For the year of Consecrated Life, Pope Francis has called on ‘each charismatic family to reflect on its origins and history, in order to thank God who grants the Church a variety of gifts which embellish her and equip her for every good work.’ This is to include a ‘renewed and loving commitment to the intellectual life and dedication to study’ in order to witness more effectively to the people of our time their particular way of living the gospel.

This is exactly what a group of Poor Clare’s were ‘up to’ in June at a three-day seminar conducted by Fr. Francis Cotter OFM on some of the fundamental elements of the Franciscan charism.

It was a hugely enriching experience for all of the participants. With the intuitions of St. Francis and St. Clare as his starting point, Father Francis presented fundamental elements of the Franciscan charism in a fresh and dynamic way and fleshed them out. Topics covered, among others, included, the humanity of Christ and his absolute primacy, the reality of God as a loving Father, the Franciscan familial understanding of Creation, perspectives on the Trinity, and weaving all of these together, Cosmic Christology. The seminar also covered the development of the Franciscan School of Theology at the University of Paris, with particular reference to St. Bonaventure and Blessed John Duns Scotus.

All in all, the Sisters left the Augustinian-run retreat centre, Orlagh (located on the outskirts of Dublin) with a new enthusiasm and resolve to appreciate more fully and delve more deeply into their Franciscan spiritual and intellectual inheritance. It wasn’t just about lofty ideas and theological thoughts however. As one writer put it, ‘Spirituality is theology walking. It is what we do because of what we say we believe.’ So the final day of the seminar was very much about walking the walk and translating Franciscan theology into the realities of life today.

It was a very enjoyable experience into the bargain. No doubt, the various monasteries will benefit greatly from what the individual Sisters received and brought back from this course.