Monday, July 2, 2012

Over 500 Franciscans Converge on Chicago

Sr. Ilia Delio, OSF
More than 500 Franciscans converge on Chicago July 3-8 for the U.S. Secular Franciscan Order's Quinquennial Congress. Held every five years to bring Secular Franciscans, friars and sisters together as a family from across the U.S., the Quinquennial this year focuses on gaining insight into the call by St. Francis of Assisi to live the Gospel in one's everyday life.

Chicago Archdiocese Auxiliary Bishop George J. Rassas welcomes the group and presides at the opening liturgy Tuesday evening, July 3, at the Holiday Inn Chicago North Shore Skokie Hotel.

The keynote speaker is Franciscan Sister Ilia Delio, OSF, author and senior fellow at Woodstock Theological Center, Georgetown University, where she concentrates in the area of science and religion. 

Sister Ilia will address the conference theme, "Why Francis? Claim the Gift!", and follow up with talks on a Franciscan view of God and a Franciscan understanding of the human person.

Patrick Mendes, OFS
"Perhaps no Franciscan writer today has enjoyed the kind of appeal Sister Ilia engenders wherever she goes," noted Patrick Mendes, OFS, of Chicago, Quinquennial co-chair along with Clare McCluggage, MD, OFS, of Vancouver, WA. "She has appeared in the History Channel's 'Ancient Aliens' series, and lectures nationally and internationally on theology and spirituality, with an interest in integrating Franciscan theology into contemporary questions."

Sister Ilia, a member of the Franciscan Sisters of Washington, D.C., is currently involved in research projects on technology, evolution, and ecology. She also is exploring the theology of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. She is former chair of spirituality studies at Washington Theological Union. Sister Ilia holds a doctorate in pharmacology from New Jersey Medical School/Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and a doctorate in historical theology from Fordham University.

She is the author of ten books; among them, "The Humility of God," "Christ in Evolution," and "Care for Creation," which won two Catholic Press Book Awards in 2009. Her newest book, published in 2011, is "The Emergent Christ: Exploring the Meaning of Catholic in an Evolutionary Universe."

Other speakers include:

Br. Bill Short, OFM
-- Br. Bill Short, OFM, director of the Franciscan Retreat Center in San Juan Bautista, CA. He will give an overview of the Franciscan family. He holds a doctorate in sacred theology from Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, and has been teaching Christian history and spirituality at the Franciscan School of Theology at Berkeley since 1983. 

He is the author of numerous books and articles on the Franciscan tradition.

Pat Brandwien-Ball, OFS
-- Patricia Brandwien-Ball, OFS, a retreat and spiritual director from Maine who has held a number of leadership positions in the Secular Franciscan Order. 

She will discuss the Franciscan Rule and the Order's presence in the world. 

She is a former national councilor for the order and former national chair of the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission.

-- Edward L. Shirley, OFS, professor of religious and theological studies at St. Edward's University, where he has taught for 25 years. He will explore tools for a more authentic spiritual life. 

EdShirley, OFS
He holds a doctorate in theology from Fordham University and specializes in Trinity, Christology, Mariology and interreligious dialogue. He is national chair of the Ecumenical/Interfaith Committee for the Secular Franciscan Order.