JPIC - Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation
The mission of JPIC is to assist the Professed Secular Franciscans as they reflect on their relationship with God as manifested in the fruits of conversion in their lives. This with special regard to the daily choices made in the areas of justice, peace making and respect for all created things and people; as brothers and sisters of penance, bringing life to the Gospel and the Gospel to Life.
Pope Francis says: "In a spirit of compassion, let us embrace all those fleeing from war and hunger, or forced by discrimination, persecution, poverty and environmental degradation to leave their homelands."
For Secular Franciscans, what can we do to bring relief to those who are suffering in the world? We can and we must PRAY!
Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot?
by Andy Buchleitner, OFS (Received 1/4/2019)
The New Year! Hooray. Made it to another one. Thank you dear God!
I’m sure we all gave time to reviewing our relationship with God (and neighbor?) during Advent as we prepared for this new beginning. As for myself, my examination of conscience made me question just how well I am “running my race,” especially regarding my perseverance. With my busy schedule and worldly concerns have I not, perhaps, forgotten some old acquaintances? Have I cut my service short to those still in need by moving on to another challenge too soon? Or did I just get “burned out” trying to solve the unsolvable, seemingly kicking my foot against that same rock without causing it to move.
I had an opportunity, a number of years ago, to visit Haiti a year after it was devastated by a terrible earthquake. I met a young man there who was working as a “toy renter” for one of the cruise ship lines. As we got talking, he said some things that have had a profound influence on my ministry life. He began by praising the U.S. for all the help they had given to his Haitian people in their time of need. Without this help, he felt, Haiti would not have survived. He went on to describe the destruction and how so many were left homeless, without any means of support, who had to look to a neighbor that might still have something left they might be willing to share. He considered himself one of these fortunate; his house had remained livable. And, although it was a small one-room dwelling, he felt blessed to be able to invite six needy displaced people to share his home with his wife and child.
The one point that still vividly sticks in my mind from our conversation was his comment that it certainly would have been much appreciated if the support they were receiving shortly after the disaster would have continued until his people were able to stand on their own. He wasn’t criticizing, for he was very appreciative of what had been given, but was simply pointing out a sometimes forgotten fact that the job of putting people’s lives back together is, many times, not a quick fix. He also mentioned that, although the cruise line that supported him was a blessing, he was living day-to-day completely dependent on the few times that they would schedule their cruises to his port, allowing him to work. As he was the only wage-earner in the home, I felt his desperation. He even prayed for more tourists - so unlike many of us who try to discourage these interlopers from invading our domain and ruining our natural resources. Tourists, for him, were seen as a blessing for they would continue to allow him the privilege of working/sharing.
I now see my community’s current situation after Hurricane Michael in much the same way. Living in the distressed area, I have also seen a truly remarkable initial outreach. People were amazing in their generosity. The government made good efforts in feeding the hungry and many homeless were taken in or provided with shelter - at least for the first month or two. Many neighbors, and even complete strangers, donated enormous amounts of time, treasure and talents. It was truly a beautiful thing to see. Unfortunately, what began with a “bang” has now become a painful silence. One case in point, and I hate to be negative but, involves 500 homeless people who were initially given tents and allowed to stay on some church property in Panama City. Everything was working pretty well, at least as well as sleeping in a tent in the winter can be, when, after a couple months, the church was pressured into “evicting” the tent-dwellers from their property. The City asked this as they felt the “tent city” was an eyesore that would deter the tourist trade. Whatever the case, I see in this incident that, once again, perseverance was indeed lacking in providing help until the problems were overcome. Maybe our problem is, that after our initial effort, we just give up, thinking we have nothing left to give. Take heart! St. John Vianney, the patron of priests, assures us; “I have given much from my empty hands.” So can we - persevere!
For a number of years my wife and I took care of a Haitian girl, who, now a woman, holds two Masters degrees and is married to a doctor (she did good!). She also directs an orphanage in Haiti for children with AIDs. For years I had been active with my support for her ministry - until I stopped. No reason. Shame on me! But my New Year’s resolution is to, once again, become involved in supporting her efforts that have unfortunately been challenged by several severe hurricanes recently. Perhaps you will join me in reviewing where you might also have “dropped the ball” by not persevering in some effort to serve. Let us together not forget “old acquaintances” but, with renewed zeal, reach out to those that continue to struggle.
Now, for something completely different. It’s time, once again, to ask that you consider who, in your opinion, has shown that perseverance in their outreach/JPIC efforts that would identify them as someone to be recognized for our next yearly JPIC award. The award, (including a drum roll by Marie Thomas), will be presented at our Annual Meeting this Spring. Please consider the attached outline of suggested attributes (while sharing this with your fraternity) and get back with me with your selections. Even Jesus needed some encouragement, which He received from His Father, ”This is my well-beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.” Let us also give praise and encouragement to those who especially deserve it. See: https://www.dmf-ofs.org/special/jpic/jpic-awards/
May God bless the Franciscan Order with special grace this new year.