WASHINGTON — As the Franciscan Action Network continues to work to unify Franciscans around social action themes, its executive director has been bringing FAN’s message to organizations around the country.
The five-year-old FAN’s mission this year, said executive director Patrick Carolan, is to build mini-networks around the country to bring together Franciscan organizations, provinces, parishes and ministries around justice, peace and integrity of creation issues.
Carolan cited the Milwaukee, Wis., area, where unifying efforts are working well in bringing together Capuchins, OFMs, SFOs, and other groups. “All the different parts of the Franciscans are coming together,” he said. “There is strength in numbers. FAN can be a central joining force.”
These unifying efforts also help to eliminate duplication of activities among the different Franciscan groups and to minimize fragmentation.
Carolan recently spoke about this organizing effort at the spring meeting of the OFM English-speaking Conference. Carolan traveled to San Antonio, Texas, in mid-April to speak to the provincial ministers of English-speaking provinces. He said he discussed FAN’s accomplishments and goals.
Last month, FAN brought more than 50 persons to Washington, with a large group from St. Camillus Church, Silver Spring, Md., including Jacek Orzechowski, OFM, to rally for immigration reform. The group participated in the April 25 rally, when the Supreme Court heard the case on Arizona’s immigration bill. FAN members participated in the 48-hour prayer vigil and Jericho-style march around the Supreme Court building.
Advocating for Climate Standards, Faithful Budget
In addition, FAN was represented at the recent National Religious Partnership on Climate Change meeting. Carolan was a speaker, as were representatives of the Franciscan Mission Services and Pax Christi. As a member of the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change, FMS welcomes carbon pollution standards.
“FAN supports efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions as consistent with the teaching that John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and the Franciscan tradition have articulated,” said Carolan. FAN’s policy can be found on its website.
FAN is also advocating for a Congressional budget that remembers the needs of the poor, said Carolan, or what he calls a “faithful budget.” “We are trying to raise awareness for a faithful budget, a budget that protects the poor.
“The budget is more than how much we spend; it’s how much we raise. We have to look at how we spend our money and how we raise our revenue.”
Partnering with FMS
The Franciscan Mission Service welcomed Carolan in April for one of its Sunday Souposiums, a series of an informal meals and gatherings of Franciscan-hearted people in the Washington, D.C., area. Leading a small group discussion, Carolan asked attendees to consider what they thought heaven was like and how to create heaven on earth.
Carolan explained that when the Lord’s Prayer is prayed, people say, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” He encouraged attendees to work to bring about the kingdom of heaven on earth, according to Bridget Higginbotham, FMS communications coordinator.
“He mentioned Richard Rohr’s idea that Jesus came with a building plan, not an evacuation plan. Because we are building the kingdom of God on earth, we should cherish and protect creation,” said Higginbotham.
— Wendy Healy, a freelance writer based in Connecticut, is a frequent contributor to this newsletter.