By Sister Nancy Linenkugel
Does the date of July 18-21, 1983 spur any memories?
It was 35 years ago this month when we gathered in the Evergreen Room for the “Roots, Wings, and Rainbows” celebration of our Sylvania Franciscan constitution being approved as of May 1983 and the TOR Rule being approved in 1982.
My notes tell me that Sister Christelle was the celebration leader and we heard her say, “We need to get excited about our new rule as the blueprint for living. We study the past to meet Francis who reflected the love of Christ like a prism—a rainbow.”
We heard Sister Patricia Simpson review how in 1319 all Franciscans were put under the direction of the First Order, but in 1324 it was realized that the Third Order had its own charism and should be separate.
We heard Sister Rosaria explain that the “New Rule Project” had international support, including much input from the USA. The resulting Brussels Draft was accepted and approved in 1982.
We heard Sister Mary Frances Reichenberger talk about the Volterra Letter (1209-1215) discovered in a Volterra, Italy, library. This letter captured the spirit of what Francis was explaining to Pope Innocent about the desired norm of his way of life. The original document had been lost.
We heard Sister Aloise outline how Francis’ life “took Christ at his word” and sealed his dependence on God. Francis was then in constant conversion.
We heard Sister Roberta Cusack share that the 1982 Rule was a conversion experience for all who participated because the Spirit of Francis courses through the writing and is the root of our Franciscan Charism.
Finally, we heard Sister Patrice exhort each of us to follow this newly approved rule, not to return to old ways which were less risky, and to believe that our Sylvania Franciscan gifts will always be needed by the Church. “Any institute that lives in the past will die,” she foretold.
Here we are, 35 years later, well-grounded in our Franciscan roots (especially thanks to our focused Charism Committee), rising on the wings of faithfulness to our rule, and creating rainbows as we, too, reflect the love of Christ like a prism. No living in the past for us.