St. Francis of Assisi Secular Franciscan Retreat

 

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.

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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”.

Secular Franciscan Fraternities Celebrate 25th Anniversary

On September 25, 2016, seven Secular Franciscans and Sister Annette traveled to Columbia, MS to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the canonical establishment of two Fraternities in St. Joan of Arc Region; Our Lady’s Little Portion, Columbia, MS. and St. Marianne Cope, Gautier, MS.

The drive down, although early, was filled with plenty of sharing, laughter, bonding  and prayer. The sun came up full and bright for this special day.

The celebration started with the parish mass at Holy Trinity Church, Columbia. Then continued in the parish hall with a delicious meal and catching up on life’s happenings.

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The Ministers of both celebrating Fraternities shared the history of their beginnings and God’s movement in their Fraternities.

It seems Secular Franciscans have a good time in whatever gathering they have. Their lives reflect the simplicity and the littleness which St. Francis enjoyed and encouraged all his followers to imitate.

The St. Francis of Assisi Fraternity of Greenwood brought along a gift for each of the celebrating fraternities.

St. Joan of Arc was presented to Our lady's Little Portion, our neighboring Fraternity. This statue was chosen as it is the patron of our region. St. Marianne Cope is the patron of the Second Frternity, our Sponsoring Fraternity in our journey to becoming Canonically established.

St. Joan of Arc was presented to Our Lady’s Little Portion, our neighboring Fraternity. This statue was chosen as it is the patron of our region.
St. Marianne Cope is the patron of the Second Fraternity, who is also our Sponsoring Fraternity in our journey toward becoming canonically established.

 As the day came to a close there was yet time for some pictures and memory making.

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Pictured above are; St. Joan of Arc Regional Minister, Cherryle Fruge. The two celebrating Fraternity Ministers are Carolyn Seal and Patricia Houghton. The St. Joan of Arc Region Spiritual Assistant isBrother Juniper Crouch OFM.

 

 The San Damiano Cross is ever-present where Secular Franciscans gather.

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“Most High, glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my heart and give me true faith, certain hope and perfect charity, sense and knowledge, Lord, that I may carry out Your holy and true command.”

 

Secular Franciscan Profession Renews St. Francis Parish, Greenwood

The final days before Profession for nine of our Candidates were filled with prayer, sharing and laughter. On Friday evening Sister Annette gave a reflection on their Profession in the Secular Franciscan Order.

 

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On Saturday all moved to the school cafeteria where Sister Kathleen had attractively displayed pictures of St. Francis’ Canticle done by Sister Mariella Erdmann, a Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity.

It was here that Fr. Jerome OFM, the Provincial Spiritual Assistant for the St. Francis of Assisi Fraternity, shared many excellent truths on the Admonitions of St. Francis.

 

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Come Sunday morning, all was in readiness for the Candidates and their family and friends who were coming to witness and celebrate this Profession. The last time a Secular Profession had taken place at St. Francis of Assisi Parish had been in the early 1970’s. Few present remembered the occasion.

The flowers–nine white and three red, represent the nine members to be Professed and the three members who have died as the journey unfolded.

This “Newly Forming Group” has been discerning for months and years through prayer, study, reading, sharing, and questioning. They  were ready for Profession!

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The giving of the Bible, San Damiano Cross and the Profession candle followed.

The newly Professed filed out after Mass singing and clapping to the song, “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus”.

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Smiles and radiant faces were seen all around.

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The graces of this day were plentiful for the Newly Professed and their families as well as for the parish of St. Francis of Assisi. May the lives of these individuals flourish in holiness and spill over into their families and the parish members who witnessed this wonderful Profession of faith and commitment.

Greenwood, MS Secular Franciscans practice for Profession

Years of praying and formation are paying off as the St. Francis of Assisi “Newly Forming” Secular Franciscans approach the day of Profession.

…all go into final preparation for the Profession Retreat days and the Profession ceremony and celebration after.

And let's not forget practice for the big day!

And let’s not forget practice in church for the big day!

Pray with us as we prepare. Retreat days are Friday April 29 and Saturday April 30. Profession will be May 1, 2016 for 9 members of this “Newly Forming” Secular group.

Saint Francis of Assisi Secular Franciscans and Franciscan Sisters enjoy time together

After a quick business meeting, the St. Francis of Assisi Secular Franciscans gathered with the Franciscan Sisters and Friars for an Advent prayer service which focused on the role of St. Joseph. An excerpt from the writings of Richard Rohr reflected on the fact that St. Joseph had faith before the angel spoke to him explaining Mary’s miraculous conception.  He had faith! Do we have that kind of faith?

 A delicious meal followed the Advent prayer service.

The Seculars presented a donation to Sister Mary Ann for use in St. Francis of Assisi School, the alma mater of many of these seculars.

Soon it was time for a fun game of “Dirty Santa”. Game rules were given.

Secular Franciscan gathering

Each person may select one present from the table, or they may “steal” a present from another person.

Secular Franciscan Gathering

It is important to remember that any gift may  be “stolen” only two times!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And so the fun began!

A beautiful Christmas Cactus among so many other options!

A beautiful Christmas Cactus among so many other choices!

 

SDC16915It is always a great time when Franciscans can gather together and enjoy prayer, sharing and simple fun!

St. Francis of Assisi OFS Retreat

The “Newly Forming” Secular Franciscans at St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Greenwood, MS gathered for their annual Retreat which began with, “In the beginning was the Word…”. This reflection was followed by; “The Mystery of the Incarnation/John Duns Scotus” a favorite topic of theirs.

The Franciscan Sisters joined the Seculars for Morning and Evening Prayer in St. Francis Church.

Laudato Si, Franciscan Lectio Divina, and From Gospel to Life…were the remaining topics for reflection.

Four members of Our Lady's Little Portion Fraternity joined us for the day.

Some members of Our Lady’s Little Portion Fraternity joined us for the day.

One of our members now comes to meetings with her new friend. And a loyal friend she is!

There was plenty of time for sharing, laughter and Fraternity building…

private prayer, pondering and sharing not only the vocation to the married life, but also to the Franciscan life.

A delicious lunch was enjoyed by the Secular Franciscan group and in the evening we had our annual Franciscan family meal with the Friars and Franciscan Sisters joining the Secular Franciscans.

 

The Gathering was a celebration of God’s love for us and the love we have for each other.

St. Francis of Assisi Greenwood Secular Franciscans experience National Regional Visitation.

The St. Francis Secular Franciscans on the road again with Sister Annette to St. Joan of Arc Regional National Visitation Gathering.


Fraternities of the St. Joan of Arc Region gathered in Baton Rouge, LA for its official visit from the National level of the Order.  

 For the St. Francis “Newly Forming” group this was another Formation experience. What is Visitation ? One or more persons from the National level of the Order visit each Region every 3 years to share with and assist the Region and it’s Fraternities in what ever way they can. It is a way of staying in touch with the Fraternities of the entire Order and ensuring the Fraternities and its members growth in holiness and fraternity. In turn each Local Fraternity likewise has Visitation from the Regional level for the same purpose.

The days were filled with sharing and getting to know other Secular Franciscans, how other Fraternities conduct their gatherings and what materials they use for On-going Formation.

Time to pack up and be on the road toward home came quickly!

Franciscan Sisters Join Secular Franciscans for December Gathering

The Franciscan sisters of Greenwood joined St. Francis of Assisi “Newly forming” Secular Franciscans who gathered Sunday for an Advent prayer service, food and fun.

A delicious potluck followed the Prayer Service with laughter and fun. 

Then came “Dirty Santa” and more fun!

After the “taking of gifts” that comes in the Dirty Santa fun there remained one gift to open.

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A gift to the Fraternity of a small statue of the Secular Franciscans patrons; St. Louis and St. Elizabeth on either side of St. Francis.

St. Francis of Assisi OFS Regional Meeting

Members of the St. Francis of Assisi Greenwood “Newly Forming” Secular Franciscans along with Sister Annette travel several times a year to Baton Rouge, LA to attend the St. Joan of Arc Regional meeting.

 

With a sunny and clear sky the three of us enjoyed the 5 hour trip.

 Approaching destination…!

Good conversation made the trip pass by quickly.

 

The Regional meeting the following day began with Mass, sharing of latest happenings, and settling into the work at hand.  The Formation portion of the meeting included;

  • What is the privileged place called Fraternity?

  • What’s National Visitation?

  • What are some of the best practices for vocation promotion?

This was followed in the afternoon by the usual reports of the Regional council and clarification of any business at hand. We all felt that the time was nourishing to our spirits and development of the “Newly Forming” Secular Franciscans here at St. Francis. By mid afternoon we were eager to get back on the road  and retrace our path up north 55 toward home.

Our next local Fraternity gathering will include a session for our entire group on;

  • “What is Fraternity”? This will be a great Formation lesson.

Or for those of us who are Third Order Regular we might ask;

  • “What is Community”? or
  • “What is the privileged place called Community”?