Co-Minister Shoshanah Kay’s Address to OFS/NAFRA

You, Secular Franciscans,
have thousands
upon thousands
upon thousands of members.
We, Ecumenical Franciscans have tens upon tens.

You are pushing 800 years old.
We are barely 30 something.

Measuring our years to your years,
we are but kid-Franciscans.

Measuring our size to your size,
we are barely more than a local fraternity.

We are an Order, not a local fraternity.
But, nevertheless, let’s stay with that image:

Imagine a really big fraternity of the
biggest-hearted Franciscans you could ever meet.
But scattered all across the United States
and several more flung across several seas.

Bighearted Franciscans, committed to Christ and to one another
as Catholic and Protestant, clergy and lay,
married, partnered, single and celibate,
of various ages, genders and sexual orientations,
varying in education, profession, possessions and passions.

Bound together by a fascination with Francis and Clare
in their joyful abandon and reckless surrender
into the abundant, overflowing, unlimited Love of our Living Lord.

Gentle, generous love which these two — our guides and yours —
held in tenacious trust and expressed in tender attention
to the least, the little, the lost and the leper.

On the surface, we may look very different from you.
But at our deepest cores, the difference fades fast.

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Here and there, and now and then, we in our little Order
get together in 2’s and 3’s or 10’s and 12’s.
And once a year, we make a really big effort
to gather all together — in one spot — for 5 days.

During these 5 days, our Chapter/Convocation,
we go deep; we get close.
We milk these days for all they are worth.
Because we don’t live close.
And, for some of us, it’s all we get — face-to-face —
— these 5 days —

We worship; we pray; we sing; we laugh.
We wonder together . . .
We argue sometimes. We offend. We falter.
We break bread.
We learn to forgive.
We begin again. And again. And again.

From this year’s Chapter, I could share many things.
I choose to share this one:
We made a decision.
A decision to discern — together — in prayer —
about anything and everything.
Trusting that Our God will lead us
to who-knows-where
to do who-knows-what
who knows how
and God knows why,

And no matter the what, where and why,
we just wanna be true.

~ ~ ~ ~ * ~ ~ ~ ~ * ~ ~ ~ ~ * ~ ~ ~ ~ * ~ ~ ~ ~ * ~ ~ ~ ~

My husband and I just sent our youngest off to college.
He went on crutches with a broken leg.
He said he wanted wings.

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We, your Franciscan kid brothers and sisters,
stuff our backpacks full of youthful optimism and Franciscan idealism
And we set off — as if to change the world.

We want to be the best that our churches gladly are
and all that our churches, sadly, are not:
humble and honest and open
inclusive, inviting
daring and caring
listening and giving
surrendered and willing
courageously kind
warm and alive
faithful and free.

We want to follow Jesus like Francis and Clare.
We want to kiss the leper, feed the hungry, save the planet,
stop the violence, end the war, tear down the walls,
build the bridges, light the darkness, rebuild the Church.

We mean so well,
yet we fall so hard . . .
But we get back up
and try to walk
with our broken leg
as we pray to God
and beg for wings . . .

~ ~ ~ ~ * ~ ~ ~ ~ * ~ ~ ~ ~ * ~ ~ ~ ~ * ~ ~ ~ ~ * ~ ~ ~ ~

By this, I mean to say:

We are not a perfect little Order of perfect little mini-monks.
We are — each and all — a mix and a mess.
And our beautiful, blessed, beloved little Order
can be as dysfunctional, distracted and distressed as any.

But we stick it out and we stick together
Because we’ve caught a glimpse
of the humble Christ
who walks among us
and shows a different way
and a bigger love.

So we look for Him.
We listen for Him.
We try to be still and we try to wait
’til we catch of glimpse of this humble Christ.

Then we run to catch up
And we try to pitch in
And we work so hard
And we mean so well
as we try to walk
with our broken leg
to who-knows-where
to do who-knows-what
who knows how
and God knows why
‘Cause we just wanna be true . . .

We just wanna be true
Just like you
— with your thousands of faces and hundreds of years —
— we just wanna be true —

So just like you, we stick it out and we stick together.
We strain to see
’til we catch a glimpse
of the different way
and the bigger love.

Then grabbing hands
and holding tight,
We throw down our crutches
and we run to catch up.
We roll up our sleeves
and we try to pitch in.

And we pray to God . . .
and we beg for wings . . .

Shoshanah Kay, Co-Minister, Order of Ecumenical Franciscans

About John Michael

Pastor, teacher, husband, dog walker, gardener, petrocollapse agitator, contemplative, hiker. Currently serving as a Formation Coordinator for OEF and Dean of VT/NY conference of Lutheran Synod.


  1. Dear Sister Shoshanah,
    So beautifully said. I’m in tears. You truly captured the heart of THIS Franciscan. And, at the tender age of 57 years, I LIKE being referred to as a “kid”. Thank you for so lovingly representing our little order. May you be richly blessed!

  2. This is powerful. While i am not a member of your order i am deeply moved by the honesty and integrity of this message. Blessings in the journey to serve the Risen One.

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