As many of you may be aware, six of the seven Franciscan (OFM) Provinces of the United States began a process a few years ago that will result in the six provinces becoming one province. The tentative date for that merger is October 2023. As you might imagine it is a difficult process that involves Franciscan Friars from the East Coast, the West Coast and the Mid-West seeing how best we can come together as Franciscan brothers. With diminishing numbers, aging of the provinces and the need to explore how best we might share the Franciscan Charism with others in the 21st century and beyond, this formation of one new Province has been energizing and difficult for the friars and all those we serve.
The recently elected head of the world-wide Franciscan Order, Br. Massimo Fusarelli, OFM, recently sent a letter to all the friars in the USA. In that letter he wrote, "The development of a vision and mission that more and more friars can be part of is an important part of this process. This means articulating ways of living our Franciscan charism in the diverse regions of the U.S., in accordance with the principles of our Rule and Constitutions and guided by the values to which the Church and the Order invite us to be witnesses. The fact that Franciscan life in the U.S. is so various and multifaceted gives special value to the process you are undertaking, something in which the entire Franciscan Order has in interest.
I want to stress that we really want this to be a journey towards life, towards the flourishing of our charism. This is a prerequisite if we are to be effective witnesses to the Gospel in our times, in our complex societies."
With the easing of some COVID restrictions on gatherings, the Franciscans of the six provinces have begun meeting in regions of the various provinces to discuss our coming together as one province. I mention this process so that you are informed of how we Franciscans are continuing to follow the guidance of St. Francis who shortly before his death reminded his followers, “Let us begin again, brothers, for up until now, we have done little or nothing.” (cf. St. Bonaventure, Life of St. Francis)
The Franciscans of the Chicago area will be gathering for a Regional Meeting on Saturday, September 4 from 9:00am until 3:00pm. Because all the friars are expected to attend this meeting we have had to make an adjustment in our Saturday ministry schedule for September 4. The church will open as usual at 12noon on September 4 but there will only be confessions scheduled from 3:00pm - 4:30pm.
Please note that there will be no confessions scheduled from noon until 3pm on Saturday, September 4. The front desk will be closed all day Saturday. The Gift Shop will be open 12noon until 5:00pm as usual. The church is open for private prayer from 12noon until the 5:00pm Mass begins. The church will close as usual after the conclusion of the 5:00pm Saturday Vigil Mass.
The Franciscan Friars ask that you keep us in your prayers next Saturday, September 4 as we gather for our Regional Meeting. We will be keeping you in our prayers on that day. May God's Spirit continue to guide us as we search out how best to live the Gospel in the 21st century guided by the spirt of our holy founder, St. Francis of Assisi.
Since 1894 the first Monday in September has been observed as a federal holiday to honor workers in the USA. The first Monday in September is also observed as Labour Day in Canada. Originally established to honor the nation’s working people this holiday has come to be seen as the end of the summer season.
The past few years have seen many people struggling to keep or find adequate paying jobs for their families. The devastating effects of the COVID pandemic, political turmoil in many countries, economic struggles of many people throughout the world continues to make life difficult for individuals, families and nations. As Jesus notes in Luke 10:7, as he sends the seventy-two disciples out to prepare the way for him, “… the laborer deserves his payment.”
The Catholic Church has a long history of speaking out for the rights of workers. Papal encyclicals such as Pope Leo XII’s Rerum Novarum helped establish rights and better treatment for workers everywhere. Recent Popes such as John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis have continued to call for the dignity of workers throughout the world. You can find various statements from the Popes, Bishops and other Catholic commentators on the Vatican web site, www.vatican.va, US Catholic Bishops Conference www.usccb.org and various other Catholic web sites.
Next weekend (September 4-5) as you enjoy the Labor Day holiday weekend, I encourage you to also take time to seriously study the various ideas and reflections of not only those who are politicians, but also what we as Catholics believe about the dignity of work. Enjoy this holiday but also remember why we celebrate Labor Day! As we celebrate the “end of the summer season” let also take time to say thanks and pray for all workers who struggle each day to care for their families. And may every student, as they begin a new school year, study hard so that they might be well prepared to be good and faithful citizens and just stewards of the blessings God has given to each of us.
I encourage you and your family to begin Labor Day by joining us for our special Labor Day Mass, on Monday, September 6 at 10:00am in church. Let us gather to give thanks to God for the blessings we have received. The church offices and gift shop will be closed on Monday, September 6. There are no confessions scheduled on Labor Day. Our regular schedule resumes on Saturday, September 7.
Unfortunately for far too many people in our city and throughout our great country this holiday weekend brings the sad reality that in the past year they have lost a relative, friend or neighbor to violence.
I encourage you to write or call your city alderman, mayor or county representative and let them know of your concerns for working toward finding an end to the increasing violence in our city and neighborhoods. I encourage all parishioners to write or call our state politicians and our national politicians and express our concern that action must be taken to protect the young and everyone else from this senseless violence that has become a plague upon our city, county, state and country. To find the name of your U.S. Representative or Senator go to house.gov. To find who is your Alderman in the City of Chicago go to chicago.gov To find your state Representative or Senator go to illinoispolicy.gov
In these difficult times let us keep one another in prayer, and as we celebrate Labor Day may we keep our eyes on what must always be our focus..... faith and belief in Jesus Christ who is the Savior. Let us resolve to do whatever we can to help end this scourge of violence in our city.