SPECIAL TO THE CATHOLIC HERALD
“My God … My All,” the sixth annual day of reflection will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, March 30, at All Saints Catholic Church in Milwaukee.
The gathering is sponsored by the Black Catholic Ministry Commission African Catholic Committee and funded in part by the Catholic Stewardship Appeal, The Black and Indian Mission Grant, Washington, D. C; and by in-kind support from the Society of the Propagation of Faith and free-will donations.
Each year, the committee selects a theme tied to a goal in either the National Black Catholic Plan, pastoral reflection connected to the archdiocesan synod or in the case of this, strengthening prayer life, explained event co-organizer Antoinette Mensah.
“This event will focus on three of the seven significant moments in the life of St. Francis,” she said. “We will focus on Franciscan spirituality with a mix of presentations, small-group sharing and silent meditation. We will emphasize the simplicity of St. Francis as we look at various encounters in his life that helped him more fully encounter Christ.”
Facilitators for the day will be Sr. Lucy Marindany, LSOSF (Little Sisters of St. Francis) and Sr. Irene Ogutu, FSSA (Franciscan Sisters of St. Anna).
Sr. Marindany serves as the vice president of education and childcare services with St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care, Bucyrus Campus, Milwaukee. She holds a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in education and administration from St. John’s University in New York. Sr. Lucy has been a member of the Little Sisters of Saint Francis Congregation for 29 years and has facilitated many workshops and courses on the sources and life of St. Francis of Assisi.
Sr. Ogutu is a graduate student at Marquette University pursuing a master’s and Ph. D. degrees in chemistry. She holds a bachelor’s degree in education, with an additional focus in chemistry and biology. Sr. Irene has been a member of the Franciscan Sisters of St. Anna for 21 years. Franciscan spirituality has been at the core of her initial and ongoing formation through the Comprehensive Course on Franciscan Missionary Charism (CCFMC).
Sr. Ogutu will present a reflection on some of the key moments of St. Francis and will provide the general introduction of the person of St. Francis.
“Francis’ encounter with the leper, who after controlling his natural repulsion, he embraced and gave all his money, a pilgrimage to Rome, where he was pained at the miserly offerings at St. Peter’s,” said Sr. Ogutu. “So, he gave all his money and swapped clothes with a beggar, and a vision of God commanding him to ‘God … and repair my house, which as you can see is falling into ruin.’ While praying in a ‘forsaken wayside chapel’ called St. Damien just out of Assisi started him on a different course of life.”
Sr. Ogutu said that it’s St Francis’ experiences along with many other encounters that led him in founding the first order of Franciscans, then the Second Order, Poor Clares and the third order regular and secular Franciscans.
“He is a saint of all times, all people and his way of life speaks well to the spirit of Lent, calling for conversion, in line with almsgiving being that he spent his life begging to care for the poor, fasting and prayer because despite his active engagement in the service to the community, he fasted and set out time for intense prayer and urged his companions to do the same,” she said. “Most of all, his love of nature has a lot of influence on the papal encyclical of Laudato si in which Pope Francis is inviting each one to be engaged in caring for our common home. Lastly, this year marks the 800th anniversary of his meeting with the Sultan, a great step in promoting interreligious dialogue in our contemporary society.”
Sr. Marindany explained that the goal of the reflection is not to serve as a lecture, but to help the faithful pray better.
“My sub-topic will focus on Saint Francis and the leper: ‘Embracing the lepers around us.’ I will lead a discussion on medieval Assisi, St. Francis before, during and after the encounter with the leper,” she said. “There will be interpretation of embracing the lepers around us; discussion on who are our lepers today, lepers in our society today to include categories of lepers or modern-day leprosy camps and colonies. The faithful will be divided into small groups and given questions to discuss and pray about.”
Additionally, Sr. Marindany will give a reflection and meditation on “My God and my all,” St. Francis’ words of total surrender.
“St. Francis prayed continuously using these powerful words and I’m going to use his phrase to draw people closer to God in prayer, while maintaining silence,” she said. “I’ll use a short narrative from the sources of St. Francis to describe a wealthy Lord Bernard of Quintavalle, who observed Francis in true communion with God and wanted proof. We shall reflect and meditate on the tremendous devotion Francis had for God and how these words touched his heart; how the Holy Spirit inspired him to change his life and follow Francis.”
If You Want to Go:
My God … My All Lenten Day of Reflection
Saturday, March 30
8:30 a.m. 3:30 p.m.
All Saints Catholic Church
4051 N 25th St., Milwaukee
The day of reflection is open to all
Continental breakfast and lunch provided
There is no cost for the event, but a free-will offering will be taken