background image
Franciscan Minute
By Fr. Francis Di Spigno, O.F.M.
recently had a won-
derful experience at
Mt. Irenaeus. Eight-
een members of the in-
coming Class of 2021
joined Amanda Nau-
joks, associate director
of University Ministries;
Jeff Sved, director of
the Franciscan Center for Social Concern;
the friars at Mt. Irenaeus -- Fr. Lou Mc-
Cormick, O.F.M., Br. Kevin Kriso, O.F.M.,
Br. Joe Kotula, O.F.M., Fr. Dan Riley, O.F.M.
-- and me, for a Mission and Min-
istries Day. These incoming first-year
students arrived the day before their
Orientation session to explore who,
what, and why we are a Catholic
Franciscan institution.
The weather was gorgeous. The
sunny blue sky was accented by those
white clouds that mark a great sum-
mer day. During our first session of in-
troductions, Fr. Dan referenced an
image of God that has captured my
imagination for a long time.
He said, "God is like a circle that
has no center and whose circumfer-
ence is everywhere." As we sat in our
circle in the grass beside the main
house, we imagined the God that has
no end, no beginning, and constantly
calls all of us into unity.
I have often used that quote at
wedding ceremonies when preparing
to bless the wedding rings just before
they are given away to their husband
or wife. It is my hope that the couple will
remember that image of God through
their rings.
They are in a covenant with each other
and that covenant "foreshadows the
covenant between God and the Church."
It is a bond that unites us, that holds us
fast, and that can never be broken.
God's love has no beginning or end for
us and we are called to live in that same
infinite circle.
I don't know about you, but for me,
that is an amazing invitation. We are
called to live within that circle of life that
we call God.
Unfortunately, some of today's media
bombard us with messages of how much
we are not united. By now it has become
trite to say, but I want Walter Cronkite
back. Is there a way that we can become
informed of what is going on in our world
without "spin" or political agenda?
I don't know. Quite honestly, I'm not old
enough to know whether or not Walter
Cronkite had an agenda. I think it is safe
to say that in reality, we all have agendas
-- or perhaps, better said, perspectives.
As part of our time at Mt. Irenaeus with
our first-year students, we celebrated
Mass in Holy Peace Chapel. As is common
at the Mountain, after the homily we are
all invited to share a reflection on the
readings or on what we heard. Someone
commented on how scary the world is
and how difficult it is to enter now be-
cause it has become so dangerous. There
were nods of agreement throughout the
chapel, and perhaps even some sighs.
Then, one of the elder members of the
community spoke. He recalled that when
he graduated college 50 years ago, his
classmates thought the world was dan-
gerous, too. "The world is always a dan-
gerous place," he said. He referenced the
Vietnam War, the fear of nuclear prolifera-
tion, and racial injustice. (The '60s were
an interesting time!) But then he re-
minded us that no matter what is going
on in the world, "As long as we do our
best and continue to remember that God
is with us, it's all going to work out."
We do need to do our best, that's for
sure, but we don't always remember that
God is with us. We forget that we are
called to be, not just in this world but of
the unending circle of God's infinite pres-
ence. We are in a covenantal relationship
with a God who will not forget us, for-
sake us, or abandon us.
The world is divided, but always has
been. The world doesn't always accept
our message, but it never did.
Part of the fabric of our Franciscan lives is
that we don't contribute to that division
but respond to it and bring love where
there is hatred, healing where there is in-
jury, faith where there is doubt, hope where
there is despair, light where there is dark-
ness, and joy where there is sadness.
I will tell you this, I met 18 wonderful
young men and women who not only call
themselves Bonnies but are ready to em-
brace our Franciscan call to be instruments
of peace.
The circle of life continues and God's
eternal embrace is ours for the taking.
(Di Spigno is executive director of Uni-
versity Ministries at St. Bonaventure.)
The circle that has no center and
whose circumference is everywhere
Br. Kevin Kriso, O.F.M., (left) is pictured with freshmen on the dock at Mt. Irenaeus.