Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Q concludes in a burst of joy

The 19th Q concluded with a burst of Franciscan joy, as National Minister Jan Parker, OFS, left the audience cheering and laughing as she belted out a special rendition of Gloria Gaynor’s “I will survive” – except that her lyrics changed it to “We’ve been revived.”

The outburst of song preceded the congress’ concluding mass (Sunday evening, July 3), which left celebrant Christopher Panagoplos, TOR,  wondering how he was supposed to follow that act. Nevertheless, the national spiritual assistant made a few quips himself that resulted in laughter rippling through the crowd.

“We had such joy these past few days,” Father Chris noted in his homily. “When we gather, it bubbles forth. We took a journey with Dan (Horan) and now we’re back to the beginning – penance.” He said St. Francis had identified himself with Secular Franciscans – the original brother and sisters of penance.

He noted that “prayer, poverty, humility, conversion” were the four values that Francis stood for, and that characterize Franciscan life today. In fact, the “charism of the order is conversion of life,” he said, and asked: How does this ongoing conversion have expression today?

Fr. Christopher Panagoplos, TOR
The answer is “to act justly,” to have a “simple and uncluttered life,” “to help the poor, the homeless, the abused, the unemployed, the neglected, homosexuals, refugees – the list goes on and on.”

He added: “The pope tells us to get our feet dirty… Let us start walking in their shoes to feel what they experience.”

In other words, responding to others’ needs “means we are humble and attentive.”
After all, “in God’s plan there is room for everyone.”

Outpouring stuns Sister Caritas

Sister Caritas, LSOSF
Following mass, before the throng of Franciscans could depart, Sister Caritas Barajingitwa of the Little Sisters of St. Francis (LSOSF) stepped up to the podium to express her heartfelt gratitude for the spontaneous outpouring of donations for her orphanage in Uganda. Earlier in the day, NAFRA PR co-chair Bob Stronach, OFS, stepped to the podium himself to tell everyone that someone was in their midst who responded to the AIDS epidemic that devastated families in Africa and opened a vocational orphanage, and that she was laying the groundwork to build a primary school. In fact, her work on behalf of children was brought to the attention of the U.S. Secular Franciscan Order, which honored her last fall with its Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Award.

Bob took out a $20 bill to give to Sister Caritas and invited Q attendees to do the same. In a matter of seconds, seculars and friars were lining up, handing over cash and checks, and hugging the nun. Donations continued throughout the day – which prompted Q Chair Susan Simeone to announce that a stunned Sister Caritas received a total of $6,556.95.