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Vocations “come and follow me”

Living the Franciscan missionary vocation: between witness and temptations

During the Pentecost Chapter 800 years ago, the Franciscans decided for the first time to send the friars into the world and open themselves to universal mission work. Centuries later, the Franciscans’ call to missionary work has been confirmed and new challenges have arisen. These topics were discussed at the conference entitled “Francis goes: vocation is a mission” on May 9 in the hall of the Immaculate One at Saint Savior’s Monastery. Fr. Massimo Tedoldi, former Secretary for Missions and Evangelization of the Order of Friars Minor, brought up the example Saint Francis of Assisi: “The first pulpit from which Francis preached was his life.”

The Friar then recalled the five priorities that summarized the aspects of the life of the Friars Minor, begun in 1997 with former Minister General Giacomo Bini: life with God, fraternity, minorities, evangelization and formation. The goal is to “recover with the five priorities the essence and essence of our Franciscan life.” According to Fr. Massimo, the missionary dynamic of Saint Francis has been made visible through each of these aspects.

How can today’s Franciscans carry out their mission? We have to close the door to five fundamental temptations: the “relativism of priorities,” the “paper theology," “monastic stabilitas,” consumerism and individualism. Fr. Massimo explained that among all of the possible priorities, the first one must be to love God, which then leads theology to become flesh so that it does not just remain on paper. Pope Francis’ invitation to “go out beyond themselves” is also a warning to counteract “monastic stability,” consumerism and individualism. “Witness, thus, is the first form of evangelization,” said Fr. Massimo.

“This conference helps us to carry out our missionary life in an ever changing, joyful way,” said Fr. Marcelo Cichinelli, guardian of the Custody’s monastery of Saint Savior. He gave us the reading key that help us to end with temptations. "
At the end of the conference, Fr. Massimo had positive words about the Custody of the Holy Land. “The Custody is certainly a pearl of the Order with the beauty and grace that the friars live out in the Holy Land. The friars must be generous in exporting this missionary [charism].” Among the challenges that await the new evangelization, the friar sees one as fundamental: “Listen to the invitation of the San Damiano cross: ‘Francis, go.’ In the first word, there is vocation, and in the second, there is mission.”

Sister Lole, a Franciscan missionary of the Immaculate heart of Mary who lives and works in Damascus with the Custody, was among the audience. “What I have heard is true,” she said. The difficult situation of the war has pushed us to open up. Before we had our neighborhood with our Christian youngsters, but then this year, we started a psychological support project for kids who are traumatized by the war. We started working with Christians and Muslims and I see that our witness reaches more Muslims at times. When we welcomed them, they changed: their face is more joyful. Our home and our church are part of their lives today.” However difficult, living and being a witness with our lives is the key. Fr. Massimo also concluded: “The street is a very great doctor for the Church: Jesus taught on the street, worked miracles, told us who he is, like in the parable of the Samaritan. So before we make table strategies, we have to go in the street to see what the poor teach us. They give us our identity. By walking on the street, we are with Christ.”

Beatrice Guarrera


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