This past week the formation class attended a session on nonviolence, a subject that candidate Annemarie is very passionate about. For this Mission Monday post she shares her reflection on the training and the connections she had made through her spiritual journey.
|Annemarie (left) at anti-war rally in Oct. 2010.|
Recently, as a part of our formation, we participated in a nonviolence workshop. This experience solidified for me something that I’ve been thinking about for many weeks here; the connection between Franciscan mission and the principles of nonviolence.
This connection is rooted for me in my college education. I recently graduated with a degree in Communication Studies from Loyola University Chicago, and in my last semester I was able to focus specifically on learning and practicing nonviolent communication.
In many ways, the opportunities that I had in college, both inside and outside of the classroom, offered me an education in nonviolence. I learned about the history and theories behind nonviolent social movements in the classroom. And outside the classroom, I grew in relationship with friends and mentors, deeply committed to nonviolence in their own lives.
Having this background and passion for nonviolence, I cannot help but hear the principles of nonviolence alive in the formation we are receiving.
The way that we talk about mission here at Franciscan Mission Service, to me, seems profoundly rooted in nonviolence. And I’d love to share with you a few examples of what I mean.
The values of fraternity and minority in Franciscan spirituality are one example. As lay missioners, we are taught to form relationships with people in communities overseas that are rooted in mutuality. We are taught to be open to both giving and receiving in the relationships that we form. We are taught to treat everyone we meet as sisters and brothers.
This understanding of mission reminds me of Gandhi’s belief that each person has a “piece of the truth,” and Martin Luther King’s Principles of Nonviolence, which explain that “nonviolence seeks to win friendship and understanding.”
Our grounding in a ministry of presence is another example. As lay missioners, we are taught that the relationships that we form with those we encounter are our foundation, the essence of our Franciscan mission. While I have been raised in a culture that defines success based on money and power, we are learning here to define success by the quality of the relationships that we form.
Gandhi’s Principles of Nonviolence said that “the means must be consistent with the ends.” Every day in formation I feel like we are learning how to live more consistently, to make our vision of the Kingdom of God be a guide for the lives that we are trying to live, to let our means be consistent with our ends.
In striving for this consistency, we are taking seriously the need for self-reflection. We are working through our own cultural biases, our own beliefs and assumptions about ourselves and others so as to better make choices that honor that “piece of the truth” in each of us.
This grounding in nonviolence as Franciscan lay missioners has been a source of great consolation for me. It energizes and strengthens my spirit all the time and reminds me often that it is a life long commitment to try to live nonviolently, a journey that we find courage to engage in relationship with one another.
From St. Paul, Minnesota, Annemarie graduated from Loyola University in Chicago in 2012 with a degree in Communications. Possessing a strong interest in social justice issues and some experience with international travel, she is preparing to go to Bolivia on mission for two years.