WASHINGTON, D.C. — It was only a year ago that the Franciscan Action Network (FAN) — an organization for Franciscan-hearted people — was launched here, and already the group has 1,800 members.
As the Order of Friars Minor celebrates its 800th anniversary this year, FAN is marking its one-year milestone. “Both events call us to look again at what our Franciscan tradition has to offer our world today,” wrote FAN Executive Director Russell Testa, who is also director of the Province’s Office for Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation in Washington, D.C.
In a monthly electronic newsletter distributed March 10 to FAN members and friends, Russ wrote, “Our ‘old ideas’ are the new ideas the world needs.”
In addition to inviting new members, FAN leaders are also busy advocating for social justice and peace, and providing programs and informational resources.
In February, FAN members sent more than 300 letters to U.S. elected officials, helping to shape the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. “While there were many items we might have changed in the bill, overall we were pleased with it,” writes Testa.
“Of particular interest to us were those components that provide direct help to persons who were poor or in need. Measures such as increased unemployment support, increased availability of food and other assistance, and infrastructure build-outs to help create jobs reflected our values.”
Testa reminds readers that Franciscans look at economic conditions and their effect on people differently than many. “While others might measure the success or failure of an effort by the response of the stock market, a decrease in the number of people requiring assistance from our soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters and ministries is a more relevant indicator to us.”
In addition, Russ made a case for a closer working relationship between the Franciscan Action Network and Franciscan colleges and universities in the January issue of the Journal of the Association of Franciscan Colleges and Universities. Forty-two colleges are now members of FAN.
Expanding Discussion Forums
FAN has also been busy expanding its Web site. It now includes discussion groups and forums on issues that FAN is working on, including immigration, social justice, the recession, and more. They allow a more extended conversation among FAN members of issues that are close to their hearts.
FAN’s e-letter said the discussion forums are now easier to use. They do require a log-in of user name and password.
To sign up, click here.
In addition, Larry Janezic, OFM, who lives with HNP friars at Holy Name College in Silver Spring, Md., and is FAN’s issue advocate, offers several articles in the March e-letter. They include, “Is it Fair? Implications for a Shared Economic Recovery,” and “The Man from Oberlin: Local Efforts to Reform Immigration Enforcement.”
Many of FAN’s leaders and members participated in the annual Ecumenical Advocacy Days for Global Peace with Justice held March 13 to 16 in Washington, D.C.