‘Pilgrims, Not Strangers’ Chosen as Theme for Provincial Chapter

Jocelyn Thomas Friar News

(Logo courtesy of Michael Reyes)

Plans are underway for the Province’s 2017 Chapter, which will open in just over two months. The theme of the triannual gathering, being held from June 4 to 9, has been chosen – “Pilgrims, Not Strangers” – and other aspects of the Chapter are being finalized.

“We come together in the Chapter of 2017 to deliberate on the future direction of Holy Name Province so that we may strengthen our life as a ‘fraternity-in-mission’ within the United States of America,” said Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen, OFM. “We understand ourselves to be ‘Pilgrims, not Strangers.’ As brothers, we are on a ‘spiritual journey’ that demands trust in God and trust in one another.”

Kevin continued, “In the Chapter of 2017, we hope to gain insight from quiet moments of listening to the voice of the Lord in prayer as well as listening to the voices of our brothers in the Province and in the other U.S provinces. This privileged time of listening must include the voices of the people who are most vulnerable in our society. These brothers and sisters must know that we hear their cry and will stand in solidarity with them.”

Reclaiming a Pilgrimage Spirituality
The Chapter Planning Committee aims with its theme to accomplish several objectives, said Joseph Juracek, OFM, chair.

“A reclaiming of pilgrimage spirituality might help the friars to hear once again our Franciscan call to itinerancy – whether literal or figurative,” according to a document written by William Beaudin, OFM, that reflects on the theme. “It might encourage us to move into new fraternities-in-mission, into new configurations for the Franciscan footprint in the United States and out into the peripheries of society to which the 2015 General Chapter has urged us to go ‘with the joy of the Gospel.’”

To enable friars to review the committee’s objectives, the thematic reflection, describing how “reclaiming a pilgrimage spirituality might be life-giving to the friars” of Holy Name Province at this point in their history, was distributed by Provincial Vicar Lawrence Hayes, OFM, at the Province’s recent regional days.

“The purpose of our pilgrimage is to experience life on high in Christ Jesus by living the Gospel and to share its life-giving message with the people that we are privileged to serve, especially the ‘little ones’ (the minores) who are living on the peripheries of our society,” said Kevin.

The logo symbolizing the 2017 Chapter theme was designed by Michael Reyes, OFM, of Tampa, Fla.

The Chapter, being held at Siena College in Loudonville, N.Y., will open on Sunday evening, June 4, with the official approval of two chairs. The agenda for the nearly weeklong gathering will include prayer, presentations, group discussions, and the election of Provincial Council members.

Prayer and Discussions
Monday will be a day of prayer, said Joseph who lives in Pompton Lakes, N.J. It will begin with an address by Sr. Barbara Reid, OP, a professor of New Testament Studies at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, who will speak about “Pilgrims, Not Strangers.”

“We chose her because she is a scripture scholar and she also leads pilgrimages to the Holy Land,” said Joseph.

On Monday afternoon, a panel discussion will be held, with participants representing four groups – immigrants, Muslims, women and African-Americans. The discussion will be led by a member of Holy Name Province.

On Tuesday morning, Kevin will give a state of the Province presentation, a traditional address at provincial chapters. That afternoon, a “white paper” report on the Reconfiguration and Revitalization (R & R) Process will be discussed. Wednesday and Thursday will include mainly discussion about the various Provincial offices and directorates, Joe said, as well as the election of six Provincial Council members.

On the first two days of the Chapter, friars from other OFM provinces will attend the sessions. “Each of the six U.S. provinces participating in the R & R Process will send three of their friars to each of the 2017 Chapters being held by the other provinces,” said Lawrence. “Since HNP and Assumption Province will be celebrating their respective Chapters on the same dates, they will not exchange ‘guest’ friars. The presence of the guest friars at the Chapters will provide those friars the opportunity to experience the cultures and priorities and friars of different provinces. Since the R & R process will be discussed during the time that the guest friars are present at Chapter, it will also provide the guests with a deeper understanding of the current thinking and position of the hosting province regarding that process.”

Over the next two months, the Province’s offices and directorates will be preparing reports on their accomplishments and goals. During this time, through straw ballots, the HNP members will evaluate candidates for the Provincial Council’s 2017 to 2020 term in preparation for the Chapter. Michael Harlan, OFM, Provincial Secretary, is coordinating the election process.

Holy Name, with its close to 300 members, is one of five provinces in the United States holding chapters this year. The others are St. John the Baptist, whose members are gathering from May 22 to 26, Our Lady of Guadalupe Province from May 29 to June 2, Assumption BVM Province from June 4 to 8, and Sacred Heart Province from June 18 to 23.

The theme of the last Chapter, held in 2014, was “Being Who We Say We Are.”

— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.

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