Volume 9.06 | June 14, 2021
In this Issue:

Reflections from the Border

Franciscan Annual Federation Conference (AFC)

NACAR Virtual Retreat

40 Days of Prayer
Reflections from the Border - Sisters serving with unaccompanied youth at the border
LUCY CARDET OSF - It has been a little over two weeks since I arrived and began assisting as a volunteer at the Catholic Charities of Rio Grande Valley Humanitarian Respite Center. Another Franciscan sister and I are living with Sr. Mary Hroscikoski OSF in a residential neighborhood about 10 blocks from the respite center. This area reminds me of the section in Miami called Little Haiti.
Mary’s kind hospitality to volunteers makes it possible for us to be of service without incurring hotel costs.
I am grateful for this opportunity that God, through our congregation, has provided for me. I am also grateful for the prayer support of so many, especially our sisters at the Motherhouse in Allegany.
The migrants that we assist are en route to join family or other sponsors where they will continue in the asylum process. Volunteers sort and give donated clothing, new or “like new,” toiletries, diapers, deodorant and other items. Some prepare sandwiches and snacks while staff assist with travel arrangements and maintaining order. Others help in preparation of hot meals. It may not seem like much but every bit helps. 
Recently we were able to provide a change of clothing to over one hundred people, mostly to young families. Most of my time is in the “ropero” (clothing room). Mama Mia - it gets a bit hectic! Seeing the individuals, not just statistics, can be heartbreaking at times.
The volunteers are from all over the U.S. and of different age groups. Some, including Sisters, go shopping for items that are in greatest demand. Not all volunteers speak Spanish so we help each other out. So much has reminded me of my own childhood and family.
For those who question our service to recent migrants at our Southern border, I have two suggestions: “come and see” and “humbly bring the gift that you are”.  For me, this has been an experience of being one Family. Keep those prayers coming, for these young families and all who seek to treat them with dignity. Thank you.

See Sr. Lucy in action in this video.

KATHY MAIRE OSF - “So, how was it?” That’s the question I’ve been asked over and over again since I returned from San Antonio to volunteer with the unaccompanied youth who arrived at the border. Even after a week, I still struggle to answer the question.

There are moments that come to mind. For example, the sinking feeling when I walked into the dorm at the Coliseum and first caught sight of the thousand young boys all dressed in grey, masked, and sitting on their cots. They had been there for at least six weeks and were still waiting - for family, for a sponsor, and for a chance at a new life.

Then, another image, of the pods as they were called, being marched to meals, to showers, to Covid testing, to mental health, to outside recreation, and then back again to their cots. The noise could be deafening - a violent movie being blasted from the front center of the arena, the clopping of the plastic shower clogs the boys had been given in lieu of shoes, the reminders to wear masks correctly and the calling of names to report for interviews, meds, or visits with case workers.

The most touching images were of individual boys- one kneeling beside his cot, his head resting on an open bible, sobbing his heart out. Other boys were kneeling at the makeshift altar to Our Lady of Guadalupe, praying for family they had left behind, and other lucky ones packing their meagre belongings into a duffle bag and preparing to meet family or sponsors.
There were lighter moments, of course. One boy asked me what was the matter with the eggs. Here they were watery, while back home, the eggs from his grandmother’s chickens were firm and had a better taste.  Another struggled to understand how shower gel could be soap which came in the shape of a bar. Others were baffled by shave gel, especially since they didn’t need to shave, nor did they razors.
Then came the emptying of the dorm, as busloads were sent to other shelters to further wait for families or sponsors, for missing paperwork or travel tickets. For me, there was the nagging question of what would happen to them when they arrived at their destination and faced new challenges of language, education, and court dates.
So, in answer to the original question, I admit that I still don’t have an adequate answer.
Franciscan Annual Federation Conference (AFC)
By: Margaret Magee OSF
Like many of the national conferences, the AFC took place virtually. This online conference, June 11 to 13, was facilitated with the assistance of Nix Management, the group that we are working with for our Chapter.

The conference presenters Brian McLaren and Kerry Robinson were challenging and visionary in their call for us to move forward with faith and confident hope in sharing our Franciscan charism and spirituality more broadly, enriching diversity, especially with the young, the poor and marginalized.

The elected leaders of the Federation Congregations overwhelming approved the following statement of this forward movement: A Transformative Resolution Resolved, that the Franciscan Federation of the Third Order Regular spend the next year in a transformational process. The process will begin upon the acceptance of the resolution on June 12. The Board will lead the process and share the results throughout the year with a view to ratifying the result at the Annual Federation Conference 2022. We, the members of the Franciscan Federation of the Third Order Regular, resolve that there be two new voices on the Federation Board: one that is an executive leader of a Franciscan organization and another that represents emerging forms of Franciscan life. We further resolve that the Board engage outside expertise in organizational development and transformation consistent with our Franciscan Charism.

Also approved was the JPIC Resolution for 2021– 2022, Confronting Racism with a Franciscan Heart. The resolution states: We, the members of the Franciscan Federation, renounce the sin of racism and recognize our complicity. We are deeply troubled by the acts of hate, discrimination, inequity, oppression. We recognize our call to be peacemakers, transforming the difficulties, tragedies and acts of violence into peace. Click on this link for a full copy of the JPIC Resolution and Resources.
AV resources/videos from the all pre-AFC meetings which took place in January, February, March and April are available on the Federation website at this link https://franfed.org/annual-franciscan-conference-2021/

As more of the conference resources become available we will send them out.
NACAR Virtual Retreat
By: Pat Klemm OSF
From May 18-20, the North American Conference of Associates and Religious (NACAR) offered a virtual retreat for its members entitled: Associates as Charism Carriers: Embracing the Call to Leadership. Seven of our associates and sisters, along with over 200 others, took advantage of this opportunity to have time to listen and reflect on the role of associates as carriers of the charism.

Sister Carol Zinn, SSJ was the keynote speaker and inspired all with her words of wisdom. The retreat was facilitated by two associates, Linda Mastro and Amy Kulesa who did a wonderful job of planning our time, preparing the sessions and prayers, and setting the tone for the sharing that took place in small breakout rooms.

On Tuesday, Carol focused on our Vocation Life and Vulnerable Love as charism carriers. She stressed our commitment to the future and compassion lived out loud as embracing the call to leadership.
On Wednesday, Linda‘s first session was on History and Legacy – Charism as inspiration for the future. Amy’s was on Discipleship and Personal Call Amidst Changing Structures.

On Thursday Linda addressed Our Evolving Vocation and Amy Servant Leadership: Call as Gift.
There was ample time for personal reflection and sharing in the breakout groups. Each time we gathered in a group the members were different so everyone got to know a good number of associates from different congregations.

Some quotes from Carol’s first presentation are:
  • “You have the opportunity, in a given situation, to be as big as God wanted you to be on the day of your Baptism. Charism is a spark – a gift of the Spirit – only a spark - given for the world to light up the flame of the Gospel. All vocations are response to Gospel call. We are charism carriers from our Baptism!”
  • She quoted Pope Francis asking “is the Gospel my daily manual – is the life of Jesus my model?” Does the charism help me to build up the Body of Christ?
  • Carol defined vulnerable love as being open to all of life. Jesus always chose love over fear, mercy over judgment, inclusion over exclusion regardless of the cost.

In her second presentation she spoke about leadership as a commitment to the future; we are to live fully in the now with an eye on tomorrow. Compassion is to be lived out loud – we are to dismantle privilege, deconstruct polarization and disarm violence.

Association is with the charism, not the sisters. Associates need to be developing their own structures, even to having their own chapters! We are called to be attentive to the Spirit in all things. Our job is to keep living the charism, not just come up with strategies for continuance.

Some quotes from Linda and Amy:
  • The charism will move and breathe as it will. Associates are not helpers but co-workers and disciples. We are not called to be spectacular but faithful! Our early founders were flawed as we are, not perfect, not completely formed. The spiritual life is an evolving vocation. Charism is a favor given by the Spirit. We should not be afraid to be first, or afraid to fail. We were invited to reflect on our congregation’s history and our own personal timeline of our spiritual life and connection with the congregation. What have we learned from the founders of the congregation about leadership? What shifts are we seeing today? Our personal vocation is the heart of what we bring to our role as associates. It determines how we will carry and express our charism in the world.

The retreat was sponsored by NACAR which is dissolving in the near future. Associates were challenged to assume leadership for future interactions.

In summary I end with the quote Carol gave from Rilke’s Book of Love Poems to God: “Flare up like flame and make big shadows I can move in. Embody me.”
40 Days of Prayer
An invitation from the Thursday evening Zoom prayer/discussion group
As Jesus spent 40 days in the desert preparing for formal ministry and St. Francis spent 40 days in prayer on La Verna, let us unite as sisters and associates to dedicate 40 days of prayer to the Holy Spirit beginning on June 15th and ending July 24th the day before the opening Chapter. Set aside a sacred time and space each day, perhaps with a candle lit, asking the Spirit-breath of God to blow over us - as at the beginning of Creation. Whatever time you can devote (4 minutes or 40 minutes) possibly using a simple mantra of "Come Holy Spirit" OR the beautiful concluding prayer and song from #2 Pre-Chapter Reflection or whatever prayer speaks to your heart.

Holy Spirit, breathe into us, renew our vision, refresh our hope and revive our faith.

Thursday evening Zoom prayer/discussion group: Clare Bertero, Harriet Hamilton, Mary Laubenthal, Margaret Magee, Cindy Matthews, Joyce Ramage, Helen Roberts, Judith Terrameo, Kathie Uhler and Rosemary Weiss