(This article originally appears in the TAU-USA Spring 2022 issue #105)
By MARY T. STRONACH, OFS
For the second year, virtual hugs and warm smiles filled the computer screens of between 80 and 100 regional ministers, national leaders, spiritual assistants and observers. From across the country, they converged on screen for the 2021 National Chapter, prepared to engage in discussions and make decisions for the good of the Order.
Prayer helped the participants to focus. New regional ministers met for the first time in their own session and were reminded to “allow the Holy Spirit to hold the reins” as He will “give you courage to do what you have to do.” National Minister Jan Parker offered the powerful insight that the “state of the order depends on the state of each one of us,” and then, provided an overview of the U.S. Order and a vision for the future. In a brief appearance from Hungary, Minister General Tibor Kauser reminded everyone to have “a clear vision of our identity” because “with- out knowing who we are, we will never know what we should do.”
A full agenda assured attendees that this event, although from the comfort of their couches or kitchen tables, would require their attention, hard work and wisdom.
The national budget was presented and approved. The Peace Award for work done with refugees and undocumented immigrants at the southern border brought tears to the eyes of participants. The Formation Team brought the OFS Ritual to life. Spiritual Assistants provided insights on Franciscan spirituality through the Liturgy of the Hours, mass and formation, emphasizing that “prayer and contemplation are the bedrock of our engagement with the divine.” As is customary, attendees also had their “day away,” a virtual trip along the trails, peak and ravines of Yosemite National Park and Ash Mountain. And, for those who needed a little more excitement, participants from Florida had to hide in a closet because of a tornado warning. They returned shortly, safe and sound in the arms of the Secular Franciscans awaiting them on the Zoom call.
The theme for 2021-2022 brought the National Chapter to focus with its man- date from Psalm 31:25: “Be strong, take courage, all you who hope in the Lord.