“Why the Children?”
Sometimes we stay away from discussing certain issues because they are politically charged and because of that, we become concerned with the ramifications that such discussions will have on us. Yet, there are issues in our society and in our world that need to be addressed and discussed no matter the consequences. It’s never easy.
We, as a people in our country, have a situation at our southern border that rips apart the human heart, especially when it comes to the children. The news give us information about the inhumane policies that are creating a cruel environment for these children. As people of good will and as believers in a God of compassion, as revealed to us by Jesus, we need to do everything possible to see the human faces of these children and recognize the situation at the border from a humane point of view. It cannot be just an “issue.”
When it comes to the situation at our southern border there is enough blame to go around the planet an infinite number of times. Where will such blame game get us? What will it accomplish? What good will it bring to us and to humanity at large?
Why the children?
Do we honestly believe that we have the right to treat children in such a way? What have we become? What do such policies say about who we are?
As friars minor, our call to “minority”, or being “lesser”, brings us to a new way of life through a spirit of prayer and devotion, evangelization, and fraternal life. Our JPIC Summer immersion program seeks to reflect on these Franciscan values and Catholic social teaching in our society now.
Our Lady of the Angels Province friar and Associate Chaplain for the CUA Faculty & Staff, Fr. Louis Maximilian Smith, OFM Conv. alongside the participants on the Rural Appalachian Service Immersion, in West Virginia.
Our province contributes to the Service & Justice Immersion Program at the Catholic University of America (CUA). Our donation helps keep the cost down; making the program accessible to students from more diverse economic backgrounds. This year, CUA students were able to engage in immersion trips outside the USA to Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, as well as trips to the Appalachian region of West Virginia, Philadelphia-PA, El Paso-TX, and Apopka-FL. The program has expanded through the years to facilitate more experiences, opening the participants’ eyes to different realities, struggles and gifts of communities far from their home. These experiences fall right in line with our Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) charism; inspiring the participants to get more involved in social justice.
From volunteering with children to farming with migrants, the students were able to experience different cultures and learn ways to live in solidarity with the poor and marginalized. The students who traveled to rural West Virginia learned about the environmental impacts of mining, and also worked with various social services. Some students lived with migrant families in Florida, while working on the farms with them, and learning more about the challenges immigrants face in the United States. A group of students also went to Jamaica and worked with the Missionaries of the Poor and the Passionist volunteers.
Since returning to campus, many of the student participants have begun volunteering in the Washington, DC area. In just a few weeks, another set of students will travel to Belize and El Salvador for Summer Immersion Trips. Your support of our friars helps our continued support of programs affiliated with our varied ministries. We currently have four friars serving the students, faculty, staff and visitors of The Catholic University of America through the Campus Ministry Office: Fr. Jude DeAngelo, OFM Conv. (University Chaplain & Director of Campus Ministry), Fr. Andrzej Brzeziński, OFM Conv. (Associate Chaplain for Faith Development), Fr. Louis Maximilian Smith, OFM Conv. (Associate Chaplain for University Faculty and Staff),
and Fr. Albert Puliyadan, OFM Conv. (Associate Chaplain for Liturgy and Worship). Our province also has several student friars in study at CUA, and together with our friars in ministry, they help to enhance CUA’s Campus Ministry as a place where friends soon become family, expanding the capacity to serve and love others, while finding the freedom to take a deeper dive into what it means to live a life of faith. Learn more about Campus Ministry at CUA
In the Franciscan Action Network (FAN) Weekly Newsletter Published April 1, 2019: “Doing Something New”, the FAN Board of Directors announced Our Lady of the Angels Province friar – Fr. Michael Lasky, OFM Conv. as their newly elected president.
Born in Baltimore, MD, Friar Michael professed his Solemn Vows in our Order in 1998, and was Ordained to the Priesthood in 2000. He began his ministry in the province as a teacher in 1997, at St. Francis High School (Athol Springs, NY), took a break from ministry to earn his M.Div. and get ordained, and returned to the high school to teach from 2000-2005. He spent the next five years as Campus Minister, at Western Connecticut State University, in Danbury, CT. In 2010, he began a two year assignment in NY as Regional Director for the Americas, of Franciscans International, working at the United Nations to address human rights injustices that impact on the poor and most vulnerable. After spending time in Spanish Studies, in Bogota, Columbia, he served as the Parish Administrator and Campus Minister of Newman Student Center Parish, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (NC). Upon moving to our friary in Washington DC, he joined the FAN Board of Directors in 2014 and had served them as vice president for the last four years.
Friar Michael currently resides in our St. Joseph Cupertino Friary, adjacent to our Shrine of St. Anthony (Ellicott City, MD), where he also provides sacramental assistance when he is able. He serves as chairman of the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission (JPIC) of our Province, using his gift for preaching, flair for presentation and generosity of spirit to reach out to everyone he meets. From an office in the Shrine, he also works as the Director of Little Portion Farm, on the property of the Shrine. His love for justice for all has no limitation; no matter what faith or cultural background ideals are held by those around him.