Around the Regions March 2017


Here we highlight some national events, and initiatives from various regions.

The programme for the National Assembly to be held in Gibraltar in April is now available. We are delighted that every region is represented. There may still be places available should others wish to attend. It seems that the Extra Costs will now be only £40, and not £110 as originally expected. This is to help meet the costs of the Speaker and Spiritual Assistants and the catering for the weekend. We believe that the Gibraltar Fraternity will revitalise everyone who comes. We know they have devoted a huge amount of time and energy to make this unique experience uplifting and successful.

And in September Paula Pearce will lead a Living in Faith in Daily Life weekend retreat at Pantasaph Friary. Details may be found here.

Formation: We hope you are making good use of the excellent formation material that our national formation minister, John Power, has provided. John is also now working on material for Ongoing Formation.

South Wales and South West region have an interesting programme of events for 2017, and perhaps members from other regions might like to join them. Many from other regions will recall that in 2016 South Wales and South West offered the excellent “The Holy Year of Mercy and our Franciscan Response” weekend in Cardiff.

London Region have a Youfra initiative with an event in April: Working together to build Peace in our families, schools, colleges, universities, workplaces, our nation, our world…..and ourselves. See the hurt of the world and want to respond in the way of Peace, Joy, Hope, Love, Good….? There are many ways to be involved: pray for this initiative; publicise it; support one-off events; or join us in our year of monthly meetings/activities, growing together as we explore our Christian life in the Franciscan spirit.
Come and See: Friday 28th April 2017, 6.30pm-8pm Our Lady of the Rosary Church Hall, Brixton.
Get in touch and keep in touch: Facebook: Franciscan Youth UK
and on Twitter: @YouFraLondon
Email – YouFraLondon@aol.co.uk
If young people from other OFSGB regions want to make contact for resources etc, please get in touch.

The latest Southern Region newsletter “Viewpoint” is just in. There is much interesting material in the newsletters that the various regions provide.

East Anglian Region are drawing our attention to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales initiative referred to as the Holy Land Co-ordination.
After a recent visit the CBCEW say that “In 2017 we see a land of tension and division, walls and suspicion.” They invite us to “Take Action”, one suggestion being contact with our MP’s. David Gleave of East Anglian region says: “They have provided a pro-forma letter, so it is quite easy to share their message with your MP – all you have to do is provide your name and address.”
Since 1998, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has organised an annual meeting of the Co-ordination of Episcopal Conferences in Support of the Church of the Holy Land. Mandated by the Holy See, an international delegation of bishops meets in the region every January to act in solidarity with the Christian communities there and to share in the pastoral life of the local Church as it experiences extreme political and social-economic pressure.

And we have details of the East Anglian regional election last weekend: here, and also here.

Our North East Region are energetically drawing our attention to a charity ride in memory of the much loved Michael Almond, of the Leeds fraternity, who died last year.

South East Region have details of the funeral arrangements for Declan Walsh ofs, dearly missed Minister of the Croydon fraternity. The Requiem will take place on Friday 31 March 2017 at Our Lady of the Rosary, 2 St Barnabas Road, Sutton, Surrey, SM1 4NL at 10.00 hrs. Followed by burial at Greenlawn Memorial Park Cemetery, Warlingham, and a reception at The Horseshoe Pub, Warlingham. The region are suggesting donations to the OFS Barton project instead of flowers.

A further update may follow with news from Scotland, the North West Region, and the Midland Region.

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A Month in the Jubilee Year of Mercy Month from the National Minister

merciful like the father

I was delighted to be at the Cardiff weekend which was excellent.
The following weekend a few of us gathered at Pantasaph where I presented a weekend on this theme, which I adapted to present at a lovely gathering of our Scottish Regional the following week. On Tuesday 24th I had the joy of hearing the Redemptorist, Fr Jim McManus, give a day on mercy as part of the Bishops’ Conference Spirituality Consultation and this was wonderful too.
Another opportunity to teach again occurred when I was asked to present a day to the Spirituality Network of the C of E Diocese of Rochester last Saturday, introducing St Francis, the Franciscan Charism and elements of the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition – a small ask! It went very well.
I have now constructed a very adaptable resource on what the Year of Mercy might mean for us Franciscans which I would like to offer. Please let me know if you think there would be sufficient interest in your regions and invite me! We are not restricted to one year for building gin this year. I am thinking of using Barton for day/evening adaptations during times when I plan to be based there.
Whether this happens or not I wanted to share just a couple of points from the presentations with OFSGB members. Please pass this to any members you think might be interested.

Mercy has a much richer meaning that we generally give it today. A summary from Pope Francis:

“Etymologially ‘mercy’ derives from misericordis which means opening one’s heart to wretchedness. Mercy is the divine attitude which embraces it. It is God giving himself to us, accepting us and bowing to forgive.’

St Francis often refers to us as “miserable”. Miserable, the same root, has a much broader significance than we tend to give it – it can be applied to any experience of poverty, corporal or spiritual; to anything that causes me dis – ease; anything that takes me away from my relationship with God and neighbour. St Francis refers to us as miserable, in need of God’s grace, limited in our capacity to transform our wretched state. Only God is perfectly merciful. God sees into the heart of a person, knows what is causing that person’s specific misery or wretchedness and accepts each person, always ready to bow down and show mercy.

In my preparation for the presentations I was drawn to the encyclical (Rich in Mercy) of St John Paul II, 1980. I recommend this to everyone and believe that we are very fortunate to have Pope Francis with his down to earth, practical approach. This can lead us to want to rediscover other writings on mercy and see them fresh eyes. I found John Paul II’s reflections on the Parable of the Prodigal Son had great relevance for me. I give just a little taste of his conclusions:

* Mercy does not belittle the receiver

* Mercy does not offend the dignity of the human person

* A relationship of mercy is not a relationship of inequality, the giver is on no way superior to the receiver

Pope Francis writes about visceral love of God – the love of a parent in difficult times is perhaps as close as we get to this– it gushes forth from the depths naturally, full of tenderness and compassion, indulgence and mercy.
Pope Francis also writes that mercy is a key word, that indicates God’s action towards us and makes God’s love visible and tangible. God desires our well-being, and that we are joyful and peaceful.
I find great encouragement in the examples Pope Francis gave in the Name of God is Mercy to explain that God is looking for even the smallest opening – this book is very worth reading. A small taste of his conclusions:

* God waits; God waits for us to concede him only the smallest glimmer of space so that he can enact his forgiveness and charity within us…The place where my encounter with the mercy of God takes place is my sin

* When you let yourself be embraced, when you are moved – that’s when life can change because that’s when we try to respond to the immense and unexpected gift of grace

* We stand before God who knows our sins, our betrayals, our denials, our wretchedness.

Paula ofs May 2016.

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The Loving Mercy of God

Brother Francis

Fr. Francis Dor OFM Cap celebrating the mass at the OFSGB national elective chapter at Wistaston Hall last autumn.

The life of St Francis of Assisi was transformed when he recognised the loving mercy of God in
his life and this led him to desire that everyone might experience God’s mercy. Perhaps the “The Holy Year of Mercy and our Franciscan Response” weekend in Cardiff starting this Friday is for you. Francis Dor OFM Cap, our Capuchin General Spiritual Assistant, will be coming from Rome, where he is based, in order to be with us. If you would like to join us, do contact Angela Bradley. There should still be places available. See here for details, a booking form, and the programme.
Another option is the And I showed Mercy to Them weekend “Exploring the Richness of God’s Mercy” led by Paula Pearce, our National Minister at Pantasaph Retreat Centre from 6th to 8th May, 2016. A Pantasaph booking form can be found here.

Brothers & Sisters: Building Bridges (Pope Francis on Lesbos: 16/04/2016)
Pope Francis’ five-hour visit to Greece on 16th April ended with him offering safe passage to Italy to 12 Syrian Muslims, half under the age of 18. The Vatican will assume financial responsibility for the families, who will be assisted by the Rome-based Community of Sant’Egidio.
“Wake us from the slumber of indifference,” the pope prayed, “open our eyes to their suffering and free us from the insensitivity born of world comfort and self-centeredness.” In his prayer Pope Francis insisted “we are all migrants, journeying in hope” toward God in heaven.
Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens and all Greece stood with Pope Francis and they, too, offered prayers.
Poe Francis praised the people of Lesbos for showing that “in these lands, the cradle of civilization, the heart of humanity continues to beat; a humanity that before all else recognizes others as brothers and sisters, a humanity that wants to build bridges and recoils from the idea of putting up walls to make us feel safer. In reality, barriers create divisions instead of promoting the true progress of peoples, and divisions sooner or later lead to confrontations.”

Being a Resurrection Community: ‘Straining forward to what lies ahead’
Continuing the theme of Mercy and also referring to divisions in brotherhood, some of you may have missed this powerful call to an evangelical life, to being a Resurrection community that was made by Fr Michael Perry OFM in his Easter Letter of the Minister General 2016
“There should not be any brother in the world who has sinned, who after he has looked into your eyes, would go away without having received your mercy.”(Letter to a Minister, 9) Yes, brothers, as Pope Francis urges us: “it is time to return to the basics and to bear the weaknesses and struggles of our brothers and sisters. Mercy is the force that awakens us to new life and instills in us the courage to look to the future with hope.”(Pope Francis, Misericordiae Vultus, 10)
Fr Michael says: In a particular way, this jubilee year of mercy is summoning us as Franciscans to transcend the divisions in our brotherhood that have arisen over our long history.
He quotes Biblical scholar Gerhard Lohfink: “[Being] a Resurrection community means anticipating that at every hour the Spirit of Christ will show the community new paths, expecting new doors to open at any moment, counting on it that at any hour the Spirit can transform evil into good, hoping that every hour the impossible will become possible, and never saying “later!” but always “now!”

At a Cinema near You: RISEN. Some said that he is risen… What if it is true?
RISEN was released in UK cinemas on March 18th. The Capuchin Franciscans of GB, on their facebook page, said: “A film worth watching. We travelled 80 miles to see it. The tomb is empty… and it is awesome!”
The film is an account of Jesus’ resurrection as seen through the eyes of an unbeliever. It follows Clavius, a high-ranking Roman military tribune and his aide Lucius, who are instructed by Pontius Pilate to ensure that Jesus’ radical followers don’t steal His body and claim resurrection. When the body goes missing within days, Clavius’ mission is to find the body, dispel rumors of a risen Messiah and prevent an uprising in Jerusalem. You will find a trailer here, here a review, and here a list of cinemas across the UK which will be showing the film. Note that “These listings are correct at the time of being published”, which was 14th March.

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Pope Francis: Intensify the Inner Journey of Conversion.

raniero-cantalamessa

We are well into Lent now, but Pope Francis, in his Angelus address last weekend (6th March) called upon the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square to “intensify the inner journey of conversion” as Easter approaches. He said this while reflecting on the parable of the prodigal son. For each of us this “intensification” will be different. Perhaps the 2016 Lenten homilies given by the preacher of the Pontifical Household, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa might help us. Zenit have made available in English the four homilies he has given this Lent to date (here as pdf). The remaining homilies will be added as they are given. Or we may still wish to sign up to receive by daily email these succinct Lenten reflections on brief scripture passages, together with review questions. They have been put together by the Southwark diocesan Stewardship Team in collaboration with the diocesan Spirituality Commission. Paula Pearce, our National Minister, is a member of this team.

There are still places available for the Cardiff event with Francis Dor OFM Cap, our Capuchin General Spiritual Assistant who will be coming from Rome, where he is based, in order to be with us. Called “The Holy Year of Mercy and our Franciscan Response”, it runs from 29th April to 1st May. See here for details and a booking form.

This is an update on the very difficult situation of the Calais migrants, that was issued by email on 4th March. See also the Seeking Sanctuary website: scroll down for the latest news and their urgent update. They have made it very easy to buy something online as a contribution.

A note on adjusting the size of the type on the website so that it is comfortable for you to read can be found here.
finis

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On the Mercy Bus?

merciful like the father
South Wales and South West Region are offering an interesting weekend event in Cardiff from 29th April to 1st May for the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy entitled “The Holy Year of Mercy and our Franciscan Response” See here for details and a booking form.
The weekend will be led by Brother Francis Dor OFM Cap, who is based in Rome, and is one of the General Spiritual Assistants to the Secular Franciscan Order.
We hope that members from the other regions will wish to support this event. Please pass on the details of the event to members in your region who may not be aware of it. Bookings to Angela Bradley.

And from 6th – 8th May 2016 at Pantasaph Franciscan Friary Paula Pearce will offer “And I showed mercy to them” (Testament of Francis): The weekend will be a reflective weekend around the following: The meaning of this Year of Mercy, Mercy in the Franciscan Sources and The meaning of the Year of Mercy for us today.

We have posted some Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy links here. Perhaps study Misericordiae Vultus in fraternity as we are currently doing at Stratford.

And why not check out the Diocese of Salford Mercy Bus, which, according to the Catholic Herald last week, is now touring Lancashire in an attempt to reach lapsed Catholics?

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