Friday, October 30, 2009

Care for Creation (C4C) Fall Harvest Festival!

On October 24th the Care for Creation "Pilot Project" wrapped up a successful 1st season with a Fall Harvest Festival at St. Bernardine's Monastery in Hollidaysburg, PA. Despite inclement weather in the morning, the festival was attended by approximately 80 persons. The evening began with a prayer of thanksgiving followed by fellowship in the C4C Center. From there we gathered at a bonfire to listen to some excellent folk music provided by Justin Cain, one of our C4C members. A little later on I told a couple of stories to prepare everyone for a "haunted hayride" experience. Since we are closing in on the Catholic Feast of All Saints and All Souls, the first story focused on St. Francis and the wolf of Gubbio and the second on a fictional (or was he?) friar named "Larry" who mysteriously died in the 1930's and who's spirit still haunts the Monastery grounds (especially during the end of October, ironically enough ;) After the "tales at the bonfire" we had a hayride which went around the property. And, wouldn't you know it, "Scary" Larry made an appearance! All in all it was a wonderful evening of getting to know one another and sharing in food, laughter, and even some screams!

For those unfamiliar with C4C, it very basically refers to the contemporary movement within Franciscan circles to explore and make application of the Franciscan heritage of concern and care for all of God's creatures. Over the past 8 months or so, our community has launched an effort to see if there is interest in the area regarding care for creation style programming (presentations on organic gardening and forming a spirituality that is more environmentally concerned and focused), building community, and doing organic gardening. As of now we have more than 100 names on our general email/contact list. Not a bad job for one season! Hopefully we will continue to move forward with this project as a community and experience even more success in the future! Peace, Pat, TOR

Friday, October 9, 2009

"Inspiring" Aspirant Weekend

Happy Feastday of St. Francis! This past weekend (October 2nd-4th) the formation house in Minneapolis, MN, hosted three inquirers for the first of four "Aspirant" weekends. The Aspirant program was designed by Br. David Liedl, our former vocation director, to accommodate the discernment of men who have an interest in our community and who are also likely to be accepted should they decide to make application. The structure and purpose of the weekends is to expose vocation prospects to our way of life, spirituality, friars, and ministries. Given that this weekend coincided with the feast of St. Francis, there were some events hosted by the Secular Franciscans and Franciscans in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Archdiocese. The inquirers attending the weekend were Stephen M., from St. Louis, Octavio W., from Atlanta, and David B., from LA. On Thursday, October 1st, David B. arrived and we took him to a presentation on poverty and prayer by the former Hollywood producer Gerry Straub. Gerry left a posh Hollywood lifestyle as a Executive Producer of daytime serials in order to film the poorest of the poor in some of the harshest slums in the world. Gerry is a Secular Franciscan who attributes his conversion to time spent in Assisi doing research on St. Francis. Currently, Gerry has produced a number of DVD's which powerfully depict the day-to-day drama of the world's poorest.

On Saturday, Br. John Kerr and I took the Aspirants and our postulant Corey to a retreat day at St. Olaf's in downtown Minneapolis. The retreat focused on Franciscan prayer, contemplation, and imitation of Christ and on Social Justice as a concrete way to imitate Christ. Both events gave the Aspirants a great deal of food for thought regarding the prophetic dimension of our Franciscan vocation which urges us on to being transformative leaven in both the Church and the World. The next Aspirant weekend will be during the weekend of December 4th-7th. We hope to host at least four men at this retreat (all of them but one different persons than those who attended the above weekend). Thing are looking up regarding vocations! It's my hope that during our provincial elections and chapter process taking place from October-January we will lay a bold foundation which will draw men who wish to continue carrying the "evangelical torch" of St. Francis, proclaiming the Good News of God's salvific will for all, especially the neediest of our world and the world itself! Peace, Pat, TOR