NAFRA is the National Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order in the United States. The abbreviation "NEC" stands for NAFRA's National Executive Council.
August 14, 2017
May the peace and love of Christ fill our hearts!
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
This past week set us on our knees asking God’s mercy on our own country, on North Korea and on the whole world. Now our country is again shaken and saddened by violence and hatred, this time by the events in Charlottesville, Virginia. Again we are on our knees, asking our loving God to bring peace and healing.
Something that has been on my heart for many weeks is a renewed call to prayer before the Cross - more specifically I have been pondering St. Francis’s time of prayer during the Lent of St. Michael.
As you know, Francis observed the days from the Feast of the Assumption, August 15, to the Feast of St. Michael, September 29, at least in 1224, by retreating to LaVerna. In my experience as a Franciscan this “second Lent” has not been widely practiced, but perhaps as Brothers and Sisters of Penance we should seriously consider its merits.
My own resolve to enter this Lent has deepened, and so for me a 40+ day journey starts tomorrow. I’m already trying to get my mind around the fact of Lent right here in the midst of Ordinary Time. I know I will be led, but it will be interesting to see just how this works out in practice.
I invite you to consider this Lent, too, as a way to be united in prayer and action - but of course it is only one way among many. Always, in the various ways that the Holy Spirit leads each of us, we remain united - one in our prayer and in our actions, one in our common Franciscan journey and one in our call to live the Gospel. For these bonds of fraternity we are can be ever thankful!
May the Cross which spoke to Francis, continue to speak to us and, in fact, be our very way of life. (see Luke 9:23)
St. Maximilian Kolbe, and all holy Franciscan saints, pray for us! Holy Mary, Mother of God, protectress of our Order and of the Americas, pray for our country, and for us, that we might bear your Son to the world!
Peace and love, (and Happy Lent!)
JanJan Parker OFS, Minister
July 9, 2017
Dear National Family,
May the Lord bless us with peace!
I write to you today from the Secular Franciscan Summer Seminar at Saint Francis University in Loretto, Pennsylvania. If you have been to this campus in the past you know what a beautiful and peaceful place it is. Our gifted presenters for this seminar are Mary Stronach OFS and Carolyn Townes OFS. The topic is timely – Multiculturalism and Diversity.
We began the seminar by looking at several Gospel stories and asking the question “Who is my neighbor?” That answer is clear. More difficult questions followed: “How well do we love our neighbor? What is ours to do?” These are the questions we explored this weekend.
We looked to our OFS Rule and its many references to inclusivity and unity. We discussed the roles and responsibilities of government, church, our fraternities and ourselves in addressing issues of diversity. We examined our unconscious biases, and committed ourselves to become more aware and contemplatively conscious. We learned ways to reach out through better communication techniques and tools to enhance our cultural competency. We shared great ideas on positive actions we must take, and the ongoing formation we can now share. We truly experienced the gift of diversity, and how our differences enrich us.
I share with you one thought that, to me, is at the heart of this conference. In this world of diversity we cannot be apathetic. We cannot be lukewarm. There is too much at stake. We must be prophets of unity, bearers of truth and proclaim an unlimited Christ. As our Holy Father Pope Francis says, "Go to the peripheries!"
We have a beautiful Franciscan gift to give that flows from our Rule: “Mindful that they are bearers of peace which must be built up unceasingly, they should seek out ways of unity and fraternal harmony through dialogue, trusting in the presence of the divine seed in everyone and in the transforming power of love and pardon.”
As Beth Price OFS, from Divine Mercy Region said at this seminar, “As a Secular Franciscan encountering an individual uniquely different from myself I intend to rejoice in a new encounter with the Divine.”
Love and Prayers,
Jan, with Carolyn sitting beside me. :)
Jan Parker OFS, Minister