Franciscan Friar Headlines Super Soul Sunday

Maria Hayes Franciscan World

The following is a compilation of recent news from the website of the English-speaking Conference of the Order of Friars Minor, composed of provinces from the United States, England, Ireland, Lithuania and Malta.

One week after Super Bowl Sunday, people around the country were united around their television sets and mobile devices for a very different event.

Well-known ecumenical teacher Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM, of Our Lady of Guadalupe Province, spoke about Catholic theology and spirituality on “Super Soul Sunday,” a show hosted by Oprah Winfrey and produced on the OWN network. Fr. Richard was the first Catholic priest to appear on the program since the series debuted in fall 2011.

In an interview with National Catholic Reporter, Fr. Richard mentioned that Winfrey repeatedly referenced one of his books throughout the interview.

“She had highlighted page after page, arrow after arrow,” he said. “She wasn’t threatened by Catholic theology.” His nearly two-hour conversation with Winfrey was edited down to 42 minutes, and she mentioned she would like to have Fr. Richard back on the show in the future.

“We really connected,” he said. “If you care to watch, there’s good chemistry between us. That started before they started filming, although we never met until that day. … She’s got an amazing mind and an amazing heart.”

Fr. Richard, who offers daily meditations through the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, N.M., has been embracing new media since his ordination in the 1970s. “I made my first cassette tapes in 1973 when I was newly ordained,” he said. “For the first 10 to 15 years on the road, they used to introduce me as ‘the tape priest.’”

Fr. Richard’s ministry grew from cassettes to compact discs to social media. He worked for more than 40 years with Franciscan Media in Cincinnati and founded the CAC in 1987.

“My concern much of my life is not to preach to the choir,” he explained. “Jesus said preach the Gospel to all the nations. I’ve tried in these 45 years to preach the Gospel in a way that makes sense to the spiritual seeker, a person who’s more secularly oriented, and to someone who’s more theologically oriented.

“My concern is to seek to explain universal truth and not just Catholic truth,” he added. “If it’s true, it’s going to be true everywhere, not just for Catholics.”

Fr. Richard wasn’t the only Franciscan friar in the English-speaking Conference to appear in the media during February. In Canada, the Western Catholic Reporter published a story about the Franciscan friars in that region. The article, “Local Franciscans See a Future Filled With Hope,” focuses on the ministry and history of the friars of Western Canada.

The friars have been in the Edmonton Archdiocese — which covers Central Alberta, the Edmonton Capital Region, and the upper half of the Alberta’s Rockies region — since 1908, when they founded their mission in Lamoureux, near Fort Saskatchewan.

“The friars began by doing parish ministry out here and very quickly founded a college in north Edmonton, which was to reach out to the youth,” said Fr. Pierre Ducharme, OFM. “But we also sent guys in those early years to work in the Japanese internment camps in British Columbia, and they founded a couple of retreat centers as well.”

Today, friars in Western Canada continue to teach at Newman Theological College in Edmonton, and minister at parishes and retreat centers and with various outreach programs throughout the country.

The friars are hoping to add diversity to their province, which is almost 100 percent of European origin, by inviting friars from India to minister in the United States. They want to be ethnically diverse, the article says, so they can reach an ethnically diverse society.

Other topics that the ESC has recently publicized on Facebook and Twitter include:

Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.