By Alexander Aboutanos
On Wednesday, March 21, 2018, at The Lay Centre, we welcomed two quite distinguished Franciscans, Fr. Michael Anthony Perry, OFM, the Minister General of the OFM Franciscan Family, and Fr. Russel Murray, OFM, General Animator for Evangelization. Clearly standing in the ethos of St. Francis, their relaxed and humble style led our conversation into laughter, joy, and companionship. I often forgot I was speaking to prestigious churchmen, it felt more like a conversation with the brothers of Francis.
Having spent most of my adult faith life “under the wing” of the Franciscan OFM Friars, I am familiar with the joys of this religious order. The Franciscan OFM spirituality is very special. As my priest back home is a Franciscan, he has trained me to have a sharp care for the underprivileged, a focus on bringing all those into the light, and an unwavering energy in performing corporal and spiritual acts of mercy. With this spirituality, I watched as he slaved away, day and after day, to serve the physically and spiritually poor around him. I admire this order strongly and it was a treat to meet its leader.
Fr. Michael Perry celebrated a mass in our small chapel. His homily encouraged us to have strength in proclaiming the true God, as did Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego under the persecution of King Nebuchadnezzar. After the mass, Fr. Michael Perry presented The Lay Centre with a beautiful Italian copy of the old Franciscan prayer for peace, a very thoughtful gift. Then, the friars joined us for a great dinner prepared by Sandro, our cook. Before they left, we all prayed the Franciscan peace prayer together. At the end of the evening, Fr. Michael Perry thoughtfully shook hands with each one of us, even remembering our names. May God bless these wonderful friars in their ministry and may God make us instruments of his peace.
Franciscan Peace Prayer
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring love.
Where there is offense, let me bring pardon.
Where there is discord, let me bring union.
Where there is error, let me bring truth.
Where there is doubt, let me bring faith.
Where there is despair, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness, let me bring your light.
Where there is sadness, let me bring joy.
O Master, let me not seek as much
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love,
for it is in giving that one receives,
it is in self-forgetting that one finds,
it is in pardoning that one is pardoned,
it is in dying that one is raised to eternal life.
By Alexander Aboutanos