Sunday, September 27, 2015

Report of the Regional Chapter

Sept. 16, 2015 -- Regional Minister Al Picogna, OFS, donned an apron and ball cap, turned to the audience and said:

“We are your servants.”
That’s how he set the stage for his State of the Region address at the Regional Chapter held Sept. 11-13 at the Comfort Inn & Suites on Buckley Road in Syracuse.
His portrayal of servant leadership came after he had welcomed minsters, delegates and guests, and introduced the national visitors, National Councilor Mary Bittner, OFS, and National Spiritual Assistant Matthias Wesnofske, OFM Cap.
The visitors opened the chapter with prayer and words on the significance and spiritual quality of a visitation.
Friar Matthias described what he looks for: “Do I see a spirit of joy, peace, love for one another…the Franciscan Spirit?”
Mary described the visit as “a means to promote fidelity to the Franciscan charism.”
The Chapter segued into a formation session on part of the Rule, with the discussion zeroing in on seeing Christ in others.
Formation Director Layna Maher put on music to spur reflection, and the words of the song spun the idea of seeing Christ in an opposite direction – “let them all see You in me… let them hear You when I speak.”
In his State of the Region talk, Al cited a few statistics about the region:
  • 24 established fraternities.
  • 423 active or active excused members.
  • 18 inquirers.
  • 5 in orientation.
  • “an astounding 41 candidates”.
  • 12 members embracing Sister Death.

The region’s thrust for the coming year, he said, is to encourage fraternities “to break out of the mold” – “to try new things” -- “to look at ways to make the fraternity come alive.”
In other words, “be innovative… Don’t always do the same thing… Do not be afraid to try something new and creative and innovative.”

Regional Treasurer James Fagan proposed a 2016 operating budget of $30,804, which was approved.


The Regional Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) Award went to Holy Family Vocational Orphanage Foundation in Binghamton, which supports an orphanage and school of the same name run by the Little Sisters of St. Francis in Uganda. St. Bernardine of Siena Fraternity Minister Mike Dwyer, OFS, who nominated the foundation, accepted the award on behalf of the foundation, along with Sr. Caritas Barajingitwa, LSOSF, founder and director of the orphanage and school. Sister Caritas, who had been stationed in Binghamton for a while raising funds for her vision to help children orphaned by the AIDS epidemic, flew in from Uganda to attend the Regional Chapter. She also was to attend the National Chapter in October to receive the National JPIC Award.

Following the presentation, which included a $100 donation, ministers, delegates and observers contributed another $747 from their own pockets. A silent auction for a statue of St. Francis raked in another $200 for the orphanage – bringing the total contribution to $1047.

Sister Caritas, visibly moved, paused and then said: “The Lord is good, all the time. I don’t know what to say…To tell the truth, you are my heroes in this project.”

Pax et bonum

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Avoid plastic water bottles

Pope Francis has called us all to respect the environment. He even set aside September 1 as “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.” As Franciscans, we have a special concern for all of creation.

One of the simple, practical ways to help protect creation is to stop buying and using bottled water.
There are many reasons to avoid bottled water.

First, the bottles are produced from petroleum. The production and transportation of bottled water consumes millions of gallons of oil annually. In addition, it has been estimated that it takes 2,000 times the energy to produce bottled water than it does to produce a comparable amount of tap water.
Although many of us try to recycle, the truth is that not everyone can do so or does, and not all those bottles can be recycled anyway. As a result, billions of pounds of plastic bottles are added to landfills each year.

Depending on the quality of the bottles, many plastic bottles leech chemicals into the water they contain. Those chemicals have been linked to all sorts of disorders, including cancer, diabetes, weight gain, and infertility. Plus, government regulations that cover municipal water do not cover bottled water. Tests of bottled water have sometimes shown that bottled water actually contains more pollutants than does municipal water.
Bottled water is sometimes just tap municipal water that may have – though not always - gone through an extra step of filtering,  but then is sold for many times the actual cost of the water.  For us in Rochester, this seems especially unnecessary as our tap water has been judged as among the best in the country.

Some of that bottled water comes from companies based in drought regions – such as California – thus helping to add to the droughts.  In some places, the companies throw their economic weight around to make sure they get more of the water to sell, depleting the supply for the local residents.

What can we do?

If concerned about water quality, buy a water filter for your tap, or buy one of those pitchers that can filter. It’s actually cheaper than buying bottled water. Use a recyclable container for carrying your water; just fill it from your tap or filter unit.

This is just one way we can cherish Sister Water and to show our concern for the rest of creation that St. Francis so loved.

Pax et bonum