Learning from Franciscan Mentors

Lizzy Heurich Around the Province

Sr. Nancy Schreck speaks about peacemaking at the 2017 Next Generation of Franciscan Mentors conference. (Photo courtesy of Lizzy Heurich)

A recent conference about Mentoring Peacemaking as Franciscans in Our World Today provided ideas and wisdom to participants. One of the two representatives from the Province’s Franciscan Volunteer Ministry provided a description. The HNP Communications Office welcomes information about other helpful workshops and conferences.

Frankfort, Il. — The staff members of the HNP Franciscan Volunteer Ministry attended a conference in June hosted by the Next Generation of Franciscan Mentor that offered a variety of ideas on a theme important to the Order. The annual event featured keynote speaker Sr. Nancy Schreck, a Sister of St. Francis of Dubuque, Iowa, who led the group in workshops centered around the theme of “Mentoring Peacemaking as Franciscans in Our World Today.”

The group consisted of Franciscan sisters, associates, and service organization staff members. Katie Sullivan and I, the executive and associate directors of FVM respectively, were two of the service organization representatives.

The conference, held from June 13 to 15, took place at the Portiuncula Center for Prayer in Frankfort.  Each day brought different prayers, talks, panels, and activities that focused around the central theme of Franciscan Peacemaking.  In fact, Sr. Nancy began the conference with the St. Francis quote, “While you’re proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your hearts.”

Sr. Nancy spoke beautifully and engaged the participants in various exercises.  Many tidbits of wisdom emerged, such as the concept that peacemaking is not just a human endeavor, but something that expands creation.  Peacemaking, according to Sr. Nancy, involves creative initiatives; a stance of nonviolence; seeing and treating the other as brothers and sisters; reconciliation; and mutual changes.

The theme of Franciscan Peacemaking also covered the topics of inner peace and peace with others.  Sr. Nancy spoke about how we should all strive to experience the body of Christ in people and not solely just in the Eucharist.  There were also discussions about understanding and truly listening to people, especially in today’s social and political climate.

During our time together, the group members analyzed the significant events in St. Francis’s life and the cultural, social, and historical perspectives of his time. A workshop focused on conducting peacemaking conversations.

Sr. Nancy noted how in today’s world it is easier to preach to the choir, so to speak, than to talk with someone with whom you disagree.  Yet, she emphasized how important dialogue is between people who hold varying beliefs and values.  One aspect of peacemaking conversations that Sr. Nancy spoke about is how keeping things simple is better than complexity and that personal stories often work better than descriptions of only facts.

“This was the first time we were invited to be a part of the Next Generation Franciscan Mentors Conference,” said Sullivan. “I feel confident we will return. It was a blessed time of formation in the Franciscan tradition, of collaborative reflection on how to bring what we learned into our varied ministries, and of personal renewal.”

The Next Generation of Franciscan Mentors annual conference was an incredibly impactful experience — both professionally and personally.  I look forward to continued dialogue on peacemaking in the Franciscan tradition with friars and FVMs.  I am grateful to Sr. Nancy and all those involved in the planning of the annual conference for providing all of us with this experience.

In 2018, the Next Generation of Franciscan Mentors conference will feature Michael Calabria, OFM, as keynote speaker and will be held in Buffalo, N.Y.

Information about Next Generation Franciscan Mentors, which has held gatherings since 1997, can be found on its website.

Lizzy Heurich, a native of North Carolina, joined the Franciscan Volunteer Ministry staff last summer.


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