Iconic Franciscan Voices
Reflecting on the call to social justice, in the spirit of Friar Bede Abram and Sister Thea Bowman, I see it as answering the summons to live and incarnate the Gospel through being a preacher of the Word! As Christians, we see the world with the compassion of Jesus and respond to the plight of humanity with mercy and love, justice and forgiveness.
Thea and Bede were two iconic Franciscan voices in the urban wilderness of our country, which cried out for the dignity of the human person. Sister Thea offered her gift of multiculturalism to a world that had grown cold to the richness and diversity of God’s creation.
There was an urgency in Thea and Bede’s message that made some folk uncomfortable about the need to step up to the plate and do something. For we are not talking now about ideology, but the pressing needs of humanity. From the classroom to the sanctuary, Sister Thea and Friar Bede spoke a message of truth. Sr. Thea would often say, “I’ll tell you the truth, only if you can stand to hear the true truth!”
I found it ironic, that God sent these two giants into my life as a friar-priest, whose major fear in ministry was preaching. One Good Friday, I incorporated my recent experience of the death of my nephew, Michael, into the homily. It connected my own woundedness with that of Jesus; I felt drained upon returning to my chair. Friar Bede wasted no time in jumping up and congratulating me, exclaiming, “You preached!”
It is simply amazing whom God places on our “checkerboard” of life; Friar Bede and Sister Thea have been the gift of “spirit and life” for me. Their relationship patterned the love of Francis and Clare, which speaks to a hungry and thirsty Church. I’m challenged by God’s presence in my life; while I have breath, may I continue to preach in the words of Francis of Assisi: “Sisters and brothers, while we have time, let us do good! For up until now we have done but little.”
– friar Noel Danielewicz OFM Conv.