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ffc 04Sisters and Associates who attended the Franciscan Federation annual conference in June included: (back row, left to right) Anne Cabanas, Sr. Mary Madonna Hoying, Sr. Karen Hartman, Sr. Ann Cecile Albers, Sr. Jo-Ann Jackowski) and (front row, left to right) Joan Mills, Sr. June Casterton, Sr. Marie Clement Edrich, Sr. Paula Huecker, Sr. Teresita Samson, Sr. Mary Veronica Donohue, Sr. Pauline Sweeney, Sr. Mary Jacinta Doyle, Sr. Mary Maloney, and Sr. Arleen Bourquin

Nearly 245 Franciscan Sisters, Brothers, and Associates explored various aspects of Franciscan moral and political thinking at the 2015 annual conference of the Franciscan Federation of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis of Assisi in the USA (AFC) that met June 19‒22 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Keynote speakers discussed issues relevant to evangelical life today under the conference theme, “Responding to God’s Love, A Franciscan Moral Vision.”

Sharing the Franciscan Vision

ffc 03Sr. Mary Maloney (left) ends six years’ service to the Franciscan Federation. She introduced honorees with Sr. Nancy Surma, a Sylvania, OH, FranciscanThe three-day conference included keynote presentations:

  • “An Aesthetic Moral Vision,” by Sr. Mary Beth Ingham, CSJ, that focused on the importance of beauty in Franciscan spirituality. Moral living as a Franciscan requires a sensitivity to God’s beauty surrounding us. She spoke of the “way of beauty” developed by the Franciscan scholar John Duns Scotus.
  •  “The Human Spirit: Searching for Truth, Desiring the Good,” by Fr. Thomas Nairn, OFM, based heavily on the theology of the Trinity as reflected by St. Bonaventure and his understanding of conscience. For St. Bonaventure, conscience directs human judgment regarding what we should or should not do. Pope Francis says that conscience is the inner space where we can listen to our heart that helps us to listen to and hear the truth. It is the place of our relationship with the One who speaks to our heart that helps us to discern and to understand the path we must take—all based on love.
  • “Political Economy from within the Evangelical Life,” by Fr. Joe Chinnici, OFM, was a practical application of sharing God’s gifts as a part of our Franciscan vocation. Recognizing that in the past, for him as also for most of us, poverty was a practice confined to ourselves and little to do with what was going on in our world. Then Gaudium et Spes (Joy and Hope: the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World) gave us a whole new language: option for the poor, human rights, unjust wars, racial equality along with a new thrust for social justice. So our poverty took on some different characteristics: gratuity—all has been given to us; change demands patience; human limitations need to be accepted; affirm goodness. There will be a final justice in the world economy in which we live. It is not our job to change the world—God will do that. Our job is to suffuse the world with love.

ffc 02Sr. Pauline Sweeney (left), last year’s SFP honoree at the Franciscan Federation’s annual conference, pins a corsage on this year’s SFP honoree, Sr. Paula HueckerThe AFC’s Future

During a session that included a report from the Dare to Image Committee, Franciscans had the opportunity to share their visions for the future of the AFC. The AFC President, Sr. Eileen Golby, OSF, of Clinton, Iowa, highlighted the work of the Dare to Image ad hoc committee that the AFC National Board established in 2014 to discern the future of the Franciscan Federation. She said the National Board designated the year July 2015‒June 2016 as a Sabbath Year of reflection and prayer by the membership with a focus on “how we can revitalize, refocus, redesign, and increase inclusivity as we are in a transformative moment in the life of the Federation.”
For the Sabbath year, Sr. Marilyn Trowbridge, a member of the Dare to Image Committee, created a Sabbath keeping ritual for a booklet that was distributed during the conference and made available to Franciscan Congregations afterward.
The National Board thanked Sr. Mary Maloney for her six-year term of service as she leaves the National Board.

ffc 01Sr. Ann Cecile Albers (left) holds the Franciscan Federation certificate honoring Sr. Paula Huecker for her generous sharing of her time and talents to bring beauty to others

SFPs Attend the Conference

Three Franciscan Sisters of the Poor—Sisters June Casterton, Mary Maloney, and Arleen Bourquin—served on the conference planning committee and integrated the conference theme and logo in their assigned tasks: Sr. June engaged the assistance of Sr. Adelaide Link to help keep the environment simple by placing a copy of the conference logo and a candle in the center of each table and by placing planters of flowers near the podium. Sr. Arleen with the help of Sr. Karen Hartman planned the Friday evening opening ceremony that was based loosely on Vespers and integrated music, dance, and Franciscan sources. Sr. Mary organized the banquet that honored the men and women Franciscans who were nominated for sharing beauty with those they served.

At the June 21 banquet, Sr. Paula Huecker was honored as a generous artist who sews and designs clothing for Sisters as well as paints to enhance the Sisters’ living environment on the Magnificat Unit at St. Clare Convent. Her special guest was Associate Anne Cabanas, her coworker on the Magnificat Unit.
Also representing the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor at the conference were Sisters Ann Cecile Albers, Mary Veronica Donohue, Marie Clement Edrich, Mary Madonna Hoying, Jo-Ann Jackowski, Mary Louise Sahm, Teresita Samson, Pauline Sweeney, and Associates Joan Mills and Ruthy Trusler.

The AFC Marks 50th Anniversary

In 2016 the AFC conference theme, “Celebration 2016,” will mark the 50th anniversary of the Federation’s founding. The whole Franciscan Family will be invited to gather June 17‒20, 2016, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

 Sr. Marie Clement Edrich and Sr. Arleen Bourquin

Published: October, 20, 2015