LOUDONVILLE, N.Y. – This week, Dominic Monti is presenting the final “Grace of Our Origins” retreat at Siena College. Last week, Siena hosted a different group of Franciscans for a weeklong gathering.
Reginald Reddy is general ecclesiastical assistant to the Franciscan Missionaries of Jesus Crucified (FMJC), which began in Albany, N.Y., and now hails from more than a dozen dioceses. William DeBiase led their annual retreat.
During the final evening of the retreat, four members of the FMJC professed vows of chastity, poverty and obedience for life.
Many FMJC men and women have disabilities – like many people in the world.
But that’s “not an excuse,” says co-founder Louise Principe. The FMJC welcomes persons with different abilities, with the requirement that they have “the ability to accept people with disabilities as persons and as equals.”
During his homily at their liturgy of commitment, Reginald noted, “I am old enough to remember when, if people were disabled, they were told they didn’t have a vocation. That if God would have given a vocation, he wouldn’t have given a disability. But that wasn’t God talking. That was people, and people say silly things sometimes.”
He went on to say that “we are not ‘advocating’ for disabled people…we will if we need to, but that is not our purpose.”
The FMJC charism is this: by professing vows, according to the spirit of St. Francis and in a secular condition of life, the members help Jesus carry his cross and effect a Gospel leaven in the world.
These missionaries are called to live exemplary Christian lives in the ordinary circumstances of family, church, work, civic and social environments. Although they do not live together in community, they still pray morning and evening prayers – often by phone, due to physical separation.
During the liturgy, FMJC members participated in reading the Word of the Lord, as they were able. Few could follow the program invitation to “please kneel” during the Litany of the Saints, but Reginald on his knees symbolized their intentions.
He makes it clear God welcomes people, no matter how they sing “Here I Am, Lord.”