Conventual Franciscan Friar John Stowe is the pastor and rector of the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, Ohio. In today’s video, he speaks about Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation for the entire Church to become more missionary. Many of our very worthy ministries involve administrative and other duties that might not include evangelization.
Pope Francis reminds us that we need to reach out to others with our faith because countless people need Jesus in their lives. They are waiting for you to introduce Jesus to them. Friar John, in his video, says that Pope Francis is a wonderful example of how to share our faith with others. He is kind, generous and open. We must also try to be like this to people we encounter so that they may see the richness and beauty of our Roman Catholic faith.
In 1996, a number of diplomats and consuls at the United Nations in New York formed the Diplomatic Society of St. Gabriel, a not for profit institution that promotes peace and humanitarianism. The society carries the name of the Archangel Gabriel who is the patron saint of all diplomats. The 12 points of the Diplomatic Society’s Cross refer to the Prayer of St. Francis, which begins with the lines, “Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace; Where there is hatred let me sow love.”
St. Francis of Assisi is of course an excellent example of diplomacy at work. During the Fifth Crusade in 1219, he famously spoke about the Christian and Muslim faiths with the Sultan of Egypt instead of engaging in the warfare that typified all the crusades.
The Diplomatic Society of St. Gabriel sees great value in the spirituality of St. Francis of Assisi. Its spiritual protector is Conventual Franciscan Friar Patrick Greenough. Friar Patrick is the Minister Provincial of St. Bonaventure Province in the Midwestern United States as well as the President of the Militia Immaculata in North America. Founded by St. Maximilian Kolbe, the Militia Immaculata is an international organization of more than 3 million members who evangelize to others about the richness of our Catholic faith.
Conventual Franciscan Friar John Maurer turns 75 years old this year. He has been serving the homeless and the addicted and generally vulnerable for more than four decades. In today’s video, he points out that his ministry continues today. Friar John still stands on street corners in St. Louis, Missouri and listens to stories told to him by men and women who have been cast out of society. He serves these brothers and sisters of ours by driving them to appointments and assisting them in any way that will improve the quality of their lives.
Friar John has also earned his accreditation as a certified nursing assistant. This accreditation has given him the opportunity to provide homecare to people suffering from chronic diseases. Today, he serves the residents of a nursing home where he organizes bingo games and arts and crafts activities. Friar John is after all a craftsman who enjoys woodwork and can with ease repair the odd thing that might break at the friary. In essence, he is a man who lives out what it means to be a Franciscan every single day of his life.
In today’s video, Conventual Franciscan Friar Jim Kent speaks about the leadership style of Pope Francis. The Holy Father, like St. Francis of Assisi, leads through service. He goes out to the suffering and vulnerable and brings them solace. He encourages priests and religious to do the same. His leadership also involves collaboration. Pope Francis prays for us, but also asks that we pray for him. The Cardinals in our Church assist him too.
Friar Jim is the Minister Provincial of Our Lady of Consolation Province in the Mid- and Southwestern United States and is inspired Pope Francis. He comes from Columbus, Indiana and has been a solemnly professed Conventual Franciscan for 24 years and an ordained priest for 23. Prior to his work as minister provincial, Friar Jim served Our Lady of Consolation Province as a vocation director.
On April 27, 2014, Pope Francis will canonize Blessed Pope John Paul II. To celebrate this event, Conventual Franciscan Friar James McCurry reflects in the video featured here on his encounters with the late pontiff.
Their first meeting took place in 1976 before Blessed John Paul II’s election to the papacy. At that time he was Karol Wojtyla, the Cardinal Archbishop of Krakow, Poland. On a visit to the United States, the future pontiff lectured at Harvard University on an esoteric topic in philosophy. Friar James was studying at the university at the time and attended the lecture. He noticed immediately the breadth of Cardinal Wojtyla’s philosophical understanding and his excellent command of the English language. Although, he did not speak personally with the Polish cardinal at the time, the man left a strong impression on Friar James.
Friar James’ remaining encounters with Pope John Paul II took place in Rome and the Vatican. From his description, the Holy Father comes across as a gentle, loving man who had a sense of humour and an intense relationship with God. He encouraged Friar James in his faith, blessed important objects for his family and Order, and inquired about his life. Decades after these encounters, it is obvious that Friar James is still very much moved by having been in the presence of Pope John Paul II.
Currently, serving as Minister Provincial of St. Anthony of Padua Province in the United States, Friar James will become the Minister Provincial of Our Lady of the Angels Province in May 2014. This new jurisdiction will come into existence when Immaculate Conception Province and Friar James’ St. Anthony Province unite. The new province will encompass the eastern United States, Canada and several other countries.
Music during Mass helps energize parishioners so that they may more intensely focus on the celebration. Conventual Franciscan parishes across the United States and Canada have many excellent music ministries. Pastor Friar Paul Gawlowski’s St. Paul of the Shipwreck Parish in San Francisco, California is one of these.
Last Sunday, parishioners and visitors to St. Paul of the Shipwreck had the opportunity to listen to the Shipwreck Gospel Choir during Mass. Featured here is the choir’s performance of “Take me to the King.” With director Diane Crowther, the choir produces beautiful music in praise of the Lord. In the “Take me to the King” video, Keah Moffett is the lead singer. Listening to the performance one notices how it unites the entire congregation in one faith-filled voice.