Secular Franciscan Order: Holy Spirit Fraternity
Canberra ACT Australia
April Meeting. Our next meeting is at 8pm on Friday 25 April (the ANZAC day holiday) and will again be held in the Marian Hall at St Matthew's Page. Kathy and Cec will tell us about their impressions of the 'Gathering' held at Riverview in Sydney on 3/6 April. They speak with considerable warmth of their experience and it will be great to have them share with us. We hope to have Fr Joseph Nguyen ofm Conv with us as Spiritual Assistant. He will be staying with Cec.
May Meeting. Cec will lead the discussion, based on consideration of the final sections of the Constitutions that we have been following using the video of Fr Benet Fonck. Cec will focus us on "The Fraternity: centre of life and apostolic activity" (all levels of Fraternity). Please read Articles 46 onwards of the Constitutions in preparation.
June Meeting. Jack will lead us in consideration of the role of Franciscan Laity in the Mission of the Church using a series of articles which appeared in the SFO International Council weekly newsletter. He will also provide copies of the first lesson of the Maltese 'Franciscan Studies' course to help members prepare for the July meeting.
Social Function. Council decided to defer the Picnic discussed at the last meeting until the Spring. We can expect cold weather to start very soon. In the meantime, Council members are going to gather for a relaxed lunch at the Great Wall of China restaurant in Marcus Clarke street Civic from 11am on Sunday May 4th. All Fraternity members and friends are welcome.
Annual Retreat The retreat at the House of Prayer in Goulburn on 7, 8 and 9 March was led by Jim Cronly ofm as Retreat Master. It was very different to his 1996 retreat (on aspects of our Franciscan tradition). This time, Jim led us to a much quieter and more contemplative consideration of Prayer. He introduced it with some symbols of his own and from the book "The Reed of God". He led us through the steps in St Bonaventure's "A Soul's Journey to God". It was a wonderfully peaceful and inspiring opportunity for a real "retreat to God". However, the many jokes produced much laughter but some were 'groan-worthy'. For example: "What do you call a man with a car on his head? Jack!" As usual Jim delighted the children of the House of Prayer, and the rest of us, with his cartoons. Here is how he sees himself.
Galong Retreat. Less than half of us were able to take part in the annual Retreat. However, the Griffith Fraternity have invited us to join with them in their retreat at Galong in July. Fr Patrick Colbourn ofm Cap will lead the retreat. Cec and Kathy speak highly of him in this role. At present 12 members of the English-speaking fraternity at Griffith plan to attend. It is an excellent opportunity for some of us to meet in community with another Fraternity.
Dominican's. The Dominican Laity have invited us to join them for a public lecture by Fr Anthony Fisher OP from Melbourne on "St Catherine of Sienna's Theology of the Laity" at Blackfriars Priory at 8pm on Wednesday 30th April. It should be interesting to hear what this great Dominican Tertiary and Doctor of the Church had to say. Hélène, Kathy and Cec have indicated that they will probably be attending and you could contact them concerning car pooling arrangements.
Regional Newsletter. A copy of the St Clare Region newsletter is enclosed. You will see that a Regional Fraternity day at Waverley in Sydney is planned for May 17th. Possible attendances and transport arrangements can be discussed at our next meeting.
Eucharistic Adoration. A large document has been received from Dr Gary Harker sfo. It will be available at the April meeting for circulation. It has material on the Blessed Sacrament from St John Vianney, Cure of Ars (a member of the Third Order), Saint Peter Julian Eymard, founder of the Blessed Sacrament fathers (a member of the Third Order as a young priest), Pope St Pius X, Saint Elizabeth of Hungary and Saint Margaret Mary.
Twinned Fraternity. Fraternity Council has agreed to twinning with the St Francis of Assisi Fraternity in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. We will exchange newsletters so that we can get to know one another as Fraternities. We will also exchange lists of members and hopefully some of us will correspond so that we can get to know one another as individuals.
Absences. Hélène and Marty will be away for our ANZAC Day meeting. Hélène, as usual, will be away a great deal over the next couple of months. She will be leaving on May 7th for Port Douglas and on to Vanuatu. She may then go to China with her husband, Eric, but should be back for the June meeting.
Vocations. Cec has proposed that we pray at every meeting for vocations to the Secular Franciscans.
The Fraternity. In preparation for the May meeting, you may care to give some consideration over the next month to this article by Emerenziana Rossato.
After meditating on Vocation, Profession and the Rule, now we would like to meditate on the Fraternity: focal point and integral part of our vocation. It is the basic cell of the Order, visible sign of the Church, a supernatural reality based on the paternity of God and on brotherhood in Jesus Christ experienced in the strength of the Holy Spirit. It is a gift of the Spirit to Its Church to be received in gratitude, sharing gifts in order to become a sign of communion and unity "for those who believe in me because of their message" (Jn 17,20).
Near that hierarchy is the prophetic and charismatic presence of the Church which participates in its mission. It is the special place where its brothers and sisters are assisted in becoming more aware of their baptismal dignity, in living their belonging to the Church, in making present within the Church the Franciscan charisma, in maturing their faith and become witnesses of Christ's resurrection.
The SFO in the world is the body, and the Fraternities are the parts of this body that sustain it. Each Fraternity has its own configuration and physical make-up, but it is not and cannot be isolated from the others. This could be stifling. It is deleterious to weaken the sense of belonging to the entire SFO and remain closed within the small environment of one's own Fraternity because it deprives us of that vital lymph the Order transmits. The Fraternity is a living gift which should always be carried inside oneself which is quite different from just having meetings: these only mark the rhythm of making the way.
It has its Council that animates and guides it, organising its meetings so that its members grow on a doctrinal, spiritual, psychological and social level. This is all done to lead the Fraternity to becoming a mother who continually generates Francis' followers, and a teacher that educates and forms them.
Each elected Fraternity has a juridical personality and fulfils its purpose in the name of the Church which in itself has the power to watch over it and to intervene, but also to promote and guide it when necessary. Belonging to the SFO and living the Fraternity are gifts that merit a generous answer without reserve. It is God's gift, and we accept it in answer to His grace.
Next Council Meeting: 8pm Wednesday 14 May at Pam's place.
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