Companions in Franciscan Solidarity
Collaborating through continued exchange of ideas
Relationships rooted in the Franciscan Common Venture, which accomplished much over 20 years before ending in 2018 when the communities involved determined that they had completed what was theirs to do. But the connection between FSPA, Sisters of St. Francis and Tertiary Sisters of St. Francis remains strong.
“Sisters were going back and forth for two decades between the U.S. and Cameroon, and we developed some very important personal relationships,” explains Sister Eileen McKenzie. “There is just this really deep relationship between our congregations that is rooted in friendship, Franciscanism and the Gospel.”
Companions in Franciscan Solidarity, a global Franciscan sisterhood in which FSPA participates, fosters intercultural friendship in order to collaborate across borders with compassionate responses to the needs of the time. FSPA remains committed to partnering with Cameroonian TSSF, as well as those in Bolivia, Brixen, Rome and Hull. Together, our work includes:
-Exploring opportunities in formation with our Bolivian sisters
-Supporting mission development efforts with the Generalate in Rome
-Exploring collaboration with sisters in Hull and Brixen provinces
-Supporting the people of Cameroon
Celebrating our global sisterhood
As published by the Tertiary Sisters of St. Francis, "Our Companionship in Franciscan Solidarity is an initiative and a relationship that enables us to celebrate our global sisterhood, and share our stories and Franciscan heritage. It enables us to journey in solidarity, mutually embrace our vulnerability and empower one another through Zoom and onsite encounters. It also challenges us to continue building networks of relationships. Our CFS is as beneficial as it is enriching and life-giving. In an interview with the congregational leaders of the three congregations that constitute the membership of this Companionship on May 6, 2022, they shared their experience of journeying together in Franciscan Solidarity." Visit the TSSF website for this full story.
Pictured left to right: Sisters Eileen, Theodosia and Diana
A journey together, in crisis
In Cameroon, we journey together through crisis.Our work includes supporting refugee and internally displaced persons and supporting the resiliency of TSSF sisters and others in Cameroon through trauma workshops. “We found reports from our Cameroonian friends and international human rights observers deeply disturbing as we learn more about what is commonly called the Anglophone Crisis. Deteriorating conditions have resulted in death, torture, injury and human rights abuse of citizens. Basic services in these areas are compromised or nonexistent, including education, communication and health care. Our goal is peace for Kumbo. Peace for Cameroon.” FSPA and La Crosse Friends of Cameroon hosted a town hall to educate others on the situation and move them to action. During the town hall, guests experienced this sister city mayor-to-mayor connection.
We also invite everyone to join us in prayer for Cameroon.
Franciscan Common Venture
The year 1998 welcomed the initiation of a Common Venture among four Franciscan congregations: Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, La Crosse, Wisconsin; Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist, Meriden, Connecticut; and the Tertiary Sisters of St. Francis, Cameroon, West Africa.
In February 2018, FSPA and the three other communities comprising the Franciscan Common Venture gathered in Assisi, Italy, to celebrate their 20th anniversary and to envision a way forward.
Themes of gratitude, empowerment, and transformation were woven into the event at the Assisi meeting, the place of origin where in 1998 the congregations found themselves being called into a mutual relationship. A structured relationship has guided the Common Venture through the years. The group now proposed a new way of collaborating through a continuing exchange of ideas, insights, experiences and liberal consultation with one another. Recognizing that the fruits of the relationship can never be forgotten nor exhausted, the sisters decided to conclude the formal aspects of their common mission and live into the future by “setting their sails to the ever-blowing winds of God’s grace,” as articulated by Sister Maria Theresia Oberwalder, TSSF general superior.
As of July 1, 2018, the structured features of the Franciscan Common Venture ended. A fund developed over the years for the education of the sisters from Cameroon is now held by the FSPA Development Office in La Crosse.