Monday evening we gathered for the opening ritual--a reflective prayer and a beautiful interpretive dance performed by a group of children and teens. This prayer paved the way for the very beautiful and reflective prayer time we would experience throughout the week. Most of the hymns and prayers were projected on two large screens in an effort to be environmentally conscious.
Over the next three days, our speakers developed--both in individual presentations and in discussion--the conference theme, "Responding to God's Love: A Franciscan Moral Vision." On Saturday, Sister Mary Beth Ingham, CSJ, addressed the issue of "An Aesthetic Moral Vision" and was later joined by Fr. Thomas Nairn, OFM, and Fr. Joseph Chinnici, OFM, to discuss the issue. Similarly, the participants discussed the topic at their respective tables and shared their ideas and questions with the speakers.
(L-R) Fr. Tom Nairn, Fr. Joe Chinnici, Sr. Mary Beth Ingham
Saturday afternoon we heard a report from the "Dare to Dream" ad hoc committee on looking at the future of the Franciscan Federation and on ways to "widen the tent." This issue became a topic for a table discussion and an opportunity to share the outcome of those discussions with the committee.
A symbolic representation of "widening the tent"--expanding the membership and thrust of the Franciscan Federation.
Sunday morning the key speaker was Fr. Tom Nairn who addressed the topic, "The Human Spirit: Searching for Truth, Desiring the Good." His presentation developed the idea of the Franciscan moral vision from the stance of St. Bonaventure. Again we had time for both table discussion and for addressing questions and comments to the presenters.
Sunday afternoon was dedicated to meetings. We all gathered for the business meeting, an important part of which was the acceptance of the 2015 Statement of Resolution:
"Be it resolved that we, as persons of faith in relationship with all of Creation, and in a privileged position of faith leadership within our society as members of the Franciscan Federation, are called to personal and communal reflection that leads to action to sustain our one planet Earth, so that all creation may share in the generous gifts of Earth provided by our Creator and Sustainer God. Climate change, especially those changes caused by human ignorance, indifference, and greed, calls us to be prophets of change--to act in prophetic ways to halt human-induced abuse of Earth's resources that are given to be shared by all. As followers of St. Francis of Assisi, we are called to right relationship with our Sister Mother Earth, our home."
We also chose individually which of the three commission meetings we would attend: Commission of Elected Leadership, Commission of Regions, or Commission of Charism. I opted for the latter and found the discussions very enjoyable. There was a general discussion on the planned revision of the federation website and about the use of social media. I felt right at home! At our individual table, we discussed the ways in which we are or might be sharing our charism with our lay associates--our Companions in Mission.
Sunday evening we gathered in the ballroom for the annual banquet. Our congregation had two full tables of participants. During the prayer service, the various congregational honorees were acknowledged. As our names were called, our photos were flashed on the screen. We stood and the entire group prayed for us. Then everyone else stood, the honorees sat, and everyone sang the Blessing of St. Clare. "May you always be with God wherever you may be. And may God be with you always." It was truly a blessed, deeply touching moment for me--one that I'll never forget!
Srs. Sara Marks, Colette Gerry, and Kathy Dougherty blessing me.
Our whole group gathered for a photo after dinner. (Standing l-r) Srs. Anne Amati, Marie Lucey, Kathy Dougherty, Kathleen Moffatt, Colette Gerry, Jean Nisley, Ann Marie Slavin, Esther Anderson, Mary Farrell, Dominica LoBianco, Patricia Kane, Lynn Patrice Lavin; (Kneeling l-r) Srs. Betty Kane, Sara Marks, Patricia, Diane Tomkinson, Patricia Hutchison, Maria Orlandini
When we left the banquet, our sisters gathered in the hotel lobby and continued the celebration.
Saturday--our last day! Our key presenter was Fr. Joe Chinnici who addressed the topic from the stance of "Political Economy from Within the Evangelical Life." His thoughts focused on the world in which we life today and the moral implications of the decisions we are called upon to make. As in the previous two days, the presentation was followed by table conversation and interaction with the three speakers. The conference closed with a commissioning prayer service--again beautifully planned and carried out.
The conference was, for me, a deeply moving experience. I feel that the presentations touchéd me deeply, putting into words a way of looking at situations, people, and life that has actually been part of me as long as I can remember. And the support and love that I've experienced from my sisters has touched me deeply!