Dear Community and Friends of the Church of St. Francis of Assisi,
May the Lord give you peace.
We celebrated the feast of the Baptism of the Lord on the day after Epiphany. This brings to a close our celebrations of Christmas 2022. Thank you for all your support during the holy seasons of Advent and Christmas. Our gatherings were beautiful. Many people braved the cold to be with us for Christmas in person and many more participated from home. All our ministers and ministries were experiences of grace. Thank you all. We also had visitors from around the globe. It is good to be a place where so many feel welcome. Your hospitality is a great gift.
As I write this letter, we have just received a statue of St. Benedict the Moor. St. Benedict was born (1525) to enslaved African parents who had been brought to San Fratello, a small town near Messina, Sicily. He, himself, was freed at birth. Benedict, a shepherd, did not attend school. He was kind to the poor. After encountering Franciscan Friars, living as hermits according to St. Francis’ rule for hermitages, he gave away his possessions and joined the friars. He became the leader of the small band of Franciscan hermits which was later incorporated into a larger fraternity living the Rule of St. Francis. He was recognized for the depth of his spiritual understanding and was asked to work with the novices. Ultimately, he became the Guardian of the friar community. He was not a priest, nor had he had the opportunity for studies. He was known for his intuitive understanding of the scripture and human nature. Benedict had a reputation for healing and for his care for the poor. It is also to be noted that he enjoyed cooking. He served as a cook for the community of hermits and later for the larger friar community. St. Benedict died in 1259. We are blessed to have him as our brother. (No doubt, Fr. David would have asked him to film something for Friar Chef!)
This incredible work is a gift from a donor. Indeed, it recognizes our own Secular Franciscan Fraternity of St. Benedict the Moor.
Blessings and thanks,
Thomas M. Gallagher, ofm