Imagine a profound dialogue of St. Francis and St. Clare about topics such as contemplation, holiness, forgiveness, minority, humility, trust in God—topics leading to a deep embracing of Gospel life. Further imagine a group of friars and sisters sitting closely around them taking in the spirit, thoughts and practical living examples shared in the intimate conversation of these two holy Franciscans. Such was the experience of the 350+ Third Order Franciscan Sisters and Brothers (including Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity) gathered in Buffalo, New York from July 28-31 for the 2010 Annual Franciscan Federation Conference. The theme of the conference was Passionately Embracing Gospel Living.
Brother Bill Short, OFM and Sister Claire Andre Gagliardi, OSC led the gathering in a dialogue format through discourse of Franciscan ideals, stories, and life experiences that all listening to the conversation could identify with as part of one’s own personal journey. After each of the four dialogues, the conference participants were invited to a time of personal reflection and then personal “story-sharing” on questions such as, “Who is a holy person in your life with whom you feel in God’s presence?” and “What is a experience of forgiveness that you knew God’s peace to your life?” and “When have you experienced minority in your life?” Deep stuff—precious life stories were shared by the individuals at our tables, sometimes with tears and sometimes with laughter!
Further discussions tried to make concrete the theme of the conference and the 2010 justice, peace and integrity of creation resolution of the Franciscan Federation: Immigration: As Franciscan Pilgrims and Strangers, We Stand in Solidarity with Migrants. Ideas were shared to bring the theme to life in our local communities and to carry out the 2010 Franciscan Federation Resolution for as Brother Bill Short, OFM reminded us, “The simplicity and humility of the Franciscan vision offer a vivid contrast to the greed and ambition that have harmed so many in our society.” Can we, Franciscans, be the sign of the times? Is it our time to be a sign?