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February 2001

Secular Franciscan Order: Holy Spirit Fraternity
Canberra, Australia


Next Fraternity Meeting. Next Fraternity meeting will be held on Friday 23 February 2001 at 8pm at the Marian Hall, St Matthew's Church, Page. We shall have a guest speaker, Sr. Eileen Reardon, RSJ, who will speak to us of her ministry as a prison chaplain.

Annual Retreat Our Annual Retreat will be held over the weekend 23-25 March 2001 at the House of Prayer, Taralga Rd., Kenmore, Goulburn. Hélène Anderson is coordinating the arrangements and would appreciate being advised by Friday 16 March at the very latest of the names of those attending and if transport is needed. Hélène's telephone number is 6287 5510. Fr Carl Schafer has kindly agreed to be Retreat Director. The cost of the Retreat will average out at $85 per person. As usual if any member has difficulty meeting the full amount a confidential chat with Hélène in her dual capacity as Coordinator and Treasurer should resolve the problem. It goes without saying that any contributions of more than $85 would be very much appreciated. Everyone is encouraged to invite a friend to this weekend.

March Fraternity Meeting. There will be no Fraternity meeting as such during March as we will all, hopefully, be attending the Annual Retreat.

Regional Days. Loui has received advice of the Regional Days for this year: They are:

All will be at St Joseph Hall, Albert St Edgecliff, starting at 10.30 with a cup of tea and concluding at 3.30 pm (Bring lunch to share).

Ongoing Formation 2001. The Council suggests to the Fraternity that the Formation Program during the remainder of 2001 be focused on the Rule (NB. not the Constitutions). We would share out the job of leading the discussion each member taking a turn to prepare some thoughts on a particular section of the Rule while the others read the nominated section so as to be able to contribute to the discussion. The aim of the session leader should be to keep the discussion as simple as the subject allows without descending into platitudes or stating the obvious.


National Elective Chapter. The National Elective Chapter was held in Sydney over the weekend 9-11 February 2001. Unfortunately cost and other commitments prevented our Fraternity being represented. We do not know, just now, the results of the elections.

Diana's farewell. Hélène kindly hosted a farewell to Diana. See the message from Diana below.


Kathryn G. Loui says that he had a long conversation with Kathy the other day. She is going through a lot of pain and was waiting to be admitted to a hospital in Sydney in order to manage the pain. Kathy talked with passion about our meetings, sends greetings to all and would like us to continue to pray for her as she is also praying for us.

Marta. Loui also visited Marta. Marta remembers most of us, praying for our Fraternity and would like to say hello to everyone in the Fraternity. She praises Sylvia for looking after her and calls her: "her angel guardian".

Marjorie. Jack had a telephone call from Marj Mackay a few days before Christmas. She sends us her greetings. She was worried because she had not been able to contact Sylvia but Jack was able to reassure her that he had dropped Sylvia home to Beasley Street after the Day of Reflection. Marj suggested that we might again consider having a Mass at the Cross on her property. Although Easter might be difficult, she wondered whether late Lent or between Easter and Pentecost might be appropriate. Perhaps Council would be kind enough to consider this proposal.

Fr Carl Schafer. Fr Carl sent us Christmas greetings:

Church weddings seem to be in vogue these days, but often without Nuptial Mass. What surprises me is that the couples, when asked to choose their own scripture readings, choose the ones that vigorously reject divorce. It just goes to show that, on the big day, they definitely want it to last "for ever". I'm averaging one marriage a month.

The last weekend of October was eventful. In the morning of 29 October, I celebrated Mass in Italian at the Pauline Fathers' Shrine, Penrose Park, and blessed the statue of Our Lady of Sinopoli. In the afternoon, here at Maryfields, we held the Way of the Cross for the faithful departed, anticipating All Souls' Day. It was too windy to light the votive candles at the Calvary Station, so we brought them back to our chapel to light them there. Not a good idea. I was wary of them and checked a few times from my office nearby. But then the smoke detectors went crazy and I rushed in to find a sizable fire. I ended up with badly burnt thumbs and four fingers that needed daily dressing for two weeks. The thumbs still need attention, but they are healing well.

The incident didn't deter me from visiting Smithton, in Tasmania, together with Tod Walker, the SFO National Minister, from 4 to 6 November. We carried out the canonical establishment of a new SFO Fraternity and the elections of the Regional Executive. We enjoyed the weekend immensely.

The next weekend found me in Port Macquarie, conducting a retreat for the three SFO Fraternities of the mid-north coast of N.S.W. That, too, was most enjoyable. After the retreat, I visited a friend whom I grew up with when we were aged 8 to 16. He is Terry Curley, who went on to be one of Australia's finest rugby union players.

I gave a Retreat for Our Lady's Nurses (the "Brown Nurses"), in their motherhouse at Coogee, from 19 to 24 November. It's the retreat season. I've just made my own annual retreat at Waverley, from 4 to 8 December. Fr Hugh Walsh OFM did a good job for us.

Christmas greetings are in order. Christmas should be special in this year of the Jubilee, as we celebrate the two thousandth anniversary of the birth of Jesus. Let us pray earnestly for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians in the land where our Saviour was born. May you enjoy genuine peace in your own life and share your peace with everyone you meet.

Fr Carl also wrote to us on 1 February:

Brother Sun has dominated a sweltering summer sky during Advent, Christmas and New Year. We can expect more of the same during February. A fire-bug has taken a special liking to the bush near our front entrance and in one week has lit two fires, which the Fire Brigade was quick to put out, thank the Lord.

Before Advent, the Sisters of St Clare moved out of St Clare's Convent in our old "Maryfields" building, leaving the top floor for the Recovery Centre and the ground floor free for us friars to use. We have changed the name to St Francis Centre. On the four Saturdays of Advent, we ran an Advent programme of prayer and preparation for the Sunday readings. We will continue to hold the Adoration Hour that the Sisters hosted on the first Monday of each month.

On 2 December, I had the pleasure of celebrating Mass on the 50th Anniversary of the marriage of Bill and and Dawn Crowe, Secular Franciscans, at Epping. A few days ago, in St Clare's Convent Chapel, Waverley, I officiated at the wedding of Tyrone Digby, son of our cook at Edgecliff Friary. I knew his Dad and Mum thirty-five years ago.

We celebrated Christmas Eve and Day by supplying Masses in various parishes, and enjoyed dinner in the evening, when all could be present and relax. My overseas friends find it hard to imagine a scorching Christmas Day. In the evening it was slightly cooler than at midday.

At present, six friars reside at Maryfields. Fr Allan Hartcher is our seventh, but he resides permanently at St Clare Presbytery, Narellan Vale. In addition to looking after the Poor Clare Monastery up the road, each of us has his own commitments. We decided to celebrate in our friary chapel St Anthony's Novena of Masses each month, from the 5th till the 13th. We have invited everyone to send in their petitions, which we will add to our own intentions for relatives, friends and benefactors. We have already had an enthusiastic response.

I'm fortunate that my two sisters live only forty-five minutes by car from here, Gwen at Woonona and Margaret at Mount Ousley. Gwen had a colostomy recently and has made a remarkable recovery, thanks be to God. St Anthony may have put in a good word.

This year, for the second time, we will conduct the Way of the Cross in the open, following the Stations in the grounds at Maryfields, on the Sundays of Lent and on Palm Sunday, at 3.p.m. I'm in the throes of sending letters to schools and parishes in the Wollongong diocese, organizing a roster of duties, and tying up the loose ends.

I'm looking forward to the retreat at Goulburn, from 23 to 25 March. Would you have the programme of last year's retreat, or one of recent years, to give me an idea of what Canberra Fraternity does in their retreat? If no programme exists, could you sketch an outline of what they would expect? That would be a great help.

Best wishes to all. Carl Schafer OFM

Diana Low wrote on 29 January:

Dear Friends:

How are you? Just a note to thanks everyone who have given me a memorable farewell, I will miss you all.

I have been back home for about a week and have slowly getting settled in life back in Singapore.

I was sick when I come back on the 21st, I have a mild fever and my cough have turn to mild bronchitis, I was very weak the first couple of days prior to Chinese New Year, as I was allergic to the fever medication that the doctor gave me. I lost a lot of stamina, but luckily, after stopping the medication I regain my strength.

Things are pretty busy because of the New Year celebration. I am taking things at a slower pace, in order to regain my strength - putting off visiting my friends if possible. Some of my friends even came to visit me at home.

I only manage to complete my unpacking yesterday. But at least I did it - it is a mammoth task as space is very limited here, that is why I am looking forward to moving back to my own flat.

By the way, I am now connected again to cyberspace, my new email address is:

On 8 February Diana sent the following material on the Tau Cross:

FRANCIS, The man with a Tau on forehead.

Francis had an incredible; one even is inclined to say an excessive devotion for the sign of the TAU.

We know from the sources that he signed his letters with a TAU, like the one he wrote to Fra Leone, preserved in the basilica of the Saint at Assisi. It has a big T written on it, and around it he wrote the words: "May the Lord bless you, Fra Leone". Celano says that he has a small stick marked with a T and he touched the sick with it and healed them (FF. 980). Once Fra Pacifico saw the Saint in a vision: on his forehead he had a big T, striking because of its many colours; it made his face resplendent with marvellous beauty (FF. 1347). In short, it was his mark, his seal. So much so that St. Bonaventure could write in the introduction to the life of St. Francis: "He had received from heaven the mission to call people to weep, to lament, to shave their heads, to put on a sack and to mark those who grieve and lament with the sign of the penitential cross, with a vestment in the form of a cross, and with the T on their forehead" (FF. 1022). And in the short biography even succinctly; "It looked as if his whole mission consisted, to speak with the prophet, in marking with the T the foreheads of the people who grieve and lament in the process of turning sincerely to Christ" (FF. 1346)

But what does this T mean? Francis was inspired by a text from the Bible:

The glory of the God of Israel rose from above the winged creature where it had been, towards the threshold of the Temple: He called to the men dressed in linen with a scribe's inkhorn in his belt and Yahweh said to him, "Go all though the city, all through Jerusalem, and mark a Tau on the foreheads of all who grieve and lament over loathsome practices in it." (EZ. 9, 3-5)

This sign of TAU, which in the Hebrew alphabet had the form of a small cross, is mentioned again in the book of Revelation of St. John where it speaks of the angel rising in the east who had the seal of the living God with which he marks the foreheads of his servants (cf. Rv. 7, 2f). The prophetic sign has by now become a reality: it is the cross of Christ, with which are signed those who have turned to God, turned away from the idols and received baptism to be saved. The hundred and forty-five thousands sealed with the sign are those who will escape extermination.

Francis was the man dressed in linen with a scribe's inkhorn in his belt, sent by God to mark with a T the forehead of those who accepted to do penance. He was the angel rising in the east, carrying - in his flesh - the seal of the living God - the cross - and he in turn imprinted it on the forehead of his contemporaries. He marked with it the forehead of those who grieved and lamented over all the loathsome practices of their own hearts and of the Church. Of those who remained faithful to Jesus.

(Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa.)

Teresa Palmittessa has sent her greetings again and wrote:

"Assure Cec that he is in our prayers and thoughts." Teresa has also forwarded the following prayer request to us.


Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Please keep in your prayers Marianne Powell SFO, who need to undergo surgery to remove a brain tumor this Monday, February 12, 2001.

At the SFO General Chapter in 1996, Marianne Powell was elected for a second term to represent the English speaking Fraternities in the Presidency of the International Council of the SFO.

Please pray for Marianne and for her family, her two daughters and her grand-children.

Br. Ben Brevoort OFMCap

SFO General Assistant


Prayer Apostolate Activity. Please pray for all members who are experiencing difficulties with their health, including Cec who was discharged from hospital on 12 February following treatment for a bacterial infection of the blood.

Regional and National Levies. Levies are due 1st January each year. The amount of $30.00 per professed member has to be sent to the Regional Treasurer. She will in turn forward the National Levies on the National Treasurer. Hélène will collect the levies from us at the next meeting.

Edmonton Fraternity Newsletter.

This is a compilation of an exercise our twinned fraternity in Edmonton did last month.



Stepping in to help out when you can to make a situation go smoother, and bring peace and relief. When I reach out to someone and introduce a 12-step program to them. If they accept I feel that I am a channel of your peace. God's peace is sometimes hard to see. If I have his peace I naturally pass it to others. Help me, Lord to have your peace so that I can give it to others. Empty me of the bondage of self. Lord let your peace dwell within me and grant me the grace to give others peace. Let me be peaceful even in difficult times, to be quiet and gentle. Lord help me be considerate.


So that I may love with your love: Forgiving people who don't like you, and hurt you and you still love them with God's help. I must be forgiving to those who dislike me. Treat everyone as if they were the best of the human race. Worthy of love. When anyone feels hurt and full of hate, give me the grace to help pour your love, Lord, into his spirit. To show your light of acceptedness of the other person. Make peace and forgive.


and forgive as you forgive me. Sometimes its hard to forgive and we need to pray a lot for God's help. Hold no grudge even when hurt and forgive. Let it be as if nothing happened. Not even refer to the injury, pray for them instead. When I am hurt by someone, being able to pray over the situation. Should someone hurt me, To forgive and move on, go forward. Forgive and love. Lord help me to be quick to forgive him/her in your name.


Reaffirm someone's self?worth when they ace discouraged. Being Christ for others, living a life of faith. Never doubt. I will cling to the Lord throughout my trials. Reaching out at an appropriate time with food advice. Have I any doubts, grant me Lord the faith and trust of Abraham: Help me overcome the fear that prevents me from turning to you, Lord.


Let the light of that faith radiate in hope ? by our loving support we give others hope and by living example we help lead them to Christ. Hope for God's love. More than ever I cling to the Lord throughout my trials Sharing an AA meeting and letting the newcomer know that the 12 step program works. Insecurity brings light, Should I be tempted to despair as you did, Lord, in the garden of Gethsemane "My God, My God why have you abandoned me?" Help me to abandon myself to you in love.


and dispel the evil of darkness around me again its by living a good example by living the gospel as St. Francis did that we witness the light of Christ. Always look for brighter light. There is darkness all around me and my brothers and sisters help me see the light. Sharing my wisdom where it is needed. God, you are always the light of life. Keep me ever in your light. May I be a source of light for others in the "darkness of the Soul," and splash the sunshine of God's love around those who are despondent.


To show forth my true self as a child of light. As we be there for others in their time of sadness we can lead them to the Joys of Heaven. Don't conceal your sadness but strive to wear the garments of joy, offer it all up to the Lord. When taking to someone, they become happy or when they read something I gave them and it helps them to got out of sadness. Am I sad, Lord? Help me to place my trust in you to feel the joy of your love for me


And think more of others than I do myself. To be there for others we need to make sacrifices and be less selfish. Rather that I console someone in whatever need they are in. I need to be consoled in my bereavement but must be aware of those brokenhearted also need to be consoled. When I am able to listen to somebody's whining and complaints and be able to make constructive suggestions. Lord, help me to see the needs of others before my own.


To listen with your ears to others, to show them how much we care. As we need someone to listen to us as well. It is not necessary for me to be understood - better that I understand the problems of others. I rejoice when I can relate and am appreciated but I must leave room for my friend to express her need to be understood. Listen to the troubles of others. To be able to listen as well as present my side of the story. Lord make me listen and hear the voice of others.


To love as you love. Always be loving even if it seems like a little deed. That I be loved is the lesser need. I must always love others. We do not receive love unless it is first given. I thrive when I am loved, not scoffed, mocked or laughed at. Likewise I need to love the scoffers and the less fortunate. To be compassionate to them. Letting people love me when I cannot love myself like after my heart attack, my mother took care of me. Grant that I may always be ready to love others. Help me to love all people as I love you so that they may see God in others.


For to receive you is life ? as we are emptied of self that we are filled with God. What we take with us when we die is what we have given to God. Giving is more important than to receive. When I give freely of my joy, love and laughter I feel God's blessing come upon me. Also to freely give to the poor even our time with them. Sharing my story of recovery from alcoholism, I gain another day of sobriety. Lord, help me have a giving heart.


To imitate you is what I am gifted to do as we forgive others God forgives us. When we pardon anyone who has hurt us, we immediately feel the joy of forgiveness that comes from the presents of God. Always pardon and God will pardon you. If I forgive I also pardon that person and see him as if the hurt never happened. The Lord's Prayer "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those..". This is the Golden Key Hold no grudges, Pray for our oppressors. Forgiving other people who have hurt me emotionally or financially, I was forgiven for hurts I caused. Someone said to me "even if you cannot forgive act as if you have forgiven and the forgiveness will come." Help me forgive others and feel the forgiveness in my heart


For only then am I one with you. You in me and I in you. In total giving we are completely filled with God and completely satisfied. When we die to self during our life, we little by little reach eternal life. Not be attached to the world things. Die in our own self. In the end only my good deeds and prayers will follow me. I can take no material goods with me. Lord help me to always be in your grace so that I may be with you for eternity.

Prayers. Please remember to pray for vocations:

"Gracious God, we pray that men and women might respond generously to Your call to ministry in the Church; --- And may You increase our Franciscan community by calling those dedicated to penance and the Gospel life."

Celebrate. We like to celebrate the landmarks of life and remember in our prayers those who have them. In the month of February we celebrate:

Next Council Meeting Is tentatively to be held at Hélène's home on Tuesday 3 April. However, a Council meeting held at the time of the Retreat may overtake it.

Input for the Canberra Franciscan and requests to Jack Smith : phone 61-2-6258 3824