Franciscan Mission Service presents: 

“Poor and Free: A Spiritual Yes to Less” every Friday in Lent

Series contributions: 

Today’s installment of our Lenten series is an interview with Sr. Marie Lucey (OSF). She is Director of Advocacy and Member Outreach of Franciscan Action Network. Providing a Franciscan perspective to social advocacy, her interview reflects the joyful freedom of how saying “Yes” to God allows us to respond to God’s love and call to serve.

How have your vows as a religious sister given you freedom through a commitment to living without material attachments?
I do not have the responsibility of a family or maintaining a home, so I’m free to give my time, energy and skills to the ministry of working for justice and peace.
Through your past roles as LCWR liaison to Coalition of Catholic Organizations Against Human Trafficking, among other justice and peace organizations, how has your commitment to spiritual poverty, or voluntary simplicity, inspired or affected your commitment to social justice issues?
I am no longer the LCWR liaison to the CCOAHT, but now represent Franciscan Action Network to this organization and others. My vow of poverty is not as much about material things as it is about availability, being open and ready to respond to the needs of others and the call to work for justice.
Sr. Marie Lucey at a rally for immigration reform

When faced with social injustices and political agendas unconcerned with the poor, many people ask, “What can I do?” How do you respond to that question? Where does the freedom of spiritual poverty fit into that response?

  • First, remember that you are not the savior of the world–there was only One– so know that it does not all depend on you. 
  •  Second, bring to prayer every injustice you address, not only personal prayer, but prayer in community with others, and also contemplative prayer. 
  • Third, become knowledgeable about the problem or issue you address. 
  • Fourth, speak truth to power, that is, to those who are in a position to make the change called for. 
  • Fifth, work in collaboration with others; don’t be a lone ranger. 

Finally, celebrate and keep a sense of humor. All of this requires the “letting go” that is the challenge of spiritual poverty.

Franciscan Action Network is involved in a campaign for just immigration reform. Does the concept of righteous anger have a spiritual role in such pressing social activism? Where should joy fit into our responses to social injustices?

We collaborate with members of the USCCB Justice for Immigrants Campaign and the Interfaith Immigration Coalition. Yes, anger at injustice is as true for us as it was for the biblical prophets and Jesus, an anger that leads to action calling for change in unjust systems. Deep joy is essential, the joy that comes from walking in the footprints, sometimes bloody footprints, of Jesus.

Despair or pessimism is paralyzing. Without hope, we might hear, but not respond to the cry of those who are poor, oppressed, marginalized. Faith, not in successful outcomes, but in a loving God, in the resurrected Jesus, in the unjustly treated themselves, keeps hope alive.

Sister Marie (OSF) previously served as her congregation’s Congregational Minister (President) after serving as Director of Corporate Social Responsibility, Justice and Peace Coordinator, and educator. She has participated in delegations to Nicaragua, Mexico, and a delegation of women religious to the Middle East to learn about the Iraqi refugee crisis in order to promote awareness, advocacy, and assistance. She currently serves Franciscan Action Network as Director of Advocacy and Member Relations.