By Diane Menditto, OFS
National Vice Minister

Listen Audio: 3:34 min.

Diane Menditto, OFS National Vice Minister

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As I write this, I am on my way home from Rome after attending a meeting of the CIOFS International Formation Secretariat. Working with my brothers and sisters has been such a positive and uplifting experience that I began to think about why this would be so.

Have you given any thought lately to the fact that we are all members, not only of our local fraternities, but also of the Regional, National, and International fraternities? My time this past week with the CIOFS Formation Secretariat brought this point home beautifully.

The Secretariat members come from all over the world. We are from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, the Czech Republic, Romania, and the USA– a real alphabet soup! Our two common languages are Spanish and English. Sometimes, I get to serve as the translator, but for this meeting, one of the Presidency councilors who speaks Spanish, English, and Italian joined us.

We last met in person two years ago, but this past week, we began our meeting as if we had never been apart. The rhythm of our conversation and our work was smooth and pleasant. Our prayers and our meals were heartfelt and hearty. We spoke in whichever language was comfortable at that moment.

You may find that this happens when you get together with long-time friends or family. But, isn’t the same thing often true when we gather with our Franciscan brothers and sisters?

The Secretariat cares deeply about our Order and about the formative material we are creating that will bring all of us closer to God and strengthen our vocations. Even though our local fraternities are thousands of miles apart, we walked together in the footsteps of St. Francis. We discussed what can benefit every member in every local fraternity throughout the world.

What is truly special and emotional for me, though, is to see how people of different backgrounds, languages, and cultures are so much alike in our love for one another, for God, and for our Franciscan vocation. The Holy Spirit has given each one of us the exact gifts and talents we need to allow us to get along and to be productive. It’s a bit of a miracle to see what even a tiny (6 of us) “temporary” Fraternity can accomplish if we are open to the Spirit and to one another.

Let’s all thank God for this gift of fraternity. It is a priceless gift that we should never take for granted. It is a pearl of great price, a treasure, that we should take great pains to preserve and share with others.