For this Franciscan Friday post, missioner candidate Annemarie Barrett answers a question discussed in her formation class, “What does the Franciscan value of “minority” mean to my life and relationships?”

Throughout our formation thus far, the value of “minority” in Franciscan spirituality has particularly affected me.

During our sessions instructed by Fransican religious, I have learned that “minority” in the life of Saint Francis modeled a “downward direction, movement, tendency.”

This model reminds me of the call to “downward mobility” that I heard from the writings and homilies of the late Jesuit priest, Dean Brackley, SJ. While studying abroad in the Casa de la Solidaridad program in El Salvador in Spring 2011, I had the privilege of attending masses offered by Dean at the University of Central America. From his words and his life, I learned about the call to walk with and draw closer to those on the margins.

Here in DC, I have been able to learn about this call in the life of Saint Francis. I have learned from the friars here that in striving to live the call to “downward mobility,” Franciscan spirituality calls the followers of Francis to poverty as an “external expression of minority” and humility as the “internal expression of it.”

They have taught me that these expressions of minority invite us to align ourselves with those who are marginalized. Striving to live in external poverty and internal humility invites us to view the world from the perspective of the vulnerable.

This leads me to consider, what are the implications of this posture of “minority” in my own life?

How can that posture affect my analysis of current events and policies that not only touch my life, but the lives of those who live on the margins of our society?

The value of “minority,” also challenged the followers of Francis to live “without power over others.” They were taught to resist positions of power over others and instead choose to be “subject to all.”

As a citizen of the (so-called) most powerful nation on this planet, what does it mean for me to live my life as a “subject to all,” to be available to all?

Not to wither in weakness, but to discover strength in shared power.

What does this mean in terms of the relationships that I will form in Bolivia as a lay missioner?

What does this mean in terms of the relationships I form within my community today?

Learning from the life of Francis, who lived as a “subject to all,” I am challenged to practice ways of relating that are rooted in mutuality, in a shared care for one another. And in the words of Dean Brackley, I am reminded that this quest of “downward mobility” takes courage, yet in mutuality, in solidarity we are invited to listen and receive that strength from 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.