Thursday, June 30, 2016

’My heart came to life’ (Day 1)

Father Pio
ST. LOUIS, MO -- “As soon as I hit the door, my heart came to life.”

That comment by Fr. Pio Jackson, OFM, perhaps summed up best what the opening of the Quinquennial Congress meant to a throng of Secular Franciscans, friars and religious sisters.

Celebrating the opening mass June 30 in a packed grand ballroom at the Renaissance St. Louis Airport Hotel, Father Pio pointed the theme of “Reviving Our Spirit” as timely and appropriate – especially when it’s the Secular Franciscan Order that often inspires and lifts his spirit.

Father Pio
Friar Pio
Joy and hospitality characterize the Secular Franciscan charism, he said.

“Out of the side of Christ flowed blood, water – and Secular Franciscans,” he said to laughter and applause. “As long as there is one Secular Franciscan in the world, there will be joy.”

He added: “You are at the heart of the church” -- that “dynamism we need to revive our hearts… (where) one act of charity can change the world.”

Noting that the Quinquennial coincides with the jubilee year of mercy, Friar Pio urged the crowd of over 550 Franciscans to work at knowing “how to read hearts,” to avoid anything condemnatory, and to meet the challenge “to give a transfusion to the rest of the word” – “to set it on fire.”

In other words, “revive yourself so you can revive others.”

Following mass and dinner, National Minister Jan Parker, OFS, introduced General Minister Tibor Kauser, OFS, who struck a similar tone, urging everyone to spend time at the congress experiencing and spreading joy.