Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity focus on Brother Sam Nasada from the Order of Friars Minor presently in the Santa Barbara Province for our monthly Franciscan Moment.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m originally from Indonesia. I came to the United States for college. Then I found a job as an engineer in the Los Angeles area. When I started become very active with the Indonesian and LA-area Catholic communities, it was then I started exploring my vocation to the priesthood and religious life.
What attracted you to the Franciscans?
I had no idea about the Franciscans or even St. Francis before I joined the friar. Then I met a friar who was also a liturgist. We started talking about liturgical music, especially multi-cultural liturgies that are so rich in California. Then one day he asked me if I would like to ride with him from Los Angeles to Oakland, visiting some friaries along the way. What I experienced was the warm welcome of the friars I visited and the fraternity they showed to each other. I was hooked!
What is the challenge of being a friar today?
Sometimes I feel the challenge comes mostly from Catholics themselves. Often times we are accused of being un-orthodox, of watering down Church teachings, and so on. What gives me comfort is learning that the history of our order, and I think almost all the other religious orders, is rooted in serving those who are on the peripheries of the Church. Consequently, our first priority is not so much on how doctrines are followed to the detail, but on how those who have been marginalized can again feel that God has not abandoned them.
What story or words of St. Francis are dear to you?
More than the words that many of his biographers attributed to him, I always go back to his own words in the Testament. Instead of contributing his conversion to a dream or a vision from God, he tells us that his conversion happened when he encountered the lepers. This is something that we can all relate to, that our ongoing conversion happens when we are willing to go beyond our comfort zone and be open to wherever the Holy Spirit moves us.
Is there any past experience that is especially meaningful to you?
During one of our desert hikes to leave water to help migrants who are in need, our group came across a human skeleton. We stopped our hike, paused to pray in silence, and waited for the sheriff deputies to claim the remains. While waiting, we had lunch and shared our food with each other. To me it was absolutely sacramental, how we broke bread together to remember this brother or sister who had died unnoticed. At that moment, we joined him or her in the communion of saints.
As you look to the future what gives you joy?
My joy has been and will continue to be having a Pope that has exemplified the spirit of St. Francis. It’s been so much easier to make the Church and the world understand our charism when the top leader of the Church is very Franciscan in words and deeds.