Special to the Superior Catholic Herald
People, as they have throughout the history of the church, are searching for something more meaningful in their lives. We work hard, raise our families and find that, although they have meaning and are important, there comes a time when we need more.
Several years ago, I found that, although I had a job that helped people, and was active in my church and community, I felt an area on which I needed to work was my faith life. I wanted to develop a deeper faith and to be more involved in church. Then I met Veronica Willand.
I had noticed for some time that she always seemed happy with a deep inner joy I knew I lacked and wanted. We talked several times and she asked me if I would like to attend a meeting of Secular Franciscans with her. I had never heard of the Secular Franciscans so she explained that it was a fraternity of people who followed in the footsteps and the teachings of St. Francis of Assisi.
At first, I declined her invitation because of issues I was facing at work and in my life. I didn’t feel I had time or energy to devote to it. Then I decided to retire from my job so I could use that time to devote to my faith life. Once again Veronica asked me if I would care to attend a meeting. This time I agreed; what I found was a whole different world from any I had experienced.
At that first meeting I felt welcomed by the fraternity. I found a loving and caring environment where I was accepted for who I was and where I was in my faith journey. It wasn’t just Veronica; it was a whole community of people who were at peace and had great joy in their faith.
The members listened and understood my doubts and cares without questioning or challenging me. After that meeting I wanted to know more about Francis and the Secular Franciscans. I wanted to know how they had achieved the peace and joy that was so evident in each of them, and I wanted to be part of this special group.
We began with formation, studying the life and times of St. Francis, what he and St. Claire taught, and what it meant to live the Gospel life as a Secular Franciscan. The more I studied and learned, the more I wanted to know and understand the Franciscan way of life.
Over the next year, people began to comment that I had changed – even though I wasn’t aware of it. How I looked at life, my relationships with others, and my faith life became more positive, and I found that I had incorporated Francis’ teachings into my everyday life without being aware of it.
After nearly two years of formation, it came time to make the decision whether to make a lifelong commitment to the Franciscan way of life. From my formation training I understood that profession is an extension of the sacraments I had received earlier in life.
After careful reflection and prayer, I realized there was no question – I had already adopted the Gospel life and would profess to continue that for the rest of my life. My formal profession before the St. Elizabeth of Hungary Fraternity took place on May 3, 2015. My husband, family, and the entire fraternity joined me to witness my day of great joy.
Franciscans have always been missionaries and evangelizers. Soon, Veronica told Joan Henchel and me that she would like to start a fraternity in the northwest part of the Superior Diocese, and would like our help with it. It was a natural response to join her in reaching out to our parish community in Hayward and to other parishes in our diocese.
With the help of St. Joseph Parish we have begun the process of developing the new fraternity with a wonderful group of inquirers (those interested in learning more about the Secular Franciscan way of life) and we have begun their formation like I recently completed.
We are looking forward to welcoming interested Catholics from all over the area into a faith-filled, loving, caring life that follows in the footsteps of the little man of poverty, Francis, and the Gospels.
Editor’s note: Contact Willand, 715-469-9259 or , for information.