22 Jun “Mission Possible” – for a band of brothers
Superheroes are everywhere these days! So many movies feature heroes endowed with extraordinary powers, most doing good and saving the world. Though we may admire them, still we recognize that (in the main) they are depicted as individuals working alone and then taking all the credit for their amazing achievements. But that’s not how friars are called to play their part in the building of God’s Reign. Mission is possible only if it is based on unity in diversity and on a cooperative approach that values the gifts of many.
This is one of the insights emphasized by the members of the Plenary Council who are now in the process of summarizing key points that have emerged over the last ten working days. For sure, many new and well-established ministries need to be reviewed or properly implemented, but it is essential that this be done within the context of fraternity.
The Friars Minor are called to live the Gospel in fraternity. For many years now, the Order has affirmed that we are all brothers, and that in our living and working together as brothers we bring the inspirations of our Franciscan charism to the Church and the world.
While this is the ideal, our Minister General, Michael Perry, OFM, has observed that there are instances of friars who feel isolated, of others who live alone, and others who are lodgers — as if they were renting a room at the “St. Francis Hotel”! Another issue is that in some entities lay friars cannot fully participate in our common mission of evangelization, as is their right by virtue of their baptism.
The Council Members saw that training to be “fraternities-in-mission” must begin in our programs of Initial Formation and also be fostered through Ongoing Formation, with a particular emphasis on being contemplative fraternities. Finally, international fraternities have a special role in promoting diversity and cooperation. Mission is indeed possible when the Spirit moves in the band of brothers!