At the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago from October 24 – 26, 2018, Franciscan leaders from around the United States gathered to ask the question, “How can we as a Franciscan Family cooperate more as one family?” There were presentations by Br. Michael Perry, OFM Minister General; Sr. Meg Guider, OSF; Br. Dan Horan, OFM; Bishop John Corriveau, OFM, Cap., Bishop Emeritus of Nelson, British Columbia. Fr. Brian Terry, SA, Minister General of the Friars of the Atonement was asked to present a reflection on these presentations to the leaders.
The hope of the group is to continue a conversation which began in Umbria in 2017. On May 29, in 1517, Pope Leo X wrote a papal bull hoping to unite the Friars. Unfortunately, the opposite occurred and divisions became more pronounced. The Franciscans of Assisi in the Umbrian valley began a three year journey in 2014 to examine how, today, we could realize the intention of at least more cooperation, if not full unity, in the Franciscan family. On the 500th anniversary, May 29, 2017, the Friars held a conference to review their journey and ask for pardon from one another. Fr. Brian Terry, SA, facilitated the week-long conference and Fr. Jim Puglisi, SA, was in attendance from Rome, Italy. This meeting in Chicago was the United States response to the Ite Vos movement to unify all the Franciscans.
The leaders each committed to greater cooperation as well as began organizing some projects together. There are already some “inter-obediencial” houses of study where Franciscan students from different communities live together. The leaders are now going to explore how our gifts in each community can come together to help one another in different ministries. We as Friars of the Atonement hope to bring our gifts of ecumenism and healing to these efforts. We have already added a “Paul Wattson Lecture” at Catholic Theological Union offering our gifts to the students studying there. We also provide experiences for young seminarians or religious students to have experiences of St. Christopher’s Inn, our homeless shelter and substance abuse rehabilitation community.
Pray that God may bless the work of our hands.