, where they processed the ending of their formation with Franciscan Mission Service.
The missioners enjoyed the beautiful landscape of the Peace Oasis, which is run by Little Friends for Peace in Accokeek, Maryland.
The missioners spent meaningful time together on retreat and reflected on the relationships they built during formation.
During their stay at the Peace Oasis, Program Director Emily Norton encouraged the missioners to collect three rocks, representing their fears about life on mission, and three leaves, each representing a hope for mission. When the missioners placed their stones and leaves in the bowl, (pictured above), the "fears" sunk to the bottom and the "hopes" rose to the top, representing the power of hope in God's protection.
Commissioning Mass 2021
On Saturday, November 20, Julia, Mari, Sr. Meg, and Victor were commissioned during a Mass at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America. They were joined by FMS staff, DC Service Corps, and family and friends for the commissioning ceremony and a reception following at the Casa San Salvador.
Pictured left to right: Tori Wangler and Anna Fluharty, DC Service Corps volunteers, joined Meghan Meros, Associate Director, to lend their musical talents for Commissioning Mass.
The missioners each wrote their own personal mission statement and read it aloud to the congregation during the commissioning ceremony.
After Commissioning Mass, a reception was held at the Casa for the missioners and their loved ones. Erin Hood, Good Shepherd volunteer and Casa community member, baked a beautiful celebration cake for the missioners emblazoned with the Franciscan blessing, "Paz y Bien."

Prayer Theme of the Week
Each week, the missioners learn about different types of prayer as part of their faith formation. We encourage you to enter into this journey; hopefully it can assist in your own spiritual life as well.
Lifting Up Black Spiritual Voices
Picture from the Diocese of Charlston, South Carolina
The month of November is National Black Catholic History Month. During their last week in Formation, the missioners uplifted the spiritual voices of Black Catholics, many of whom are on the path to sainthood. The missioners recognized the significance of learning about Black Catholics who faced unique challenges in their ministries due to racism and prejudice in the country and among other Catholics, and they spent the week praying with these saintly voices and uplifting their perspective.

As part of this week's prayer theme, the missioners watched the St. Augustine Gospel Choir's 44th Anniversary Concert, which you can watch here.
To read about Black Catholics such as Venerable Pierre Toussaint, Servant of God Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange, Venerable Henriette Delille, Venerable Fr. Augustus Tolton, Julia Greeley, and Sr. Thea Bowman, click here.
Franciscan Saint of the Week
Sr. Thea Bowman
The Franciscan tradition is brimming with Saints, Blesseds and Venerables included in the Roman Canon. Each week, we will highlight a new Franciscan who lived a notable life of holiness.

Sr. Thea Bowman was born in 1937 in Yazoo City, Mississippi to Methodist parents. At the age of nine, she decided to convert to Catholicism, and she continued to live with this enthusiasm and confidence for her whole life.

At the age of only fifteen, she joined the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, and earned her B.A. in English at Viterbo University and her M.A. in English at The Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. Sr. Thea was a gifted singer, writer, and spiritual leader, and educator, and she often referenced her upbringing as an only child surrounded by "old folks" in Mississippi. She said that the community that raised her taught her to survive amid racism and segregation in the culture, and she learned from them to live by these words: “If you get, give—if you learn, teach.” In her ministry during the national fight for civil rights in the 1960's, Sr. Thea gave and taught from her experiences with great enthusiasm.

At the age of only 47, Sr. Thea was diagnosed with breast cancer. The disease and treatment made it very difficult to travel, but that did not stop Sr. Thea from continuing her ministry of education and racial reconciliation in the Church. The year before she died, Sr. Thea spoke to the USCCB and, referencing her own African-American spirituality and her experience as a Black Catholic woman, she implored the bishops to evangelize more to their African American flock. Despite the pain she was experiencing, she managed to leave a deep impression on the bishops with her joyful presence.

A few weeks before her passing, Sr. Thea wrote the following reflection:

“We unite ourselves with Christ’s redemptive work when we reconcile, when we make peace, when we share the good news that God is in our lives, when we reflect to our brothers and sisters God’s healing, God’s forgiveness, God’s unconditional love.”

Sr. Thea died peacefully in her childhood home on March 30th, 1990. She requested that her gravestone be etched with the words, "She tried."
Sr. Thea Bowman, pray for us!
Let's stay connected!
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