Lenten Series: The Prophet Jeremiah

The Prophet Jeremiah

The Prophet Jeremiah by Michaelangelo (public domain, Wikicommons)

Christians throughout history have defined the word “prophet” in biblical terms as those who have been chosen by God and gifted by the Holy Spirit to share God’s message with the world.

To hear how people today understand the word “prophet,” Oldenburg Franciscan Center manager Angela Nevitt (Roesler) recently asked a multicultural audience on Facebook what comes to mind when people hear the word.  The first response that came in was, “Hope. [Prophets] are human, too.  They sin and doubt, too.  Yet, they were chosen and filled with Wisdom.  So Hope… The word gives me hope.”

Other responders provided names of prophets, including Kahlil Gibran and Thomas Merton, and still others defined what they understand prophets to be, including: teachers, oracles, messengers of God.

Scripture lover and educator, Lois Jansen of Indianapolis replied that a prophet is “one who listens to the times, hears the heartbeat of God in the ordinary, and speaks of God’s tenderness and justice.”

Beginning on Thursday, February 21st at Oldenburg Franciscan Center, Sister Barbara Leonhard, OSF will be facilitating a four week series on the Prophet Jeremiah and the role of prophets in our world today.

Sister Barbara explains, “Biblical prophets had two fundamental roles.  They were truth tellers, calling people to wake up to their responsibilities, to whom they were called to be.  They were also people who offered hope in times of great conflict and disillusionment.”

In this OFC series, Sister Barbara will use the Prophet Jeremiah as an example to encourage participants to look anew at the dual role of a prophet.

Sister Barbara explains, “Exploring the nature of the critical time in which Jeremiah lived invites us to face the questions and express the honest prayers that might come from our own experiences of loss.  One cannot read Jeremiah without also being mindful of the violence, loss and suffering that surround us on a global level.”

Topics for each week include:

February 21st: The role of a prophet: the difficulty of being open to the prophetic message.

February 27th: Jeremiah: a prophet in a time of crisis.

March 7th:  Jeremiah: a prophet who gives expression to the shock and grief that accompany great loss.

March 14th:  Jeremiah: a prophet who expresses hope in the midst of crisis.

When we begin to understand ‘being a prophet’ in terms of being truth tellers and advocates for social responsibility, it can help us to identify our own unique opportunities for prophetic living – particularly when it comes to addressing issues in local healthcare, education, community development, and simply being a good neighbor.

Individuals of all faiths and professions are invited to attend this series.  Community & business leaders are encouraged to participate!  For additional information, please contact Angela Nevitt Roesler at aroesler@oldenburgosf.com, 513-543-5368, or visit the OFC website: http://www.oldenburgfranciscancenter.org.  RSVPs may be directed to Annette at center@oldenburgosf.com or 812-933-6437.

The Tolling Bell, by Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

More frequently than usual, the bell in our tower will begin tolling. We all know what that means. A tolling bell means someone has died, or occasionally, help is needed.

We toll the bell each time an execution takes place no matter where it is happening or to whom.

Why would a small town like Oldenburg Indiana, population just under 700 people, toll the bell for a convicted criminal in Texas, for example? There is most likely not one person in Oldenburg who knows the individual, or the crime committed. All they know is that there is a person whose life is being ended.

Prayers for the salvation of that person’s soul are sent heavenward when the bell tolls. That also includes prayers for the end to the death penalty.

Every person is entitled to have someone praying for him or her, especially at the time of death. The bell gives us the chance to know at a specific moment, the time some person’s life is being ended.

In classrooms, we taught children to pray every time they hear an emergency vehicle, fire truck, ambulance, police car. Someone needs help. To pray that the help will arrive in time and alleviate the situation seems to me to be one of the great acts of charity. It takes little time, costs nothing, and connects you to a brother or sister in need. Who knows, next time it may be you! If so, I will be praying for help to arrive in time.

Peace and Prayers,

Sharonlu OSF
Oldenburg Franciscan Center
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg

Peace & Good Questions for YOU!

“And each one should confidently make known his/her need to the other.”
~ St. Francis & St. Clare

Won’t you take a quick minute to help guide us in the way of your needs and interests?

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Peace, Joy, and Everything Good to you this day!

National Migration Week – A Reflection from Sr. Noella Poinsette

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As I was reflecting on of National Migration Week (January 8-14), I began to recall photos and memories from a trip to Latin America years ago. I fell in love with the people there in a very short time.

In the slideshow above, you see photographs from the first of a few trips I made to Mexico and Central America, and they were all experiences of openness and being welcomed into the lives of people who chose not to be strangers. These were experiences of profound generosity in the midst of their deep material poverty – but never a poverty of spirit. In fact, I have always said that our trip to Nicaragua was like walking into the Acts of the Apostles where all who came to the table were fed in body as well as spirit.

Once working at a small refugee camp on the Mexican/US border I met a woman named Teodora (Godbearer) who had walked 800 miles from El Salvador (the Savior). She was 8 months pregnant by the time she reached the camp. Along the long, arduous walk she was accompanied by her friend, Santos Santos (Holy Holy). Teodora and Santos faced all the hardships along the way because Teodora told me that she “wanted her child to be born in the light” rather than the darkness of  innocents being killed in the land of the Savior.  In some ways this is a contemporary Christmas story. And the photo of the woman (a woman in Nicaragua) with child and a cross behind them I have often used as a Christmas card.

One time while working at a border station with No Mas Muertes (No More Deaths) giving out water and bandaging bruised and bleeding feet, a young man asked me why I was doing this. Basically, it was simple – we are sisters and brothers.

My prayer for our country in this National Migration Week is that we will re-member ourselves as part of one family, that we will listen to the cries of the poor, that we will take action on behalf of comprehensive immigration reform.

This is my hope as a Franciscan and a woman of the Gospel.

Sr. Noella Poinsette

Sr. Noella Poinsette

Sr. Noella Poinsette, OSF is a music teacher and parish liturgical musician who devotes many of her ‘outside-working’ hours to social justice ministries.  She is a native of Indianapolis, IN, from a family of six.  When Sr. Noella told her father (at the age of 10) that she wanted to be a nun, he encouraged her with the comment that both he and her mother served other people and loved it.  (He was a city fireman and she was a nurse).  Sr. Noella has been an Oldenburg Franciscan for 46 years, and she still carries with her the work ethic, encouragement, and passion for social justice she learned from her parents.  She has volunteered with many organizations, including Common Ground after Katrina in New Orleans and served in ministry at Pine Ridge Reservation, St. Bonaventure University, and as Director of Covington, KY’s Refugee Program, among others.

The US Catholic Bishops’ theme for National Migration Week 2012 (Jan 8-14) is Welcoming Christ the Migrant.  Download materials at their website, including an information booklet and prayer card.

You can also visit Justice for Immigrants to send an e-postcard to the President and Congress asking that they continue to support comprehensive immigration reform.

Do you have any stories from working with migrants in the US or abroad?  Leave us a comment below and share your experience with others!  What are your hopes, prayers, and actions in support of justice for immigrants and Welcoming Christ the Migrant?