During the Canonical Visitations with several of our friars living and serving in Italy, our Minister Provincial, the Very Reverend Fr. James McCurry, OFM Conv. visited with Friar Christopher Dudek, OFM Conv. who is in Rome in study at the Pontifical Theological Faculty of St. Bonaventure – International College Seraphicum. Friar James requested that Friar Chris prepare an article to share, regarding the pastoral ministry of street evangelization that he has participated over his past several years of study.
Since October 2015, we have posted many “Adventures with Friar Chris.”
As he is nearing the end of his studies in Rome,
he would like to share this article with you.
I was asked to write about and wanted to share an aspect of my experience at the Seraphicum in Rome that has been very unique and also personally very fruitful and special for me. About 5 years ago, a group of friars at the Seraphicum heard the call from Pope Francis for Christians, especially those in Religious Life, to ‘go and wake up the world’. From this was born the idea by some of the friars at the Seraphicum to go out into the streets of Rome to encounter the people and bring them the joy of the Gospel. They named this the ‘Sveglia Francescana’ which in Italian means more or less the Franciscan Wake Up.
Over the course of these past 5 years, the friars have gone out 4 or 5 times a year to different piazzas in Rome. During the evangelization, which normally lasts 1.5 hours, the friars sing, dance, talk and pray with the people, offer pray cards with the prayer of St. Francis and the priests hear confessions. If there is a church available, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is available. This past year, we have gone to Piazza Navona, Via del Corso, and on the birthday of Pope Francis we were in St. Peter’s Square. Twice a year, the friars go to other parts of Italy on a weekend mission, normally to friaries and parishes that have invited us. During the weekend, we have moments of evangelization in the piazza and in the churches and schools. This April after Easter we will travel to Puglia in southern Italy. In the past, the friars have traveled to Naples, Susa in northern Italy, Lanciano in Abruzzo, Gravina in Puglia and Calabria just to name a few. At least twice a year we also try to bring this Franciscan joy to the poor or marginalized. In the past, we have gone to one of the central jails in Rome, to places where there are many homeless persons near the Termini station, to the ‘House of David’ which cares for children with serious illnesses and disabilities, and to hospitals in Rome.
The source of our pastoral work is obviously in prayer. We have regular moments of prayer as a group to pray for the intentions of all those we meet and for our ministry. Another element of the Sveglia Francescana is our online ministry. We have a YouTube, Facebook and Instagram page. Each Sunday a friar prepares a ‘fedebook’ (in English faithbook) which offers a reflection on the Gospel. We have over 6,500 followers and many people each week send us prayer requests and faith questions via Facebook.
Currently, there are about 12 friars as a part of this group with other friars helping when they can. These friars come from Romania, Croatia, Venezuela, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Zambia, Italy and Poland, just to name a few. I have had the privilege to be the coordinator of this group for the past 2 years. While teaching me a very different and unique mode of evangelization and pastoral ministry, my favorite part has been the opportunity to work with so many very young friars from around the world who share a common joy in the Franciscan life and a desire to share the good news of Jesus with others. For me it has been a testimony and a call to ‘wake up the world’ with that same joy as St. Francis lived.
Friar Chris’ experiences, while unique to his own discernment and vocational journey, exhibit the joy found in his life as a Franciscan Friar Conventual. His next ” big adventure” will take place back in the USA, as he is Ordained to the Diaconate, on Saturday, July 7, 2018, at his home parish – our pastoral ministry at the Basilica of St. Stanislaus, Bishop & Martyr, in Chicopee, MA. Please keep Friar Chris, the work the friars of Sveglia Francescana, and all of the friars in formation for our province, in your continued prayers.
Please also pray for an increase in vocations to our Order.
If you feel called to learn more about life as a friar during your discernment and vocational journey, please contact our Province Vocation Director, Fr. Russell Governale, OFM Conv.