Do you ever stop and look at your life and feel like you are standing in the center of it watching it whirlwind around you?
Not disconnected from it rather amazed at how much has happened and is happening and what is yet to come. It really is amazing isn’t it? In this whirlwind we are called to be present and to live fully aware of the life which is our gift today. Each day unfolding blessings, graces, disguised moments with God, strength for the journey, wonder and awe and even the hardships or trials we face the day is gift to us. It really is outstanding isn’t it? This thought has been rolling around in my mind today as I look back and look ahead and strive to be present to today.
I look back to a year ago this coming week – October 22. That day etched into the permanent memory and story of the Franciscans in Canada. October 22 marks the day we stepped forth with bright eyes, hopeful hearts and dedicated determination to become the Holy Spirit Province Saint-Esprit – Franciscans of Canada. That day and the week of Chapter around that day infused in us Friars a desire to give witness of fraternity, mission, prayer, evangelization and contemplation for the church in Canada.
In his homily on October 22, 2018 our Minister General, Friar Michael Perry shared wisdom taken from words spoken by Saint John XXIII. Words that he felt best captured the inauguration of the new Province.
“Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you have tried and failed in, but with what is still possible for you to do.”
That truly does capture the spirit of our beginning and what has unfolded in the year since. Friars from across Canada have continued to hope and dream. We have voiced concerns and frustrations but have not let them hold us down or hold us back. There has been much dialogue and new opportunities embrace. We continually look to our unfulfilled potential in how we are ministering, where we need to minister and what more we can do based on our age demographic, geographical demographic and the demographic of the church in Canada. We have acknowledged the work of our Brothers who built up our presence in Canada and appreciate the ongoing works and unique ministries of so many of our Brothers today. We have celebrated the life of Brothers who now rejoice with the heavenly host, we have welcomed two new simply professed Brothers into our fold and I even had the humbling gift of making my Solemn Vows in this first year as a new Province. We continue to plan for new adventures and ministry, we strive to be present in all types of situations from calls for climate action to education, from parishes to retreat ministry, with the outcast and broken, for the church, with the church and in the church – no matter what the church may look like that day. We continue to tell our story and invite others to join our story by embracing Franciscan spirituality and asking others to take the risk and journey with us as a Friar.
Our story is unfolding for much is still possible for us Franciscans and for those who we minister with and build the kingdom together. It is here that I come back to the image of the whirlwind and realize that it is the promptings, the movement and the work of the Holy Spirit which is the whirlwind awakening us more to the hopes, dreams, unfulfilled potential and the possibilities which God sees in our Province. It is exciting and breathtaking, overwhelming and yet grounding in some way (maybe uprooted and planted to be grounded in a new place type of way). When we lose sight of these promptings, when we fail to breath in the breath of the Spirit and only breath in our own visions, when we fail to continue the work which was begun a year ago our patron the Holy Spirit does not linger behind. Rather the Holy Spirit is already ahead of us and calling us to step bravely onto new paths and to give witness to the breath of God in all of creation, in the here and now and in the call to begin again, for as St. Francis said, “up to now we have done very little.”
As we look ahead and move into another chapter of the life of the Franciscans in Canada; of the Holy Spirit Province Saint-Esprit the words of Saint Paul also echo in our ears and in our hopes and dreams, “all who are led by the Spirit are children of God” (Romans 8:14). It is this promise that settles in our core and calls us to life today and tomorrow and allows us to give thanks for what was in our yesterdays. As Children of God we desire nothing more than to share the good news and live the gospel of his beloved Son, Jesus. We continually open ourselves up to the Spirit and how she reminds us that all we journey with and all of creation are God’s children.
As one of the young Friars in the Province I am humbled and awed by the support and generosity of so many people. I must say thank you, I (and I know my Brothers) are so grateful. It is in gratitude that I humbly ask for your continued prayers and support as we write this next Chapter.
I invite you to pray with us, using the words of our Brother and Founder St Francis of Assisi:
just and merciful God,
and inflamed by the
fire of the Holy Spirit,
may we be able to follow
in the footprints of
Your beloved Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ.