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MINISTER’S LETTER

Dear friends,

I was recently asked, as the Provincial, to write a few words setting out my thoughts about mission which I would
like to share with you.  I was writing on behalf of the brothers as you will see from the text, but I believe it is as relevant to our First Order Sisters too.  One of the greatest gifts we have to offer the Church, and beyond, is the gift of our corporate life in SSF, into which God has called us, a common life which nurtures and shapes each one of us.  Our mission is to be a community which mirrors the glory of God.  Our houses are to be places to which people can come and discover more about this God who is at the heart of our own vocation.  Our mission is to make our houses places of hospitality, prayer, healing, acceptance, love, hope, inspiration and encouragement, capable of transforming individuals who come into contact with us. The corporate life, founded on prayer – which is a missionary activity itself – is the foundation from which Franciscan mission springs.

SSF, of course, is made up of a complex mix of individuals with differing talents, temperaments and characteristics!  We work in an amazing variety of ministries and locations, thanks be to God. We are men on a mission – and the world is our cloister.  As Lesser Brothers we have a special love and concern for the poor, the isolated, the marginalised, those whose hearts, minds and spirits are broken. We have to seek out and serve the modern leper.  But mission is not just about what ‘we do’ but as we reach out to others in their needs, so we meet the Christ who comes to us under many guises and hopefully mission ‘is done to us’ and that we ourselves are converted and transformed! We have much to give – and much to learn.

Our mission is to make Our Lord Jesus Christ known and loved everywhere.  We don’t have to move very far, or even from the very spot on which we stand, in order to do this.  Wherever we are, we are, in the words of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, ‘to give the world Jesus: because he is so beautiful.’  Numerically we are overstretched in the province, but I hope that this would not prevent us from rising to new challenges that may occur from interpreting the signs of the times and discerning the needs of the modern day lepers.

‘As followers of Jesus in the way of Francis, we hope, in prayer and service, to find God in each other and in all whom we meet; to hold all things in common and, as lesser brothers, to live as simply as possible; to share in the mission of Jesus to proclaim the good news of God’s love; and to be a means of reconciliation, striving for peace and justice for all creation.’

God help us,

Benedict SSF