The Work of Our Hands
The ministry of the friar minor is to proclaim the Gospel in word and deed. Francis encouraged his brothers to “work with their hands” while urging his brother preachers to “let their words be brief and well chosen.” For Francis it was most important that, whatever their work, the brothers “be careful not to appear outwardly as sad and gloomy hypocrites but show themselves joyful, cheerful, and consistently gracious in the Lord.”
Mendicant was a word attached to the friars early on and it means being out on the road-- outside the monastery walls-- where Francis sought refuge in the early days of his conversion. Today, “mendicant ministry” is a title for initiatives launched by friars who desire to connect with brothers and sisters in places like hospital emergency rooms, Native American villages, foreign missions, and the streets of the inner city—places beyond “the tried and true” where the Franciscan habit, or even the Catholic Church may not be readily understood.
“Come away and rest awhile.” These words of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark have often served as the motto for the retreat ministry initiated by the friars in the western U.S. over 60 years ago. While restful and unhurried, prayer and reflection in peace-filled surroundings is not a passive escape from the activity of the world. On the contrary, the rest fostered by retreat ministry is often the contemplative seedbed of renewed and reinvigorated service embracing the radical challenge to love boldly in a world of conflict and violence.
For Franciscans, the parish is the hub of a Church which today is challenged to promote a vision charged with hope for Catholics who witness to and pass on the treasure of a religious heritage that is "ever ancient, ever new." The parish is where it all comes alive: community, liturgy, festival, and, most importantly the day-to-day life of discipleship—with its struggles and joys-- among the people of God.
Outreach ministries are the works specifically devoted to the poor and marginalized. The province's largest outreach centers are located in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and in the city of Guaymas, Sonora (northern Mexico). St. Anthony's Foundation, St. Francis Center, and Casa Franciscana together serve over one million meals a year to the hungry! St. Anthony's alone serves an average of 3,000 meals a day! Outreach includes social services, grocery and clothing distribution, employment assistance, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, and even medical care.
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