(This article originally appeared in Winter 2019 Issue #99 of TAU-USA)



CORPUS CHRISTI, TX – Under a domed ceiling depicting Christ feeding the multitude, Bishop W. Michael Mulvey shared spiritual food with Secular Franciscans as he helped them launch their National Chapter, held Oct. 15 to 20 at Pax Christi Liturgical Retreat Center.  It was the first time that the Secular Franciscan Order in the United States held its national gathering in Corpus Christi, with some 80 participants from across the country and Guam.

Like St. Francis, he noted, Secular Franciscans are “called to renew the church with the living spirit of Christ.”

Bishop Mulvey began his homily by sharing an affinity with the Franciscan charism, noting that his grandmother was a Secular Franciscan who brought him to Franciscan gatherings as a child, that his great aunt became a Poor Clare nun, and that he celebrated his second mass as a priest at the tomb of St. Francis in Assisi.

So, “it’s good to be among family.”

Bishop Mulvey noted that it sometimes can be hard for people “to accept reality as it is,” and, quoting Pope Francis, they can become “mummified.”

For example, when the Jews were wandering in the desert, they wished they could go back to Egypt. “We want to leave things the way they were, but the promised land is ahead of us…We need a different mentality today,” one that is not “mummifying”.

“Unless we remain in the living spirit of Christ, we dry out and wither,” and “we become mummified.”

The bishop urged Secular Franciscans to work with other groups to help the church. If we “come together – Franciscans as Franciscans, Carmelites as Carmelites, we could be a powerhouse! God has called you to be Franciscan today with the charism of Francis and Clare lived today.”

He said: “Let’s not point fingers at the church. Let’s get in there and help them as Francis and Clare would have done. Never be a part of the difficulty; be a part of the solution.”

He added: “We are in the desert. It’s not an easy task. But with the body of Christ (Corpus Christi), many parts and one head…we can become a powerhouse of spiritual strength that will renew the Church.”

Quoting the saint of the day, St. Teresa of Avila, he closed with a reassuring message, “If Jesus dwells in a person, that person can endure all things.”

The joyful sound of guitar music was provided by Bob Conces, OFS, from St. Francis of Assisi Fraternity in San Antonio.

At the close of the opening Mass of the Chapter, National Minister Jan Parker, OFS, thanked Bishop Mulvey for his encouragement to rebuild and renew the Church. “The (Franciscan) Rule says we are united most intimately with the Church… We are one body, one Lord. We are with you. You are in our hearts and in our prayers.”