The Franciscan Friars of the Atonement are dedicated to bringing reconciliation and healing to a broken world.
With their charism of “At-One-Ment,” unity with God, others and self, the Friars walk alongside those in need through their various ministries. From March 7 through March 11, the Friars examined the future of their ecumenical, social and pastoral ministries as well as the future and formation of religious life at their Atonement Franciscan Assembly.
Experts weighed in and dialogue was facilitated in response to Pope Francis’ call for a “Synod on Synodality,” an open and earnest exploration of the life and mission of the Catholic Church.
The Friars began the assembly exploring the future of their ecumenical ministry, which is central to their “At-One-Ment” charism. From the panels conducted and discussions held, the Friars concluded that we must each offer our best self to our fellow Christians and those of other faiths in friendship, choosing to live out our ecumenism and charism with intentionality. The Friars resolved that extending the hand of friendship, to people of all faith traditions – including and especially those different from your own – is the crucible through which ecumenism is forged.
In exploring the future of their social ministry, the Friars focused on the work of Saint Christopher’s Inn in treating men who are in recovery from addiction to drugs and alcohol. Spirituality, the Friars found, is the cornerstone of the Inn’s highly successful approach, which sees each man in treatment as a Brother Christopher, a “Christ-bearer,” instilling in them the knowledge that they are good people worthy of love, dignity and respect, and helping them find hope, healing and renewal.
Examining the future of their pastoral ministry, the Friars were reminded how pivotal it is to bring their charism to the world. Since their origin as a religious community, the Friars were encouraged to leave their headquarters, the Holy Mountain at Graymoor, and minster to the world. Many Friars have since served as priests in parishes across the globe. The word that frequently arose while discussing their pastoral ministry was “relationship,” and the ministries at Graymoor and around the world help the Friars reach out and stay connected with those in need.
The assembly concluded with a discussion and forum assessing the future and formation of religious life. The Friars found there are still a great many people who wish to live out the Friars’ charism. The Friars pointed to their six novices in Lima, Peru, who were called to discernment and to bring others to Jesus Christ. The Friars discovered that there still exists a willingness to answer the call to vocation, and that if the Friars live their charism, people will come to it.
As the Friars are excited about their future, they have open eyes about the challenges that come with their mission. While disunity exists in our day, the Friars mentioned the common good and our collective humanity – and to be more aware of the connective tissue that binds us all. The Friars resolved that God has the power to unify and transform, and they will look to bridge the gaps; reaching out and educating more young people on the beauty of the ministry, and welcoming and inviting people of every age and walk of life to be children of the atonement in ways that matter and make a difference.
With inspiration from Saint Francis and Saint Clare, Servant of God Father Paul Wattson, SA, founded the Society of the Atonement with Mother Lurana White, SA, in 1898 at Graymoor in Garrison, New York. The Friars have since strived to bring unity to one and all and healing to the broken and those who have lost their way.
Now, the Friars look to the future of their mission of “At-One-Ment.”