Sept. 16, 2015 -- Regional Minister Al Picogna, OFS, donned an apron and ball cap, turned to the audience and said:
“We are your servants.”
That’s how he set the stage for his State of the Region address at the Regional Chapter held Sept. 11-13 at the Comfort Inn & Suites on Buckley Road in Syracuse.
His portrayal of servant leadership came after he had welcomed minsters, delegates and guests, and introduced the national visitors, National Councilor Mary Bittner, OFS, and National Spiritual Assistant Matthias Wesnofske, OFM Cap.
The visitors opened the chapter with prayer and words on the significance and spiritual quality of a visitation.
Friar Matthias described what he looks for: “Do I see a spirit of joy, peace, love for one another…the Franciscan Spirit?”
Mary described the visit as “a means to promote fidelity to the Franciscan charism.”
The Chapter segued into a formation session on part of the Rule, with the discussion zeroing in on seeing Christ in others.
Formation Director Layna Maher put on music to spur reflection, and the words of the song spun the idea of seeing Christ in an opposite direction – “let them all see You in me… let them hear You when I speak.”
In his State of the Region talk, Al cited a few statistics about the region:
- 24 established fraternities.
- 423 active or active excused members.
- 18 inquirers.
- 5 in orientation.
- “an astounding 41 candidates”.
- 12 members embracing Sister Death.
The region’s thrust for the coming year, he said, is to encourage fraternities “to break out of the mold” – “to try new things” -- “to look at ways to make the fraternity come alive.”
In other words, “be innovative… Don’t always do the same thing… Do not be afraid to try something new and creative and innovative.”
Regional Treasurer James Fagan proposed a 2016 operating budget of $30,804, which was approved.
The Regional Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) Award went to Holy Family Vocational Orphanage Foundation in Binghamton, which supports an orphanage and school of the same name run by the Little Sisters of St. Francis in Uganda. St. Bernardine of Siena Fraternity Minister Mike Dwyer, OFS, who nominated the foundation, accepted the award on behalf of the foundation, along with Sr. Caritas Barajingitwa, LSOSF, founder and director of the orphanage and school. Sister Caritas, who had been stationed in Binghamton for a while raising funds for her vision to help children orphaned by the AIDS epidemic, flew in from Uganda to attend the Regional Chapter. She also was to attend the National Chapter in October to receive the National JPIC Award.
Following the presentation, which included a $100 donation, ministers, delegates and observers contributed another $747 from their own pockets. A silent auction for a statue of St. Francis raked in another $200 for the orphanage – bringing the total contribution to $1047.
Sister Caritas, visibly moved, paused and then said: “The Lord is good, all the time. I don’t know what to say…To tell the truth, you are my heroes in this project.”