By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — Four lay people joined the Secular Franciscans on July 1 during a profession at St. Vincent Center.
Kent Ferris, a minister of the Pope St. John XXIII Fraternity, said Patrick and Roxanne Miner of Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport, Pat DeLuca of St. Ann Parish in Long Grove and Alicia Harker of St. Pius X Parish in Rock Island, Ill., took their initial profession. He noted it has been several years since anyone has taken a profession, but they have had a few transfers to the group.
“The local fraternity was established in 1964 and was originally connected with St. Anthony Parish here in Davenport. The fraternity moved to Trinity Hospital in Rock Island, Ill., for its monthly meetings when the Franciscan sisters operated the hospital.” He said Trinity, now UnityPoint, has honored this arrangement since that time to use their space.
“The rule and life of the Secular Franciscan is this: to observe the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by following the example of St. Francis of Assisi, who made Christ the inspiration and the center of his life with God and people. Christ, the gift of the Father’s love, is the way to him, the truth into which the Holy Spirit leads us, and the life which he has come to give abundantly. Secular Franciscans should devote themselves especially to careful reading of the Gospel, going from Gospel to life and life to the Gospel.”
Patrick Miner said at age 14 he left home and enrolled in a high school seminary. Nine years later and out of college, he responded to a vocation as a married person. “In those nine years, my spiritual formation was nurtured by the religious order I was then in. I am most grateful for that opportunity to develop a spirituality rooted in a specific community and one that permitted a truly authentic response to vocation. Community life is vitally important. And, it requires a community of others sharing similar values and aspirations.”
His wife, Roxanne, told Patrick about the Secular Franciscans. Together they inquired about the fraternity in 2014 and went through formation together. “It was challenging and enriching,” Patrick said.
“I had known about Third Orders since I taught a vocations class for over 25 years,” Roxanne Miner said. “But I did not know about the Secular Franciscans until I met Kent Ferris. I had invited him to speak to my classes about five years ago and he mentioned that he was a Secular Franciscan. A few months later I saw a notice about the Secular Franciscans in The Catholic Messenger and it gave Kent’s contact information.”
The couple met with Deacon Frank Agnoli, also a Secular Franciscan, in August 2014. “One of the first questions they asked was why I was interested in becoming a Secular Franciscan. I told them that I felt I had always been a Franciscan. The contemplative spirituality focusing on simplicity, humility, hospitality, concern for the poor and all of God’s creation that is inherent to Franciscan spirituality was something I have been trying to develop in my own spiritual journey,” Roxanne Miner said.
Pat DeLuca said that when he retired, “I was interested in something that would enrich my spiritual life. At the time I lived near Rockford, Ill. In an issue of the diocesan weekly newspaper, a centerfold article provided detailed information about the Secular Franciscan Order (SFO). There was a name and number to call and I called.”
He was interested in the daily individual and group liturgical prayers and the dedication to volunteering to help people in need. “I was most impressed with the utmost value they placed on all individuals and everything in the environment. My journey has been the most spiritually, mentally, emotionally and behaviorally changing experience I have ever had,” DeLuca said.
Harker learned about the order through the late Gene Desaunoy. “I have always been intrigued by St. Francis.” She appreciates the saint’s love of creation, which is often depicted in the statues and bird baths she sees in people’s yards. “I later learned that Gene wasn’t the only Franciscan I knew. I wasn’t aware that other people were Secular Franciscans.”
She felt God had been calling her to be a Secular Franciscan all her life. “My life has been a journey to live a Secular Franciscan way of life, which is to love God and your neighbor.”
The idea of living the Gospel in fraternity “is very Christ-like,” she said. “I observed that the fraternity members live a servant leadership style. I feel that God should always be our goal, and that it is very obtainable because God is the Father of creation and the whole universe. I strongly believe God is always with us.”
Roxanne Miner said the formation incorporated learning about St. Francis and St. Clare, the history of the Franciscan orders and the rules that govern Secular Franciscans. The discussions and formation materials by Deacon Agnoli “were energizing and insightful.”
“At the end of the first 12 months, I was ready to make my lifelong profession to live the life of a Secular Franciscan,” Patrick Miner said. “I am proud of my new vocation and look forward to living the Gospel life as a Secular Franciscan.”