"Brothers, let us begin to serve the Lord our God, for up till now we have done little."

These words recorded by St. Bonaventure in the Major Life, are attributed to Francis as he lay dying. Why am I bringing this up in an article about the Q? Precisely because that is what the Q is about - beginning (again) to hear and respond to our call to live the Gospel life in the footsteps of St. Francis.

For the last 20 years, the Quinquennials have been preparing us and calling us forward, to refound the SFO by exploring the original charism of our founders and, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, revisioning what that means in today's reality. We have been reminded that WE are the order now and we have the responsibility and authority to discern and implement that charism now.

This is the meaning of the Q of 2012. The Quinquennial speakers will provide history and perspective to help reawaken and focus the call of our vocation. Small group fraternities will meet to consider and share what their insights mean to a Secular Franciscan living today. Those insights and ideas will be taken to the National Council to further discern and consider how to make the message real. And everyone who attends will have the opportunity to hear the Holy Spirit's call to renew and claim the gift of our Franciscan call.

Every member of the SFO in the U.S. is called to participate in some way. Many are called to attend in person - certainly every regional minister or a member of each regional council, the national leadership, and local fraternities; if it is not possible that a member of every local fraternity attends, there is someone who can represent and report to a cluster of fraternities. Those who cannot attend in person can pray, prepare, and share what God is speaking to their hearts with the brothers and sisters. Let's make room for the Holy Spirit to move this National Fraternity past old habits and safe traditions and on into deeper waters of life-giving, meaningful and courageous Gospel Living! Claim the Gift!

    Consider and if possible discuss:
  1. What does being a member of the SFO add to your life?
  2. What phrases or articles of the Rule have spoken most strongly to you? How have they shaped your life?
  3. Reread the Rule. What other phrases or articles draw your attention now?

Practical matters

For those who will be attending in person there will be transportation costs and housing costs, as well as the registration fee. (Perhaps local and regional fraternities can contribute financially to help send someone.) Registration, which covers meals, materials and the other expenses for the program, is $325. If you can get your registration and fee in before June 1, 2012, the fee will be discounted to $275. (The registration form is found in the Spring 2012 issue of TAU-USA and on the NAFRA website at www.nafra-sfo.org/q2012.html).

Housing is not included in the registration fee. The principal location for the conferences and meals is Holiday Inn Northshore, with housing overflowing to Holiday Inn O'Hare. Make reservations directly with the hotel. Rooms are $87 single or double. Some rooms with 2 queen beds could hold up to 4 people willing to get close! If you need help to find a roommate, please contact Cyl Maljan BEFORE you make your hotel reservation. (See registration form for details - please read carefully). The hotel cannot assign roommates. Transportation to and from O'Hare airport and between the hotels will be provided by the hotel at no charge. Transport to/from Chicago Midway is on your own.