Remembering St. Francis

  • October 10, 2008
{mosimage}TORONTO - Franciscans have been remembering the death of St. Francis for nearly 900 years, and it’s still a family affair, said Franciscans of all kinds who gathered at St. Bonaventure Church in Toronto for the Transitus Oct. 3.

Celebrated by Franciscans around the world on the eve of the Feast of St. Francis, the Transitus liturgy re-enacts and remembers St. Francis’ passing from this world.
“We all get together as Franciscans,” explained Third Order Franciscan Stephen Huh.

Franciscans remember St. Francis’ death because they think of the saint as their brother, and being a Franciscan is all about brotherly love, said Huh.

Huh is one of 120 members of the St. John Vianney Fraternity of Third Order Franciscans based in the Korean St. Andrew Kim parish.

Remembering how St. Francis faced what he called “Sister Death” is a key to maintaining a Franciscan frame of mind, according to St. Philip Neri pastor Fr. John Juhl, a Capuchin Franciscan.

“It (death) is a moment in our faith. It’s a part of reality,” Juhl said. “None of us can live forever, so we might as well celebrate it.”

For Nigerian Capuchin Father Adolphus Nwandu, in Toronto studying for a PhD in theology, it was inspiring to see so many Franciscans gathered together for the Transitus. In Nigeria, where Franciscans have a relatively short history, individual Franciscan communities tend to celebrate the death of St. Francis on their own. The Toronto gathering of Franciscan communities demonstrates how Franciscans are united despite differences of culture and language.

“It is a sign of that one unity of family,” he said.

Celebrating St. Francis’ death is all about Christian hope, said Nwandu.

“It is a celebration in our own joyful hope of our passing into new life,” he said.

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