Two Friars Speak at “Transitus” Forum

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DENVER — Francis Soucy, OFM, and Daniel Sulmasy, OFM, participated in the Ninth National Franciscan Forum, organized by the Franciscan Institute of St. Bonaventure University, and held here last month. The theme was “Dying, as a Franciscan: Approaching Our Transitus to Eternal Life.”

It was appropriate that Daniel presented and Francis spoke on a panel since both friars are involved with elder-care and end-of-life issues, one as an ethicist and the other as a guardian. Dan is the Kilbride-Clinton professor of medicine and ethics in the Department of Medicine and Divinity School at the University of Chicago, and Francis is the guardian and director of Holy Name Friary in Ringwood, N.J., a skilled nursing home center.

Dan spoke on “Ethical Issues in Care at the End of Life” and “Ethical Issues After Death.”

Francis was a member of a panel on “Best Practices.” Holy Name Friary, of which he has served as director since its founding in 1989, has been noted by the state of New Jersey as a model facility. Friars Christopher Coccia, OFM, Matthew Pravetz, OFM, and David Haack, OFM, also attended. David displayed his paintings of the deaths of St. Francis and Clare.

“We had full days,” said Francis. “My best moments were the creative Transitus service on Thursday, the presentation of the undertaker-poet Thomas Lynch, and the introduction to the concept of ‘natural burial.’”

Despite the topic focussing on death and dying, Francis said the forum was uplifting and enlightening. “You might think that the days were rather somber and sad, but that was not the case. We learned a lot, discussed ideas and practices until our tongues stiffened, and saw more of our ministry as ‘transits’ than only the deaths of Francis and Clare.”

The forum was held June 17 to 19 at Regis University in Denver.