This past July our Program Director Rhegan Hyypio traveled to Milwaukee, WI to attend the Annual Franciscan Federation Conference, which brought together Franciscans from all over the United States to embrace the Gospel and examine how St. Francis and St. Clare drew specifically on the Gospel of John in how they carried out their daily ministries.

Program Director and Returned Missioner Rhegan Hyypio alongside the Franciscan Sisters of Sylvania, OH.
“We are the sacred flames that darkness cannot extinguish.”
These were the words announced at the Annual Franciscan Federation Conference in the presidential address given by Sr. Ramona Miller, OSF. As followers of the Franciscan tradition, the Franciscan religious and laity were called to examine the reality of the struggles in the world and how they can act as a sacred light, or flame, in the midst of suffering. In their work and their spirituality, both action and contemplation, those who follow in the footsteps of St. Francis and Clare become the flame to those living in darkness, those living in homelessness, those who are suffering at the hands of human trafficking and violence.

Both key note speakers, Fr. Michael Blastic, OFM and Sr. Nancy Schreck, OSF emphasized a thorough study of the Gospel as a guide for living out mission and our ministries. As Nancy Schreck, OSF, “Our work is a matter of attempting to relive the original charismatic experience rather than to simply study it.” In other words we are able to be witnesses to the Gospel just as Francis and Clare did in their ministry as they used the scriptural readings of St. John the Evangelist as a guideline for how they lived and served.

“We cannot stop with being inspired, moved, illumined, and enriched by the Franciscan-Johannine vision, ” said Sr. Nancy. “That is just not enough. Rather we must be transformed by it, so that others may also come to see and enjoy the vision as well.”

We can consider this in light of the lay movement of Franciscan Mission Service and our central focus on transformation. Our lay missioners, like Francis and Clare, take the time to study the Word before they depart for mission. The Gospel is an intrinsic part of their formation before they depart for mission, where they will rely on that guidance to act as a light to those who have suffered from devastating poverty, human trafficking and violence. Our missioners will continue to focus on that gospel message as a means of “becoming a sacred flame” and witness through bringing the love of Christ, in the spirit of St. Francis to those who have struggled at the hands of injustice.

During the conference, FMS was able to share our charism, of how our missioners strive to demonstrate Christ’s transforming love in the spirits of St. Francis and St. Clare.

According to Rhegan Hyypio, it was a great opportunity to come to the Franciscan Federation Conference and meet so many Franciscan religious who were excited to become more involved with FMS’s overseas lay mission program. Many of the orders FMS was able to meet have international sites and the sisters would be eager to welcome lay missioners to serve alongside their Franciscan orders overseas in the future.

A view of Milwaukee, where the conference took place.