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ESC Update: Friar Who Co-organized Greenwood Movement Remembered, Other News

First Communion, Easter 1955, at St. Francis School in Greenwood, Mississippi: Pictured from left are Jonathan Williams, Kenneth Rolling, Jerome Rolling, Fr. Nathaniel Machesky, Wilson Granger, Jeanne Patricia Williams and James Alexander. (Courtesy of Br. Andrew Brophy)

The following updates summarize news from the English-speaking Conference of the Order of Friars Minor, comprised of provinces and custodies from Canada, England, Ireland, Lithuania, Malta, and the United States. Follow the ESC on Facebook and Twitter for up-to-date information throughout the month.

After the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968, Franciscan friar Fr. Nathaniel Machesky, OFM, of Assumption Province, and two black ministers banded together to create the Greenwood Movement, instigating a boycott that won the first tangible gains for African-American citizens in that Mississippi city. National Catholic Reporter recently published an article on his role in the movement and the mission work done by the Franciscans in that area.

Texas Public Radio recently featured the stories of the undocumented immigrants living in sanctuary at Holy Cross Retreat Center in New Mexico, which was founded by the friars of St. Barbara Province and is currently operated by the Conventual Franciscans. “We don’t call it sanctuary,” one said. “We call it Franciscan hospitality.”

Athletes and officials at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in Australia are frequently surprised when they learn their chauffeur is a Catholic priest. As a volunteer fleet driver, Franciscan friar Fr. Stephen Bliss, OFM, of Holy Spirit Province, is responsible for bringing star athletes, VIPs and visiting ambassadors to their destinations. “St. Francis said preach the Gospel and if necessary, use words,” he told The Catholic Leader. “I think this preaching of the Gospel is not about using words, but using a steering wheel. It’s an attempt to present priesthood in a modern, contemporary way and give people here a positive experience and a different experience of Church.”

The Franciscan friars in Cincinnati once again marched in the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day Parade. The friars have been present in the community for nearly 175 years. Photos appeared in The Catholic Telegraph and a story titled “Fun and Fraternity” was published in the April 5 issue of SJB NewsNotes newsletter.

A description of the new church of the Franciscan Renewal Center (the Casa) in Paradise Valley, Ariz., was recently published on faithandform.com. “There are three core ways the substance of the new church was intended to convey the sacred: by acknowledging through the construction, as St. Francis sang in his “Canticle of Creation,” that all creation sings praise to God; to meditate an experience of God through light, space, and authentic materials; and by claiming our responsibility to steward God’s creation.”

The history of a Franciscan abbey founded in 1296 in Galway, Ireland, and its evolution from abbey to novitiate to church to its current role as a part of the campus of the National University of Ireland Galway is detailed in an article in the Galway Advertiser.

Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.

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