Pope Francis: A vision of humble service to the poor.
At the Franciscan Center, we were delighted to hear that our new Pope chose the name Francis in honor of our patron, St. Francis of Assisi. Pope Francis believes in defending the poor and disadvantaged, saying, “[The church’s mission] means respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live. It means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about.”
The Franciscan Center strives to show loving concern for each and every person who comes through our doors each day. Sr. Joanne Schatzlein and Sr. Ellen Carr, both Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi, share their thoughts on the newly elected Pope and what it means for our ministry.
At first, Sr. Joanne could not believe that the newly elected Pope chose the name Francis. Knowing that St. Francis Xavier is a very great saint among the Jesuits, she wondered if that was who he initially wanted to recognize.
“But as his own personal lifestyle became known,” Sr. Joanne explains, “our St. Francis made so much more sense, and what an honor!”
Sr. Ellen explained that St. Francis of Assisi was a man of great passion and compassion, embracing those on the margins of society such as people who are economically disadvantaged or people with a disability.
“By naming himself Francis, I believe that Pope Francis has committed himself to focusing the attention, the resources and the good will of the Church on the needs of the poor, on climate change, on the preservation of creation, on justice and reconciliation,” Sr. Ellen said.
Sr. Joanne agreed that the vision for Pope Francis has for the Church moving forward is a beautiful affirmation of the Franciscan ministry, pointing out that we have a terrific opportunity to focus on not only the Franciscan values that characterize our mission, but also on how Catholic Social Teaching has always addressed the needs of the undeserved and the poor.
Sr. Ellen hopes that all people will not only listen to Pope Francis, but will also be touched by his example and moved to follow in his way. Particularly in Baltimore, she hopes that residents will see the Franciscan Center as a place where the values of St. Francis are lived day after day.
“The Franciscan Center is a place of mutual conversion and transformation for all who are a part of this Franciscan community, where the distinction between the ‘helper’ and the ‘helped’ fades away – ‘for it is in giving that we receive,'” she said. “I hope that Pope Francis’ vision will create a longing in the hearts of many to be a vital part of such a place.”