Holy Spirit Province Saint-Esprit
Franciscans of Canada - Franciscains du Canada
Ordo Fratrum Minorum
The theme of this newsletter is Evangelization in the Spirit of Saint Francis and the Franciscan Tradition. Obviously, this year, our evangelization efforts have been greatly affected by the current global health crisis. How can we speak of the theme of evangelization without situating it in the context of the pandemic that has been going on for nearly two years?
In the early Middle Ages, Saint Francis of Assisi carried out what was called a return to the Gospel. In the Church of his time – whose representatives were often closely connected to the richest and most powerful people of the day – Francis chose to draw near to lepers, the sick, the excluded and the marginalized. He helped, cared for and loved them, and he sought God with them.
During the COVID-19 pandemic that took us all by surprise and whose gruelling duration has become so draining and discouraging for many people, what does the example of Saint Francis teach us? It seems to me that his spiritual legacy invites us to follow him in an evangelical movement toward those who are most in need in our societies. I am thinking in particular here of the elderly and young adults, who seem especially affected by this health crisis. We know that anxiety and mental health problems are increasing, especially in relation to the sense of isolation that is one of the side effects of this pandemic. Why, therefore, not follow Saint Francis’s example to draw closer to the most vulnerable people of our communities, to be a sign for them – through our actions and our words – that they are not alone and that God loves them? That’s a good way to embody one of the main pillars of the missionary zeal of Saint Francis: care for others and nearness to the poorest, as taught by and put into action by our Lord Jesus Christ.
Brother Pierre Charland, OFM