Sunday, May 30, 2010

Celebrating Those in the Trenches

Eight hundred years ago Francis Bernardone, better known as St. Francis of Assisi, heard God’s call to live the Gospel in a radical way. He came to see all of creation in a kind of universal kinship. Francis unwittingly started a movement. Men flocked to him and became his first brothers in a new order of mendicant friars. Clare of Assisi fled to him and started the contemplative Poor Clares. Single and married people sought him out and started the secular Third Order.

They all became known as Franciscans.

Some 150 years ago the Franciscans came to Utica. Friars took over what today is St. Joseph-St. Patrick Parish and almost immediately helped to found the area’s first group of Third Order Seculars – St. Joseph Fraternity.

Today, the Third Order Seculars are the world-wide Secular Franciscan Order, with a growing focus on serving poor and marginalized people.

And the local Secular Franciscans decided to mark their 150 years in Utica by singling out others to honor; namely, Mother Marianne’s West Side Kitchen and the Rescue Mission of Utica.

“The Fraternity Council voted to establish the Mother Marianne Cope Award to honor those serving the poor and marginalized,” noted Fraternity Minister Katie Koscinski, SFO.

The award, named after the Franciscan sister who grew up in West Utica and went on to serve the lepers of Hawaii’s Molokai, will be presented during a 150th anniversary banquet, which starts at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, June 6, at the Radisson Hotel-Utica Centre.

Founded in 1891 by the First Presbyterian Church of Utica, the Rescue Mission today serves the poor, the homeless, the mentally ill, and those struggling to recover from alcohol and substance abuse. Established in March 2008 at St. Joseph-St. Patrick Parish, West Side Kitchen provides lunch six days a week to the working poor, the jobless and the homeless.

Said Katie: “What better way to celebrate our century-and-a-half as a Franciscan fraternity than to recognize others who are working in the trenches – exactly where St. Francis, Mother Marianne and Jesus would be.”