Franciscan Federation Conference Inspires and Challenges

Jason Miller, Katie Hunter from NRCAT, Sr. Marie Lucey and Sr. Annette Marie Lucchese
Jason Miller, Katie Hunter from NRCAT, Sr. Marie Lucey and Sr. Annette Marie Lucchese

"Cultivating Kindom Power" was the theme of the annual Federation conference (AFC) held this year in St. Louis, Missouri, and attended by about 280 members of Franciscan Third Order members and associates. Building on the challenges set forth at the 2013 AFC by Sr. Ilia Delio and Keith Warner OFM, Margie Will, OSF and Michael Crosby, OFM Cap developed the theme of Kindom (relational rather than kingly) power, stating that "Our charism/mission demands a clear understanding and contemporary proclamation of Jesus' vision of the 'Kingdom of God' which is the Governance of Trinitarian Love at all levels of life."

Michael offered a social analysis that acknowledges a cultural breakdown of connectedness between the personal level and the group, and urged a move from closed systems to an alternative of creating Communities of Entrustment that transcend our "tribal" boundaries, communities based on meaning-making that are cross-cultural and cross-communal. He encouraged us to reclaim Francis' original grasp of the Gospel of "kindom," of relationship, which mirrors God as Trinity and to press the Trinitarian structure of I-Thou-We onto everything. Michael also urged us to claim and act on our identity as mystics and prophets.

Margie provided a brief review of the evolution of Christian religious life through the centuries, a life which continues to evolve in response to signs of the times in light of the Gospel. Our challenge now, Margie believes, is to a new form of religious life based on patterns of relatedness, which will not happen overnight but calls for patient, persistent evolution. Francis and Clare offer inspiration for a Trinitarian community of equals, an open organizational system evolving as complex, living, permeable enough to allow the new to enter, with capacity for flexibility and resilience.

Federation members approved the JPIC Committee's Resolution (see below) that renews the Federation's pledge to work for the elimination of human trafficking, and this year relates the work to climate change which forces persons to relocate and increases their risk of victimization. As an immediate action, members were asked to call their Senators and Representative in Congress to support HR 4842, the Business Supply Chain Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act of 2014, a bi-partisan bill introduced in June. An announcement was made about the People's Climate March in New York City on September 21.

FAN's Jason Miller staffed the exhibit table, and Sr. Marie Lucey attended the conference.