A time of change is upon us – not just seasons, but life stages and living arrangements and family ideals. During hard or just irregular times in our lives it behooves us to step back a moment and take a look at what we believe and HOW we might put those beliefs into effect in our lives.
So… here are some thoughts to ruminate on during those times:
Today is a gift. The present, and everyday miracles are all around us if only we have the eyes to see them.
Seek balance in our lives to recognize when we need to step back and let others take the reigns for a while.
Have the courage to say what we believe in LOVE; maybe (just maybe) nudging others towards TRUTH.
Recognize the Friends in our lives who are like Family and just let them KNOW how
important they are to us.
Acknowledge others’ hard work and thank the Lord for that work.
Allow not just others, but ourselves, the wonderful prospect of failure. We don’t move
forward and learn from our mistakes until we learn to Fail Smarter.
Last but not least, leave room in our lives for the Holy Spirit to take us out of our comfort
zones and show us where we might grow in His love.
As a Franciscan, I believe that sometimes the good I do this day is all I can do. I have to let go of outside issues and allow that good to flow from God through me. I’ll never be more than that.
PAX ET BONUM, Debbie OFS, Min.
Congratulations to our sister Lois McWhorter, OFS, who was professed at Our Lady of the Rogue River at Mass on Sunday, October 6th! We are so happy for her and thank the ladies from St Francis of Assisi Fraternity in Eugene for their presence to accompany Lois on her special day.
“May whomever observes all of this be filled in heaven with the blessing of the Most High Father, and on earth with that of his beloved Son together with the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, and all the powers of heaven and all the whole Church.”
Fr. Jim Clifford, Celebrant, blessing Lois
Lois with SFRV Council Members/SA
SFRV Fraternity with our wonderful sisters from St. Francis of Assisi/Eugene
We spent the remainder of the day as our Day of Recollection. It was a beautiful day of sharing and feasting. Thanks again to our sisters from St. Francis of Assisi who were the very best companions with their support and love.
The remainder of the Newsletter will be focused on
“What is it about St. Francis – on becoming a Secular Franciscan”….
It will be a bit to read but perhaps in one or another essay, YOU might find resonance.
We begin with Lois McWhorter, OFS‘ letter of request to be professed into the Order:
I would like to make a request to be professed into the Secular Franciscan Order. Through study, prayer and reflection, and with the assistance of all those on the formation team and the example, the kindness and the wisdom of all the Fraternity, I humbly wish to participate in your fraternal life. I’ve learned so much from all of you and want to continue on this path.
The Franciscan charism speaks to me of compassion, sharing, reverence for creation and all human lives, and of peacemaking. This is how I want to live my life, however imperfectly, and though I know I will be imperfect, you all make me a better person. I have hope that the grace of the Holy Spirit which led me here will guide me more deeply in the Franciscan journey, especially with the help and encouragement I receive from all of you, and I hope to be of service to all of you in any way I can.
Thank you for your consideration.
Peace and All Good,
Joanne Kraan, OFS/Secretary
Well, it goes back 22-23 years ago… I was going over to Eugene once a month with a couple of Carmelites from Klamath Falls, and I was in a John of the Cross study group. After a year or so a couple of the women over there told me it was time that I needed to make my mind up and join if I wanted to keep attending – Well, obviously when they put my back to the wall, I knew it wasn’t where I was supposed to be – I couldn’t make a commitment to them until I looked elsewhere, which happened to be Franciscan, so I called the national phone number and they gave me Mary Gulrich’s (minister at the time) phone. Mary spent close to an hour with me on the phone and I was really impressed with her patience in answering my questions, so I went to the next meeting at Paul and Elsie Williams. It was a whole different experience than over in Eugene! There were fewer people (24/25 as opposed to 40/50 in Eugene) The Medford Franciscans spent a good 30-40 minutes introducing themselves to me one by one. I learned something about each one of them, not just their names. I knew that first night that Franciscanism was for me – Eugene was just too serious and heady where Medford was friendly, happy and welcoming just like our poor little saint himself was. They lived up to my image of Francis, so that was all it took.
Michele Brodoski, OFS:
A childlike view of Francis came to me at a very young age having been brought up in a Franciscan parish in the late 1950s and 1960s. I did not learn so much about what it meant to have the Franciscan charism explicitly, but intuited more implicitly in the presence of those called to the Franciscan life. I remember the brown robes who walked the streets of the neighborhoods visiting in the evenings with their neighbors, the priests who came to dinner, who took the youth to SF Giants ball games, who were wide open (in retrospect) to the Holy Spirit in a very earthy way with their constant presence in our daily lives. They were joyful! People seemed to come first, which fulfilled the early stage “belonging” needs we all have, but I did not realize the gift of the Order until after all the Franciscans were pulled out and the diocesan priests came in. Even being a youth, it felt like the “metal of the system” came to replace the warmth of our brother Franciscans (my apologies to diocesan priests in my unfair limited assessment).
As a teen I read my first biography of Francis by Nikos Kazantzakis (Clare would come much later) and a new world opened up that would lay dormant for a time, but one that still hummed until the time was ripe. That ripening would take many turns as I had to go through what was my life, but I began to be drawn to Dorothy Day and Francis because they upended the system and radically cared for people first, especially those on the margins. Francis’s love of God and understanding of the Gospel that engendered his tenderness for the lepers, his courage to go to the Sultan, his commitment to Lady Poverty, his care for created things because everything bore the imprint of the Most High God, all lit a fire inside from the embers already planted in me. Francis’s upside-down view informed by the Gospels, beyond ideology, was so compelling that even after all these years of being a Secular Franciscan my heart still leaps with a beautiful resonance. And when I have not lived up to my commitments in life I have learned a lesson that “even if our hearts condemn us, God is always larger than our hearts” (James Finley), and in my own poverty, Lady Poverty teaches that I must pass this mercy on to others, which happens on my better days. The rest is left to the mercy of God and conversion of heart.
Of course I found a fraternity. I do not deserve it, but am so happy to be a Secular Franciscan! I so long to hear more journey talk and study beyond Sunday’s homily/Mass and without fraternity, without talking about our heart’s desires and the velvet demands of our charism, there would be a huge void. Still I am old enough to know that there will always be the terrible, beautiful God void, and that we are not called to be consumers of all things Franciscan to fill that void, but to live it. God takes care of the rest. “May Christ show us what is ours to do”. I am so grateful for all my brothers and sisters in fraternity, and the Franciscan family all over the world. Someday Assisi! Until then it is the soul before me. … Peace and Joy!
William Watson, Friend of Francis
In Kindergarten I heard the story of St Francis as told by Sister Michael Marie. Even at that young age, I thought “how was it that a man would take time to reach out to birds and the animals of the earth to speak about God?”. I always thought, “If I had a super power, I would talk to the animals.” Then the movie Dr Doolittle came out showing different ways of talking to the animals. But not like St Francis. The variety of life on earth amazed me. The beasts of the air, the ground and the sea all had purpose under God’s master plan. I was a part of that plan too. As young as I was, I had no idea of what would be my role in the plan.
I grew up with a small statue of St Francis in my room. In the second grade for First Holy Communion, I was to be in a bigger part of God’s plan. At Confirmation in the 8th grade, I wanted to be like St Francis still. In peace of family, the sharing within our means and giving of ourselves for the whole, was in my family. Each brother and sister had a participation task to make the family structure whole. This changed and grew as I grew older. I realized my parents instilled the ideals for all the family needs as this related to the church family, as it related to the city, as to the state, as to the country, as it is part of the whole world. I was a small part but an important one. St Francis of Assisi had Brothers and Sisters who were a small part but an important part of that day to spread the Word of Christ in their works. So I had chosen St Francis of Assisi as my confirmation name. No one else did.
Nursing is a humble job. I am a nurse in the home health field to help those in need as a caregiver, a support person, and a healer of wounds. I show my love for God’s children in what I do and how I treat the person with the same love as for a member of my extended family. I share the joy, the healing touch, the sadness and caring in their life as a whole person. I have joy in my work as I am taking pleasure in doing something good because it needs to be done. I believe in peace, love for my neighbor, love for my sisters and brothers, love for my enemies. I believe in life’s small miracles, joy in work, and hope for tomorrow to be better. Earth and all the creatures around me, and reading about the biodiversity within the now world, and looking back into the past creatures of the ancient worlds of this earth, has always astounded me. There is a purpose for all of God’s creatures.
I have three different statues of St Francis in my gardens. Each one is looking over a different place; one at the watering fountain, one at a feeding station, and one in a place of peace and reflection. I am so drawn to St Francis of Assisi that I have toured the town of Assisi and seen the burial places for St Francis and St Clare. I have seen the original church that was given to Francis to rebuild. I have a rosary from Assisi that was blessed by Pope Benedict. I carry this Rosary with me at all times. In writing this note, I realize I am Franciscan. I still wish I could converse with the animals.
Hank Hohenstein, OFS/Treasurer
A journey back over 75 years is not a trip one is often asked to take. We have to return to 1944 the height of WWII. I had not seen my father for two years. He had enlisted in the US Army immediately after Pearl Harbor and after training was sent to Persia (Iran) which was the only route the allies had to supply the Soviet Union with war material. Unbeknownst to me, my mother was concerned about the lack of positive masculine guidance in my life. I would be entering high school at age 12 at a very formative period in my life.
She decided that Christian Brothers Academy (CBA) would be a good fit from an academic and discipline perspective. CBA was a Roman Catholic, military, day school operated by the Christian Brothers of Saint John Baptist de La Salle in Albany, NY. It was an adventure to travel the 20 miles one way, each trip required travel by bus, car and Shank’s mare.
In-coming plebes had a one week pre-academic year training program. Among the things discussed that week was the possibility of a religious vocation. The Christian Brothers were on top of their game in keeping vocations in our prayers and activities. The brothers were not ordained priests so they had a working relationship with a Franciscan seminary in a neighboring city to provide the sacraments, added religious instruction and vocational guidance to our student body.
Every year CBA held a school-wide retreat in late October which was lead by our Franciscan priests. All academic classes were cancelled and we devoted the week to prayer, contemplation, religious study and sacraments. The presence of the Holy Spirit was palpable as spirituality was infused into 500 +/- boys aged 12 to 18. If during this week one expressed an interest in a vocation, one was placed on a vocations track which was further divided into brothers or priests. I selected the latter.
On the last day of the retreat during mass we would have two ceremonies. First, we would have a formal formation ceremony for those aspiring to join the Third Order of St. Francis. Secondly, we would have a profession ceremony for those who had been in formation for two years and had completed the requirements for entry into the Third Order. It was a serenely blessed ceremony. That year I entered formation and at the October 1946 retreat I professed.
My father returned home shortly after the end of WWII and with that life became full of tumult.
In looking back, I think I can say my education as a Brother’s boy became a solid foundation for all other education and many of life’s experiences. The brothers instilled a strong religious core that is applied today. They formed us to exercise responsibility as a personal habit. In our 3rd year we studied the ‘Imitation of Christ’ by Thomas a Kempis, published in 1441.
The Franciscan’s taught us about Francis and taught us how to blend his teachings and life into the spirituality of our daily religious practices and life. Those teachings built on the care of our environment and the care of the inhabitants of this world as taught by my father and mother.
Thank you for asking me to make this journey. Love, Hank
I sought out and found the Secular Franciscan Order. I was really questioning. At that time a priest in the family was the only real vocation. (My brother Fr. Peter is amazingly lovable and down-to-earth for all the favor that has landed on him.) I remember saying to the Almighty – You couldn’t want ME! I needed a sign, and asked for it.
I drove the 25 miles or so and was asked to meet the downtown Houston fraternity in Annunciation Church, even though we would go to community at another place. The sign was on my mind. Before I connected with the Secular Franciscans that day, there I was in the church looking up at the large mural above the altar. It was the Resurrection. For me it truly was the sign. That moment still is a thrill.
On another day in fraternity I just had to tell someone that I felt I was “called.” She, totally accepting, warmly said, “We all have our story.”
St. Francis was so Catholic. I was raised that way, too. Looking back at 35 years professed I have been in the place I am meant to be. I really know we are called to this “in the world, not of the world” vocation where our values are so needed.
John Goold OFS Vice Minister
Ever since my childhood, I was enamored by the numerous stories of St Francis. I enjoyed hearing about his love of nature, his encounter with the leper and his joyful heart. One story that always struck me deeply was his dramatic departure from family, giving up everything to follow his calling. I loved how he found God in everything around him.
What led me to becoming a Franciscan was both my attraction to St Francis plus the fact that he created a rule for everyone to follow not just Friars. I like that lay people aren’t an “afterthought” but an intrinsic part of the Franciscan family. There is a wonderful balance of communal prayer, reflection, social action and fraternity.
Finally, being a Franciscan means being part of an amazing group of brothers and sisters. Over the years of belonging to fraternities in Hawaii, Washington and Oregon, I have continually found caring, prayerful, loving people drawn together out of a love for Francis. I can’t imagine any other family I’d rather be a part of!
Acsa “Ace” Gregory, Inquirer
I chose to follow St Francis and St Clare when I was a youth. I was a Presbyterian child, yet I had heard about them and their mission way back when. I was first motivated to be a missionary for the Presbyterian Church at the age of 10. I wanted to spread the news of Jesus to everyone. Then I heard how St Francis had a calling to the poor, the animals and the environment. The story of how he preached to the birds and tamed the wolf clenched me. I forever loved him. As a convert to the church, I still have that yearning to be a missionary and I looked for ways to accomplish it. I found the SFO. Within the SFO we have many ways to proceed as missionaries of Jesus in our everyday lives. Through proper formation and support we can live our lives in such a way as to evangelize and lift up those who are less fortunate than we are and to protect the environment and animals.
28 Hank Hohenstein OFS
29 Paul Williams OFS
19 Michele Brodoski OFS
29 Debbie Wasche OFS
08 Anna Krueger OFS
26 Elsie Williams OFS
SFRV Fraternity Members Profession Dates
Joanne Kraan OFS (2001)
Elsie Williams OFS (1990)
Paul Williams OFS (1990)
Michele Brodoski OFS (2001)
Hank Hohenstein OFS (1946)
Lois McWhorter OFS (2019)
Glenn Ray OFS (1987)
Gloria Ray OFS (1987)
Debbie Wasche OFS (1996)
Ralph Wasche OFS (1997)
1 Blessed Beatrice of Silva, virgin of II Order
2 Blessed John Francis Burte, Severin Girault and companions, martyrs, I and III Orders
4 Saint Rose of Viterbo, virgin of III Order
17 Stigmata of Our Holy Father Francis
18 Saint Joseph of Cupertino, priest of I Order
20 Saint Francis Mary of Camporosso, religious of I Order
23 Finding of Body of Saint Clare
26 Saint Elzear of Sabran and Blessed Delphine, husband and wife, III Order
4 Our Holy Father, Francis, deacon, founder of Three Franciscan Orders
6 Saint Mary Frances of the Five Wounds, virgin of III Order
10 Saint Daniel, priest, and companions, martyrs of I Order
12 Saint Seraphin of Montegranaro, religious of I Order
20 Blessed James of Strepar, bishop of I Order
20 Blessed Contardo Ferrini, member of III Order
21 Blessed Josephine Leroux, virgin and martyr of II Order
22 Saint Peter of Alcantara, priest of I Order
23 Saint John of Capistrano, priest of I Order
26 Blessed Bonaventure of Potenza, priest of I Order
30 Anniversary of Dedication in Consecrated Franciscan Churches
4 Saint Charles Borromeo, bishop of III Order
7 Saint Didacus of Alcala, religious of I Order
13 Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, virgin of III Order
14 Saint Nicholas Tavelic, priest, and companions, martyrs of I Order
17 Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, widow, member and patron of III Order
18 Blessed Salome, virgin of II Order
19 Saint Agnes of Assisi, virgin of II Order
24 Commemoration of all the Deceased of the Franciscan Orders
26 Saint Leonard of Port Maurice, priest of I Order
27 Saint Francis Anthony Fasani, priest of I Order
28 Saint James of the March, priest of I Order
29 All Saints of the Franciscan Orders