Looking to the Future
In 2012, the leaders of the seven OFM provinces in the United States began a series of meetings focused on renewing Franciscan life and mission across the U.S. These ongoing discussions are centered on how the friars might better collaborate and share resources while also enhancing our rich variety of ministries, trades and occupations.
As these conversations continue, we as friars are called to consider this question: What challenges and opportunities does this historical moment in the U.S. offer us?
To help address this question, Holy Name Province’s administration is presenting “Signs of the Times,” a series of essays that offers a Franciscan response to major issues facing our culture on both a political and ecclesial level. The desired outcome of this project is simple: that social analysis be part of the many considerations involved with creating a preferred future for us as Franciscans of the United States.
These essays do not represent the Province’s official policy. Rather, they are the thoughts of the writers — both friars and laypeople — and will serve as starting points for ongoing discussions. One essay will be published each month as the Province continues to discuss the restructuring and revitalization process in the United States.
- September 2016: “How Would Francis Lead a Parish?” by Jeanne and Joe Mitcho
Virginia residents describe what they’ve gotten to know – and to expect – from Franciscan friars, emphasizing the importance of working in the marketplace as St. Francis did.
- August 2016: “Signs of the Times: Women in Church and Society” by Marie Dennis
The co-president of Pax Christi International describes the role women have traditionally held in the Catholic Church and offers suggestions for how to listen to and incorporate women’s experiences into the future of our faith community.
- July 2016: “Signs of the Times: Dispelling the Shadow of American Militarism” by Johnny Zokovitch
A Pax Christi staff member describes the connection between militarism and various issues faced by the United States: poverty, racial injustice, immigration and climate change among them.
- June 2016: “Pursuit of Life, Liberty at Heart of Migration Issue” by Julian Jagudilla, OFM
Our Franciscan charism calls us to recognize and revere the dignity of the human person and call on others to do the same. In this reflection, a friar explains the causes of immigration and gives suggestions for how each of us can be companions to those in need. (For a PDF of the document, click here.)
- May 2016: “Economic Inequality and Fraternal Solidarity” by Kenneth Himes, OFM
As economic inequality continues to grow, it threatens the hope of equal opportunity and marginalizes persons and whole communities. This, in turn, becomes morally problematic. As Franciscans, we are called to stand in solidarity with those who are suffering and to acknowledge the need for practices that overcome all that divides us: race, religion, gender, and economic class. (For a PDF of the document, click here.)
- April 2016: “Threats to Earth’s Environment” by Sr. Marie Lucey, OSF
For Franciscans, Pope Francis’s encyclical “Laudato Si'” poses a new challenge which is not only ecological and social, but theological and spiritual. Franciscans, especially, must make the connections between suffering Earth and suffering people, especially those who are poor and bear the brunt of ecological devastation and climate change. (For a PDF of the document, click here.)
- March 2016: “Resisting Destructive Political Culture” by Russell Testa
As Franciscans concerned about the well-being of persons and of all creation, the political culture of our world is of utmost importance since it is through political decisions that choices are made about distribution of resources and about human rights. In this essay, Russell, director of the HNP Office for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, describes the need for dialogue and compromise while taking steps toward the common good. (For a PDF of the document, click here.)
- February 2016: “Islam and the West” by Fr. Michael Calabria, OFM
Since the seventh century, Islam has evolved into a global faith, currently including roughly 23 percent of the world’s population. Fr. Michael describes the importance of learning about the “beautiful diversity created by God” and of avoiding Islamophobia, recommending “reverential presence and respectful engagement.” (For a PDF of the document, click here.)
- January 2016: “America’s Sense of Exceptionalism” by Fr. Joseph Nangle, OFM
Many Americans believe the United States holds a preferential place in the family of nations. Fr. Joseph encourages Franciscans to challenge this worldview by advocating for the poor and the marginalized, at home and abroad. (For a PDF of the document, click here.)
- December 2015: “The Prophetic Role of the Church in America” by Fr. Vincent Cushing, OFM
The Catholic Church in America is blessed with prophetic voices addressing varied key issues. In this essay, Fr. Vincent discusses the role of prophecy in Church and encourages the reader to consider what role prophecy might play in the future of the Franciscans in the United States. (For a PDF of the document, click here.)
- November 2015: “A Franciscan Response to the Pope’s Encyclical” by Fr. Joseph Rozansky, OFM
In “Laudato Si’,” and during his address to the U.S. Congress, Pope Francis reminded us of the values behind any approach to life and politics: the dignity of all creatures, the common good, and care for the excluded and the most vulnerable. How can we respond to the pope’s challenges to us as Americans, as Catholics, and as Franciscans? (For a PDF of the document, click here.)