The National Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order OF Tanzania held their national elective Chapter. The elections were as follows: as National Minister our sister Lucy Nambuo, as International Councillor our brother Felix Mosha. May God bless you and continue to brighten your way.
The National Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order of France held their national elective Chapter. The elections were as follows: as National Minister Chantal Auvry. May God bless you and continue to brighten your way.
The National Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order of Mexico held their national elective Chapter. The elections were as follows: as National Minister and International Councillor our sister Lady Guadalupe de la Rosa. May God bless you and continue to brighten your way.
The National Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order OF Ecuador held the national elective Chapter from the 16th to the 18th of September. The elections were as follows: as National Minister and International Councillor our brother John Hernán Palacios Verdugo, as Deputy Minister our sister Doris Elizabeth Benavides Márquez. May God bless you and continue to brighten your way.
What is the World Social Forum (WSF)
Created in 2001 at Porto Alegre, the capitol of the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, the World Social Forum was seen as a democratic space to debate, network and plan actions aimed at making concrete the Forum’s “another world is possible”. It was conceived as an opposition to and challenging the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in which in their annual meetings the rich nations programmed the neo-liberal top-down development models they proposed to the world. The Social Forum, however, was conceived as a process to promote bottom-up development and seeks to include grass-roots organizations, people’s social movements, NGOs, religious groups and all those interested in addressing the social, economic and political problems afflicting today’s world. The WSF promotes free manifestations of possible alternatives to the WEF model, exchange among citizens, complaints, inspiration, concrete commitments and the development of networking strategies that lead to concrete actions of international solidarity, social and environmental justice, social economy, participative democracy and the recognition of the equal dignity of all.
Working towards its objectives, the WSF does not put participants in positions of advancing or imposing their own visions and models, but rather brings together all those who are committed to seeking possible and shared solutions to a common theme or a common problem.
Franciscan participation at the WSFs
In its initial phase in 2001 members of the Franciscan family were present at the WSF and that presence has continued in successive Forums: Porto Alegre in 2005, Nairobi in 2007 and Tunis in 2015 . The Franciscan Family also participated in the United Nations Climate Summit in Rio de Janeiro (commonly known as Rio + 20) and in the 21st Conference of the Parties in Paris last year, commonly known as COP21
Over the years this participation has evolved thanks to the financial support of the Mission Zentrale der Franciskaner , a German Franciscan entity created to offer financial support to the missions and the social activities of the Franciscan Family.
The original presence was loosely organized and left to personal initiative but, over time it has become gradually structured and organized, involving members of the Franciscan Family in the area where the Forum is held in order to help them become better acquainted and promotes networking to involve Franciscans at the events associated to the Forum in such a way that they can become a reference for concrete interventions on behalf of the weak and marginalized.
During our participation in the Peoples’ Summit held parallel to the organized RIO +20 Summit, an international delegation composed of Franciscans involved in JPIC ( Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation) and members of Franciscans International ( FI) decided to take action on three themes from the Franciscan contribution to work for the defence of Mother Earth: Life-style ( formation and spirituality), industrial mining and opposition to the Green Economy which seeks to commodify Creation and the Environment. Since that time, much has been done in these three areas, and especially concerning mining. After their participation in COP 21, last December the Franciscan Family decided to strengthen its commitment, focusing its engagement on extractive industries as a response to the cry of the Earth, and on the economy, as a response to the cry of the Poor – the Green Economy, which has proven to be nothing but a slogan to leave everything unchanged, has died a natural death and has even disappeared from common parlance -- and life-style, as a personal and communal witness.
The Franciscan Delegation at Montreal was composed of 14 members (OFM, OFM Conv, OFM Cap, OFS, Gifra , FCJM, FAN and FI) from all parts of the world.
Through FI , it organized some well attended activities and seminars: they treated the rights of Nature and the Environment; the problem of tackling crimes against the environment and persons perpetrated by mining industries, with particular reference to the cases of Maikana in Canada e Mariana in Brazil; how to address Extreme Poverty as a human rights violation of these persons; and the document promoted by FI at the United Nations proposing the recognition of civil responsibility and penalizing the multinationals for damage caused by their activity beyond the state in which they have their legal seat ( at present, for example, since it is not Brazilian, BHP/VALE, the multinational society that owns the mine that caused the Mariana disaster, cannot be prosecuted by the Brazilian government ) .
There were also other activities on topics such as Migrants, the Encyclical Laudato Si and solidarity, agroecology, and the right to food (sustainability and sovereignty).
All these activities reconfirmed the necessity of working in synergy with other organizations and networking with them, to learn and share but also to offer concrete witness to Franciscan values; besides, as some episodes clearly showed, the world is thirsting for and seeking these values.
During a wrap-up gathering at the Forums conclusion, the delegation agreed on some points to work at to developing in the worldwide Franciscan Family:
At the conclusion of this participation all the members of the delegation -- many of whom attended the WSF for the first time -- agreed that it was very important to be present because of the great learning opportunities offered but also because their participation and presence gave them greater awareness of the necessity of responding to these challenges with organized, effective and concrete actions, and that this can happen only when we unite with other movements and organizations, and not only religious ones, who are working for the same goals. In this way, we Franciscans can learn from the experience of those who have been concretely committed for years or from those who have the necessary scientific expertise, at the same time bearing witness to our values and our spirituality, working side by side with them in a spirit of minority. This is the centre of our ministry and a confirmation of the fact that JPIC, which is said to be deeply rooted in the Franciscan DNA, can become a priority and a model for a new evangelization that allows us to defend the poor and the environment with the commitment of our life.
Ordo Franciscanus Saecularis
FAMILY COMMISSION Silvia Diana - OFS
CONCLUSIONS OF SYNOD ON THE FAMILY, OCTOBER 2015
Chapter III presents “Family, Inclusion and Society” and its many important themes so that we can share and reflect on them together. We suggest that you read this chapter completely. We will reflect on some points but we propose that each fraternity try to animate itself and to deepen your knowledge according to your local reality.
Let us share (discuss) in fraternity the following questions:
1. What is the reality of our grandparents, persons with special needs, (and) single persons in our families and our surroundings?
2. Migrants, refugees, and the persecuted live in our cities. What is their situation?
3. Women – what are the difficult situations that women face today?
4. Are our children and youth happy? Are their rights respected in our society?
We will form ourselves in light of the documents
Our grandparents are very important in the restructuring of family values:
One of the most serious and urgent tasks of the Christian family is to preserve the link between generations to ensure the transmission of the faith and the basic values of life… Grandparents in a family deserve special attention. They are the link between generations, and ensure a psycho-affective balance through the transmission of traditions and customs, values and virtues, where younger persons can recognize their roots [...] (N°17/18.)
Pope Francis, in his exhortation, Amoris Laetitia says: “Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent” (Ps 71:9). This is the plea of the elderly, who fear being forgotten and rejected. Just as God asks us to be his means of hearing the cry of the poor, so too he wants us to hear the cry of the elderly. This represents a challenge to families and communities, since “the Church cannot and does not want to conform to a mentality of impatience, and much less of indifference and contempt, towards old age. We must reawaken the collective sense of gratitude, of appreciation, of hospitality, which makes the elderly feel like a living part of the community. Our elderly are men and women, fathers and mothers, who came before us on our own road, in our own house, in our daily battle for a worthy life”. Indeed, “how I would like a Church that challenges the throw-away culture by
the overflowing joy of a new embrace between young and old!” [...] ( AL191). The lack of historical memory is a serious shortcoming in our society. A mentality that can only say, “Then was then, now is now”, is ultimately immature. Knowing and judging past events is the only way to build a meaningful future. Memory is necessary for growth: “Recall the former days” (Heb 10:32). Listening to the elderly tell their stories is good for children and young people; it makes them feel connected to the living history of their families, their neighborhoods and their country. [...] (AL 193)
Persons with Special Needs
So much love is reflected in families that give value to life…
[...] Families which lovingly accept the difficult trial of a child with special needs are to be greatly admired. They render to the Church and society an invaluable witness of their faithfulness to the gift of life[...] If the family, in the light of the faith, accepts the presence of people with special needs, they will be able to recognize and guarantee the quality and value of every human life, with its proper needs, rights and opportunities. This approach will encourage care and services on behalf of these disadvantaged persons and will encourage people to draw near to them and provide affection at every stage of their life. (N° 21) (AL 47)
Persons Who Are Unmarried
In our fraternities there are many brothers and sisters who have chosen this state in life…
Many people who are unmarried in life are not only devoted to their own family but often render great service in their group of friends, in the Church community and in their professional lives. Sometimes, their presence and contributions are overlooked, however, causing in them a sense of isolation. More often than not, many exhibit noble motives in their full engagement in art, science and the good of humanity. Many put their talents at the service of the Christian community in the name of charity and volunteer work. Others remain unmarried, because they have consecrated their lives for love of Christ and neighbor. Their dedication greatly enriches the family, the Church and society. (N° 22)
Migrants, Refugees and Those Suffering Persecution
A reality that challenges us today is welcoming these brothers and sisters and working with them…
We are all pilgrims: Special pastoral attention needs to be given to the effects of migration on the family. In various ways, migration has its effects on entire populations in different parts of the world. The Church has exercised a major role in this area. Maintaining and developing this witness to the Gospel (cf. Mt 25:35) is more urgently needed today than ever. The truth of the history of humanity and the history of migrants is inscribed in the life of families and entire peoples. Even our faith makes this clear: we are all pilgrims…In accompanying migrants, the Church needs a specific pastoral program addressed to not only families in migration but also members of the families who remain behind. This pastoral activity must be implemented with due respect for their cultures, for the human and religious formation from which they come and for the spiritual richness of their rites and traditions, even by means of a specific pastoral care. “It is important to view migrants not only on the basis of their status as regular or irregular, but above all as people whose dignity is to be
protected and who are capable of contributing to progress and the general welfare. This is especially the case when they responsibly assume their obligations towards those who receive them, gratefully respecting the material and spiritual heritage of the host country, obeying its laws and helping with its needs” (Francis, Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2016, 12 September 2015). (N ° 23).
Jesus said: “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14
Children are a blessing from God (Gen 4:1); they ought to be of primary concern in the family and society and are a priority in the Church’s pastoral activity. “In fact, society can be judged from the way children are treated, not only morally but also sociologically, whether it is a liberal society or a society enslaved by international interests. [...] Children remind us [...] that all are sons and daughters. [...] And this always brings us back to the fact that we did not give ourselves life but that we have received it.” (Francis, General Audience, 18 March 2015) [...] (N°26)
“Families cannot help but be places of support, guidance and direction, however much they may have to rethink their methods and discover new resources. Parents need to consider what they want their children to be exposed to, and this necessarily means being concerned about who is providing their entertainment, who is entering their rooms through television and electronic devices, and with whom they are spending their free time. Only if we devote time to our children, speaking of important things with simplicity and concern, and finding healthy ways for them to spend their time, will we be able to shield them from harm. Vigilance is always necessary and neglect is never beneficial. Parents have to help prepare children and adolescents to confront the risk, for example, of aggression, abuse or drug addiction”. ( AL 260)
Childhood, today, must be a priority for the church, for the family and for state institutions – because of the possibilities (children) offer, as well as the vulnerability to which (they) are exposed. Children are a gift and a sign of God’s presence in the world because of their ability to accept the Gospel message simply. Jesus chose them with special tenderness (Cf. Mt. 19:14), and presented their capacity to accept the Gospel as a model to enter the Kingdom of God (Cf. Mark 10:14; Mathew 18:3). We painfully see the situation of the poor, of family violence (above all in irregular or broken families), of sexual abuse; we see what a large number of our children are going through -- working children, homeless children, children with HIV, orphans, soldier children, boys and girls who are misled and exposed to pornography and forced prostitution – as much virtual as actual. Above all, early childhood (0-6 years old) requires special attention and care. We cannot remain indifferent in view of the suffering of so many innocent children. (Aparecida Document, the Latin American Bishops 438/439)
“But Mary kept all these things pondering on them in her heart” (Lk 2:19).
Women have a crucial role in the life of the individual, family and society. “Every human person owes his or her life to a mother, and almost always owes much of what follows in life, both human and spiritual formation, to her.” (Francis, General Audience, 7 January 2015) [...] Truly, however, the status of women in the world varies considerably, primarily because of socio-cultural factors. The dignity of women needs to be defended and promoted [...]In many places, discrimination results simply because one is a woman: the gift of motherhood is penalized rather than valued. [...]A contributing factor in the social recognition of the role of women is a greater appreciation of their responsibilities in the Church: their involvement in decision-making, their participation in the administration of some institutions and their involvement in the formation of ordained ministers.(N ° 27)
Man plays an equally decisive role in family life, particularly in reference to the protection and support of his wife and children. A model for a man in a family is St. Joseph, the just man, who in the hour of danger, “took the child and his mother by night” (Mt 2:14) and brought them to safety. Many men are aware of the importance of their role in the family and live according to their masculine role. The absence of a father gravely affects family life and the upbringing of children and their integration into society. This absence, which may be physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual, deprives children of an appropriate model of paternal behavior. [...] (N ° 27)
Many young people continue to see marriage as the great desire of their life and the idea of forming their own family as a fulfilment of their aspirations. Nevertheless, young people, in practice, have varying attitudes with regard to marriage. [...] In their plans of love, young people who are baptized are to be encouraged to have no doubts in viewing the riches available in the Sacrament of Matrimony, to be aware of the strong support they can receive from the grace of Christ and to seize the opportunity of participating fully in the life of the Church. The reasons for the young renouncing marriage and their discouragement in marrying need to be more carefully discerned. Young people can gain greater confidence in the choice of marriage thanks to those families who, in the Christian community, provide a trustworthy example of enduring witness over time. (N ° 29)
*In view of these challenges, ¿what actions should we take and what commitments should we make?
*Considering especially the older brothers and sisters of our fraternities, what should we do to accompany them at this stage in their lives?
Prayer to the Holy Family
Jesus, Mary and Joseph
in you we contemplate
the splendor of true love, to you, confidently we come.
Holy Family of Nazareth, make our families also
the Cenacle place of communion and prayer,
genuine schools of the Gospel and small domestic churches.
Holy Family of Nazareth,
let there never be families episodes of violence,
of isolation and division;
that anyone who has been hurt or offended may soon be comforted and healed.
Holy Family of Nazareth,
make aware to all the sacred and inviolable character of the family,
of its beauty in God's plan.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph, hear and receive our prayer.
New council of Slovakias Fraternity was elected:
National Minister: Josef Gazdik, International counselor: Lucia Spodniakova.