From the Associate Pastor’s Desk
As we come close to the Feast of St. Francis on October 4, which we observe today, here are twelve characteristics of a Franciscan ministry, composed by the Franciscan Friars of St. Barbara Province:
- THE CENTERPIECE of the ministry is the Gospel and its call to be disciples of Christ by serving others, especially the poor, the forgotten, and the marginalized, in keeping with the social justice tradition of the Catholic Church and the example of St. Francis.
- PEOPLE COME FIRST and are recognized to be spiritual beings whose deepest self seeks communion with God. There are thus places and times set aside for private and communal prayer. Likewise, there are opportunities for spiritual reflection, retreats, and Mass.
- EVER MINDFUL that our work is made possible by the long line of Franciscans who preceded us, visible symbols, stories, and art related to St. Francis, St. Clare, our Catholic and Franciscan legacy, and our local founders, are on display.
- THE POOR, those in need, those whom society ignores, or neglects, are welcomed. Indeed, they are received with openness and compassion. They are greeted not as strangers, but as guests.
- COMMITTED TO THE POOR, disenfranchised and vulnerable, the focus is placed on creating a safe environment, free of exploitation. Staff receive safe environment training and understand their duty to report. The needs of the vulnerable and victimized are placed above all others.
- EVERYONE IS A BROTHER and sister, from those who sit at the big desk to those who walk in through the door. Right relationships are consequently more important than efficiency. Communication is not just through memos or reports, but through stories, personal encounters, and even interruptions.
- THOSE WHO SERVE are to be ministers of peace. Foundational to such an approach is respect, for others and for others with whom one disagrees. As a result, conversation is punctuated by courtesy, non-violent language, and the presumption that everyone desires the good.
- THOSE WHO SERVE are to be collaborators. They are not confrontational and do not denounce others; even when working stridently for the dignity of the poor, they enter into conversation. They advocate by example and are more likely to be found placing jugs of water in the desert than arguing in City Hall.
- IN KEEPING with the material poverty that marked the life of St. Francis, the ministry is not self-sufficient. It relies on donors and volunteers in order to operate. Its reserves are modest and all funds are managed with a strong sense of stewardship.
- CARE FOR CREATION is not optional; it is essential. The interconnectedness of all creation was recognized by St. Francis long ago, and so this understanding influences large and small decisions. Efforts are made to conserve water, recycle waste, use green cleaning products, and even to grow produce for use in the ministries themselves.
- EVERYTHING IS DONE with an attitude of humility. What a ministry has is viewed as a gift from God. Whatever role a person has is seen as one of service.
- GOODNESS IS KEY. Our ministries focus on the good in others, in the world, in the whole of creation that God “looked upon and saw that it was good.” Sin does exist, but grace abounds all the more.
As members of a parish that upholds Franciscan spirituality and values, I invite you to reflect on these characteristics and strive to embody them.
Peace and all good,
Fr. Sam Nasada, OFM
Mission San Luis Rey Parish
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