On Sunday, December 5th, the Minister General visited the student friary in Silver Spring, Maryland. This was part of a larger tour of the US provinces to get to know the friars before provincial chapters this coming spring.
We had all been planning for some time to attend the Mass and dinner at the Shrine of St. Anthony the following day. But this visit was an added bonus. Friar Carlos arrived with our minister provincial and greeted each of us. Some of the brothers gave him a tour of our friary and the library next door. After the tour, he asked to sit with us in our living room and asked us a question: what does it mean to be a Franciscan friar today? What had drawn us into the order?
Looking back on it now, I think it was an important reflection to consider and a very important time of year to consider it. December in our house is hectic: it comes with exams, final papers & projects, last minute studying, in addition to the looming holiday season. It’s very easy in those moments to focus on the immediate and lose sight of the bigger picture. Many of the brothers spoke about how they were drawn to the friars’ realness and authenticity, helping to make the Lord present as St. Francis had done.
Many spoke of the unique mission of the friars to justice, peace, and care for creation. It helped the larger picture to come back into view.
The minister general is the successor of St. Francis, so to reflect with him on what it means to be a friar added another level of depth to the discussion. While Friar Carlos was very humble and fraternal, to hear a word of encouragement, a word of advice, or a word of blessing, was like it was also coming from our seraphic father as well.
– friar Rich Rome OFM Conv.