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February 03, 2010
St. Clare of Assisi
Faith Formation Update continues to offer free monthly encouragement and direction for catechetical ministry within the classroom and beyond. I’m Jeanne Hunt. In each issue I offer a brief starter and my “ Every Family” column. My co-worker and fellow religious educator Joan McKamey offers media resources and ideas in her “ Seen and Heard” column. Our co-worker Angela Glassmeyer suggests other faith formation resources for adults in her column, “Sowing Sampler.”

Every new generation needs models of faith to guide and inspire them. The stories of faith of those recognized by the Church as saints reaffirm who we are and what we believe. There is no more tender or graced-filled story than that of St. Clare of Assisi. She has been an inspiration and guide to many for 800 years and is the focus of this month’s update.
The Franciscan Way

If you were ever taught by Franciscan sisters, worshipped in a Franciscan parish or listened to a friar preach, you can appreciate all the fuss about St. Clare of Assisi. Along with St. Francis, she began a legacy of spiritual energy the Church calls “Franciscan.” This year we celebrate 800 years of Clare's Franciscan way of following Christ—a way of life that thousands have embraced through the centuries.
Whether we’re teaching in the classroom or the home, Clare’s message has much to say to those seeking growth in faith. Sharing her story of faith and the spirit it invokes can be an inspiring impetus for faith formation. Clare’s devotion to the Eucharist, her gutsy conversion, her passion for simplicity and poverty bring clarity to our own faith journeys. As catechists, we can visit this heroine of faith and bring her to life once again as we share her story of discipleship with those we teach.

Many people wonder about the differences between the Church’s great spiritual traditions. The Dominicans are our preachers; the Carmelites bring devotion; the Jesuits are scholars and missionaries; and the Franciscans embrace poverty and love for creation. As St. Clare turns the corner of her 800th year, allow her the pleasure of your company both in the classroom and in your prayer. She remains willing and able to lead us more deeply into the mystery of God in our midst.

Online Catalog
Connecting With St. Clare

While I encourage you to get to know St. Clare, creating that connection means a little research on your part. The Church encourages us to teach the stories of the saints in a balanced and informed way. The objective of connecting is to reinforce the way of Catholic faith through the examples of ones who lived discipleship well.

Creo en Dios!” a blog for Catholics, recently reviewed Saint of the Day: Lives, Lessons and Feasts, Revised Sixth Edition by Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M. The blogger wrote: “I think this is the sort of book worth having. I think the saints have a lot to teach us and [I] fear that they occupy too small a place in the lives of most Catholics. The biographies, comments and quotes in this book offer a good start for developing a relationship [with] some of those who have come before us.”

As you add the saints to your lesson plans, this handy book will make the task easier as well as help build up faith for catechists, parents and students.

Online Catalog
Walking With St. Clare

In May 2002 I participated in a pilgrimage to Assisi and Rome. The purpose of this trip was to learn more about the spiritualities of Sts. Francis and Clare. Through visiting some of the places that had been important in their lives, I formed a stronger connection with each of them. Our pilgrim guides explained the significance of the places we visited and led us in liturgies and rituals to help tie our personal spiritualities with those of Francis and Clare. It was two weeks of grace—an experience I committed to making a part of myself, not simply something I once did.
Perhaps you’ve visited these holy sites yourself or long to do so. Maybe the expense, other commitments or the rigors of climbing the steep streets in the Italian mountainside town of Assisi make this unrealistic. I invite you to share in the Franciscan pilgrimage experience as an “armchair pilgrim” by viewing Assisi Pilgrimage: Walking in Faith With Francis and Clare. I’ve selected a clip about St. Clare (RealMedia | Windows Media) to share with you.
Share this program with small groups in your parish. Invite them to view it in segments as outlined in the leader’s guide. Prepare reflection/discussion questions that relate to the lives of small-group participants. Encourage catechists and Catholic school teachers to view it so that they can better share about the lives and spiritualities of Sts. Francis and Clare. Share a segment with RCIA participants when you talk about saints. Bring a copy along when you visit the homebound. Make it available in your parish lending library.
“Saints are people the Light shines through.” Bring the figures captured in stained glass to life for yourself and your parishioners. You’ll find that Francis and Clare are complementary guides for gospel living.

Franciscan Radio
More Franciscan Resources

Serra: American Founding Father – NEW!
by Roy Gasnick, O.F.M., and Julien Grycan
Learn about Blessed Junipero Serra with this colorful, graphic presentation of his life, his Franciscan vocation and the many missions he founded in California, after which many cities—such as San Francisco, San Diego and Santa Clara—are named. Great for teens and young readers. 
Franciscan Library – Presenting the BEST of the Franciscan tradition!

Celebrate 800 years of Franciscan tradition, thought and practice by visiting the St. Anthony Messenger Press online Franciscan Library. This collection of books, audio books and DVDs captures the spirit and love of St. Francis and his followers. From poetry to biography, inspirational talks to prayers, explore his legacy as it is lived out today. Deepen your spiritual journey in the footsteps of Sts. Francis, Clare, Anthony and others.

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