January 2005

Dear sisters and brothers,

A happy and blessed New Year to all of you! I hope that Christmas brought you many blessings as you celebrated with family and friends. I’m not much of one for New Year’s resolutions (typically broken as soon as they are made), but I do want to spend this time with you considering what we would like to make happen in 2005, for ourselves and our fraternity.

We made a big step last year in having a vocation promotion/introductory meeting, for the first time since I transferred to the fraternity in 1989. What I would like to start now and continue indefinitely is prayer for vocations. I would especially like to ask our sisters and brothers who cannot attend meetings to pray for our fraternity - not only that those who are called to the SFO may find their place, with us or with another fraternity, but also that those of us who are already in the order may continue to discern and answer God’s call for each of us. St. Francis had to keep listening to God’s call for him all his life, and used many ways to discern God’s will, including asking St. Clare and Brother Sylvester to pray on his behalf. We must do the same! I particularly ask you to pray for our fraternity council, that we who have been elected to animate and guide the fraternity for this term may hear the word of God and act on it.

Our Minister General, Encarnacion del Pozo, has made a point in her first year in office to issue two letters regarding those who cannot participate in fraternity meetings. Encarnacion considers life in fraternity to be one of our highest priorities (and one of the ways in which we serve the Church!), so she is very clear that it is up to all of us to be creative about keeping everyone involved in fraternal life, regardless of ability to be physically present at meetings. A second consideration is how to reach out to those members who can attend but do not. You will be seeing more from the council in the months ahead as we reflect on how to make fraternal life a reality for all of our members.

Our study of the Rule is progressing; the council has a tentative schedule for completing Chapter 2 of the Rule by the end of 2005. It is my wish to see our discussions continue to deepen, as we start to touch on ways that being a Secular Franciscan can and should be changing our lives. Perhaps we can ask ourselves some questions after each fraternity meeting, such as:

"What did I learn about living the Rule from my brothers and sisters today? What changes do I plan to make as a result?"

"How have I changed my attitudes or behavior since last month as a result of my deeper understanding of the Rule and what it means to be a Secular Franciscan?"

Of course, this isn’t (typically) going to be about BIG changes – but if we aren’t changing in response to what we’re reflecting on, we’re missing the point. We need to be accountable, even if only to ourselves, about how we’re living our Franciscan life.

One last item that came up at our November assessment/evaluation session: we need to spend some time in 2005 discerning how we act on our faith and our vocation as a fraternity. The council is currently discerning who will be asked to lead a small committee to plan some form of apostolic activity that we will do as a fraternity. More about this in the months to come…

As you can see, this list of goals looks a lot like the areas we discussed in November. That shouldn’t be a surprise! I look forward to our journey together in 2005 and beyond. See you on the 22nd at 9AM at the Crane Road church.

Peace and good, Vickie