Happy Feast of St. Francis!

Yesterday we commemorated the passing on to Heavenly Life of our Seraphic Father and Brother, St. Francis of Assisi.

More than 800 years ago, he heard God's call and began his journey with Christ. Unsure of where the road might take him, yet sustained by his faith, Francis grew into the very likeness of Christ. On October 3rd, in 1226, he completed his earthly journey.

As Conventual Franciscan Friars we follow in his footsteps.

May the Lord inspire us all in our Gospel life!

Transitus – 2019

The transition of St. Francis of Assisi from life to eternal life

Later in the evening of October 3rd 1226, the brothers gathered around Francis near the small chapel of Our Lady of Angels below Assisi. He had requested to be carried there. As he approached his death, he encouraged his brothers: “I am being called by God. I forgive all my brothers present and absent. When you give them this message, bless them for me.”

St. Francis transition from earth to eternal life (this Transitus is celebrated by Franciscans on October 3rd)

Then, as his first biographer continues, Francis “asked that the book of the Gospels be brought in and the Gospel of John be read to him, starting with the passage: Six days before the Passover, Jesus knowing that the hour had come for him to pass out of this world to the Father…” The narrative concludes: “And then his most holy soul was released from the flesh, and as it was absorbed into the abyss of light, his body fell asleep in the Lord.”
Is this not the description of a death any one of us would die for? Note the total trust in God who was calling him, and total embrace of his brothers in forgiveness and blessing? Evident here is his final perseverance in living the Gospel, even as he shares in the Passover of Jesus to the Father, realizing the fullness of Gospel prayer he so frequently prayed: “thy kingdom come, thy will be done.”

For centuries, since that very evening, Franciscans have gathered every year at the hour of his passing, the hour when he entered into the Passover of Jesus. We call this commemoration the Transitus.  We recall his own words near the end of his Canticle of Brother Sun: “Blessed are those whom death will find in Your most holy will.” 

We thereby remember we are also called by God to live for God as children of God, not for false securities nor the death-dealing powers of this world. It is also a way to help us enter more fully into the celebration of the feast of St. Francis the following day, October 4th.

If it is possible for you, would you join, and by your presence support the friars? (I will personally be celebrating at Immaculate Conception Chapel with our own student friars and with those from within the broader Franciscan family in San Antonio at Oblate School of Theology.)

Here are the locations for Transitus celebrations throughout our Province:

  • St. Bonaventure, Bloomington, MN 7:00 pm
  • Mount Carmel Parish, El Paso, TX 7:00 pm
  • Immaculate Conception Chapel, San Antonio, TX 7:00 pm
  • Holy Cross Retreat Center, Mesilla Park, NM 7:00 pm
  • Our Lady of Consolation Shrine Church, Carey, OH 7:00 pm
  • St. Benedict Parish, Terre Haute, IN 7:00 pm
  • St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Angola, IN 7:00 pm
  • Mount St. Francis Chapel, Mount St. Francis, IN 7:00 pm
  • Our Lady of the Woods Chapel, Louisville, KY 9:00 pm

Thank you. And as Francis himself would conclude: Pace Bene!
(Peace and every good.)
Fr. Wayne

Heart to Heart

Conversation with the Friars

Sometimes it’s just good to have someone there who is willing to listen.

On Sunday October 6, the Conventual Franciscan Friars of Louisville and southern Indiana will host an event they call Heart to Heart. Whether you have questions about the Church, challenges in your own life, need someone to pray with, or just want to talk, the friars will be available for you.

Please join us between 2pm and 4pm at Mount St. Francis, near Floyds Knobs, Indiana. Refreshments will be available.

Stigmata of St. Francis

From the beginning of his conversion, our holy Father Francis had a very great devotion and veneration for Christ crucified. He never ceased to preach this devotion until his death. In the year 1224, while he was in deep contemplation, St. Francis received the stigmata. This event was attested by reliable witnesses and Pope Benedict XI permitted the Franciscan Order to celebrate annually this extraordinary event on September 17th.

Jesus said to all:
"If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
What profit is there for one to gain the whole world
yet lose or forfeit himself?
Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words,
the Son of Man will be ashamed of
when he comes in his glory
and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels."
Lk 9:23-26

This stain-glass image depicts St. Francis receiving the sacred Stigmata, the wounds of Christ on the hands, feet and side. Francis was drawn so intimately into the suffering and cross of Christ he was the first person to be given the gift of the Stigmata.

The Sultan and the Saint

This year marks the 800th anniversary of the meeting between the Sultan Malik al Kamil and St. Francis of Assisi. Their encounter continues to bring hope that peaceful dialogue, mutual respect, and genuine fraternity are possible.

On Friday, September 27th, beginning at 7PM the film will be shown at the Rainbow Turkish House of El Paso (1030 Zaragoza Rd., Ste. V, El Paso TX). This event is cosponsored by Pax Christi of El Paso, El Paso Interfaith Alliance, National OFS Ecumenical/Interfaith Committee, and the Province of Our Lady of Consolation JPIC (Justice, Peace, and the Integrity of Creation) Commission.

On Monday, September 30th, beginning at 7PM the film will be shown at the Mount St. Francis Center for Spirituality (101 St. Anthony Dr., Mt. St. Francis IN) as part of a week long celebration of St. Francis of Assisi.

Both showings will be followed by an opportunity for discussion. Please pass along the information and join us for an evening of peace and reconciliation.

Folding 1,000 Paper Cranes

Fr. Tom Smith OFM Conv. participated in a peace vigil in Mesilla Park, New Mexico, on Monday, September 9, 2019. The vigil was held next to the new Chapel at Holy Cross Retreat Center, where Fr. Tom is the Director. He said, "The music reminded me of peace vigils from the 60s and 70s, yet the theme and need are very current."

One thousand paper cranes were donated to the City of Las Cruces during the vigil.

In Japanese culture, it is believed that if someone folds 1,000 paper cranes their wish will come true. These origami cranes are a symbol of hope and healing.

In addition to the Franciscan presence, there were representatives from many other faiths, including Judaism and Buddhism, as well as groups representing Asian Americans, the disabled, the Latino Community, the American Indian Student Center, and others.

The non-political event included representatives from the community speaking on the universal values of Love, Tolerance, Freedom, and Dignity.

Please Pray for Our Men in Formation

"I want it written at the beginning and the end of the Rule that the brothers are bound to observe the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ"

For more information about vocations, please visit www.FranciscanS.org

Happy Feast of the Assumption

Since 1912, the Conventual Franciscans of this Province have had the privilege of serving the pilgrims who visit the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, Ohio. Each year over the nine days leading up to the Feast of the Assumption, thousands gather for a Novena in Mary's honor, culminating in a candlelight procession to Shrine Park for a Vigil Mass.

This year Friar Steven McMichael OFM Conv. preached the Novena, and his evening homilies during the devotions focused on the relationship and similarities between Jesus' Resurrection and Mary's Assumption.

He left us with the beautiful image of the Risen Christ, visiting His mother on Easter morning, and the two embracing -- Jesus consoling Mary, who now is our own Mother of Consolation.

You may find Fr. Steven's reflections on our Province YouTube channel, or on our FaceBook page.

May God bless you and your families.

The Healing Power of God’s Love

Friar Jeffrey Hines on prayer, faith, and healing at the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation

Looking back over his years of service at the Shrine in Carey, Ohio, Br. Jeffrey Hines talks with Br. Randy Kin about the experience of welcoming pilgrims, listening to their stories, and praying with them.

Over the course of two days, the interview ranged from the history of the Shrine to specific, unexplained occurrences where people's lives were changed. We thank Br. Jeffrey for sharing these stories with us.

The conversation is broken into eight episodes, and are part of our podcast series Franciscan Voice, available on Soundcloud and through iTunes.

A Year and a Day

Seven men enter
the Conventual Franciscan Novitiate

On Wednesday, July 17th, seven men entered the Conventual Franciscan Novitiate in Arroyo Grande, California. They now embark on a journey that lasts a year and a day. This odd year and a day calculation comes from the medieval practice of recognizing a run-away serf as free if he could reside undiscovered in one of the emerging cities for a year and a day. If a novice can persevere for a year a day away from his old life, he too becomes a free man in a new spiritual life.

The novices are now invested in the Franciscan habit. This simple tunic, shoulder cape, hood, and rope around the waist, reflects what peasants wore at the time of St. Francis. The word habit comes from a Latin word habitus meaning to put on a way of life.

l to r: Friars Kyle Banks (OLA, Blessed Agnellus of Pisa Custody), Joshua Sherls (OLC), Alex Gould (OLC), Michael Hintze (SB), Peter Flynn (OLA, Blessed Agnellus of Pisa Custody), Christopher Fernandez (OLA), Roberto Macias-Marin (OLC)
(Abbreviations for provinces; OLC - Our Lady of Consolation; OLA - Our Lady of Angels;
SB - St. Bonaventure)

Over a year and a day the novices will gain a deeper understanding of Conventual Franciscan life through prayer, in-house classes, and other activities, including outside apostolates such as hospice, prison, and hospital ministries.

Please keep these men in prayer,
as well as all those who are discerning their vocation.