The Secular Franciscans of St. Francis of Assisi, Greenwood held their annual retreat the weekend of October 14-16. Friday evening began with Evening Prayer in the parish church, a light supper and then the DVD “Clare and Francis”, put out by Ignatius Press. It was the perfect setting for the message Brother Patrick McCormack, OFM was to give us on Saturday.
Saturday, following Morning prayer in church, we all moved over to St. Francis of Assisi School cafeteria where Brother Patrick spoke to us of St. Francis’ life. He looked at the relationships of child to parent in the times of Francis and Clare, and also at the relationship of poor to rich and the struggles they faced. In all the challenges and changes of St. Francis’ life, he turned to God. This conversation with God was, for Francis, always a priority and ever present at each new juncture. Francis would always ask,”What do you want of me Lord?” At the close of this first session Brother sent us off with the scripture Sir 2:1-6.
All were able to spend time in church in “conversation” with the Lord, receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation and pray the Franciscan Crown as a group before a simple lunch was shared.
Francis, his prayer life and challenges were the topic for the next gathering with Br. Patrick. St. Francis’ community was growing, he turned to the Lord to seek direction. Mt. 19;21, Lk. 9;3 and Mt. 16;24 gave Francis the basis of his Franciscan life and gave all some food for prayer.
Returning to the cafeteria there were opportunities for sharing thoughts and ideas.
The final session with Brother Patrick concerned the end of Francis’ life. He was losing his eyesight, his health in general was declining and the order had grown beyond his dream. Through it all St. Francis did not complain, rather he turned to prayer. He became prayer. Br. Patrick said; “When you are in conversation with God you are never alone,” and St. Francis was never alone.
Br. Patrick then gave the OFS a challenge, urging them to spend time in conversation with God and to seek what it is the Lord wants of their Fraternity. “Define what this Fraternity of OFS can do to be a conduit of the love and mercy of God.” “What do you want of us, Lord?”
Saturday evening held a celebration of the Franciscan family. The Friars, Franciscan Sisters, several Pax Christi Franciscan members as well as the Secular Franciscans all came together for the annual Family dinner provided by the St. Francis of Assisi Fraternity. It was a wonderful feast and sharing of the abundant blessings which are ours here at St. Francis Parish.
Sunday after Mass the OFS had a final wrap up session. It was a continuation of the bonding that the entire weekend had provided. The following are examples of the messages members were taking away from the retreat;
“Together…Where do we go from here…Not me, but we…Franciscan Compassion…Falling in love all over again with Francis…Franciscan prayer…Living the Gospel…New beginnings”.