By Br. Elijah LeFevre
The mission statement of the Joint Committee on Franciscan Unity is: “For the sake of creation, we are called to bear witness to the essential unity of the church, the Body of Christ, by working towards Franciscan unity in all of its expressions. We will achieve this through dialogue and collaboration among the Orders which follow Christ in the traditions of Francis and Clare.”
Since I have had the honor of representing OEF on the Joint Committee, I have personally witnessed a many great things. As a young Order, OEF continues to grow into its gifts, talents, and finding a sole purpose within a vast community of believers. In doing so we are also called to create integral relationships with others. This, my brothers and sisters, is what JCFU does. JCFU, over the past 10 years or so, has already laid out the ground work for these special relationships to take place among Franciscans from various faith traditions. Where the Church had been divided over time, JCFU seeks to bring understanding and acceptance of one another in a world where separation seems easier than acceptance. When you come to a JCFU gathering or conference (which I encourage everyone to do at least once) you will find yourself among a larger family. This is an opportunity for acceptance to be up front and center among the participants. By the end of the gathering they seem more like a core family unit rather than an extended one. Relationships are made with little to no effort and bonds are instantly formed through the divine call of Saints Francis and Clare. And with JCFU there is a baseline understanding that we are ALL Franciscans, and this my brothers and sisters is never questioned. It always tickles me pink when someone new from another Order first learns about OEF. Most of the time they have questions about the inner workings of our unique band of Franciscans, but the reaction always received is a smile and burst of excitement to know we OEFers are present in this day and age.
My OEF siblings, I truly believe with my heart that our growth and place among the greater Franciscan family is dependent upon the relationships that the Joint Committee on Franciscan Unity continues to foster and work towards. So please know, the financial support gifted to JCFU from the participating Orders goes a very long way and is put to great use for the betterment of the Franciscan family as a whole. And among the vast Franciscan family of many denominations, OEF should feel honored to take the seat with only two other Orders to make this work possible. And as JCFU continues to work and pray for unity, we also ask that you take a moment and pray for us since there is still a lot of work to do.