John Paul II young adults in Portage County Wisconsin recently hosted a ‘Franciscan Moment’. It was an open dialogue that engaged the audience on topics important to them and contemporary life. Father Placid Stroik, Franciscan Friar of the Assumption of the BVM Province and Sister Louise Hembrecht, Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity took turns facilitating the conversation.
Beginning with an honest confession on how many times they have visited Assisi and some personal data, the two Franciscans grounded the moment in a background on St. Francis: his life, his call, his mission. Next, the first audience question on suffering emerged. St. Francis who lived with the stigmata was a perfect example of someone who witnessed joy in pain. He simply saw it as pure gift to being more like Christ who suffered and died for us out of love. In all interchanges that followed, priority was given to Jesus. For after all, St. Francis above all pointed to Christ and truly desired to be like him.
There was a Secular Franciscan represented in the group discussion. It was evident that all followers of St. Francis of the first, second and third orders are encouraged to desire nothing else but to do their part in being another Christ and seeing the goodness of God in all of creation.
Other conversation starters included reconciliation as a way of individual and communal conversion and growth; what may have been the possible significance of Pope Francis’ choice of name; what is the meaning of the Tau cross; the Franciscan moment in Solanus Casey’s beatification; importance of a place for various individuals in different social classes to come together e.g. mission of Franciscans Downtown in Stevens Point, WI and venture capital- how we can be the seed early-stage in emerging growth in goodness in our world.