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franciscan - September 2004

The Society of Saint Francis, 2004

Minister's Letter

Brother Daniel SSF, Minister General of the First Order Brothers, writes:


During the last few months I seem to have attended even more Chapters than ever.  I spent Lent in the Solomon Islands, back to Brisbane for Easter, then to the USA and on to the UK, attending five Chapters during this time, all very different and all very exciting.


In the Solomons we had the election to Life Profession of 2 brothers and to profession of another 10.  This, with the prospect of 8 more novices before the end of the year, was a very enjoyable event.  There was also the impressive way that the brothers were dealing with problems over land and the question of local support.


In the Australia-New Zealand Province, the process of visioning and new experiments with ways of leadership are continuing and there was also an election to Profession.  A wonderful feeling of new horizons, which was even more evident in the American Province, where links have developed between the Brazilian Order of St Francis and the First and Third Orders  of SSF.  It is planned that two SSF brothers will live with the six member conventual group in Sao Paulo from around the turn of the year.


In the European Province we had a most moving Life Professed Brothers General Chapter when some rather big issues were looked at, and a process for dealing with them was begun, a process in which I felt everyone was willingly involved.


In all of these the question of the right time seemed to be an issue. 


While I am in the Solomons, I have to remind myself that time has less urgency about it than in many other parts of the world. Sometimes, however, even there I get into conflict with time, as when I went to visit Brother Colin in a village on the top of a mountain.  I had already committed myself to preach at a service in another village partway up another mountain. The brothers said that travel to Colin's would be 15 minutes by truck to the road and a half-hour walk up the mountain.


We set out; 1 hour later we arrived at the road up the mountain, and after 2 hours climb we arrived with Colin.  He talked of his plans for that place as one where people could come for a time of quiet and refreshment.  We walked back rather  more quickly so that I could get to my other engagement.  All in time, even if not according to the clock.


A priest friend told me of his visit to a Buddhist Abbot in Korea.  He had climbed up the mountain to the monastery and sat down with the Monk.  Then he was asked, 'How did you come here?' to which he replied, 'I caught the train in Seoul then the bus'.  However, the question was rather, what were the circumstances in your life that have brought you to this place at this time?


As we look at our own lives and the events in our world, the conflicts and the violence, what brought us to where we are?  The joys, and sorrows, the successes and failures.  I have always believed that God has a plan for this world and for each of us.  We can go astray, but with prayer and quiet consideration it is possible to get back on track.  The small unimportant issues, like my worry about time, often do fall into insignificance. When we can stop and with the help of God take a closer look at the situation we are in, and get all of this into perspective, it is often easier to see what the next step should be.  Then we can step out in faith.


Pax et bonum. f


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CSF European Province First Order Sisters: Registered Charity Number 286615
SSF European Province First Order Brothers: Registered Charity Number 236464
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