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The Most Reverend Archbishop Philip Freier speaks about being a Franciscan Tertiary on ABC’s Religion Report (18th April 07). Philip Freier recently took up his appointment as Archbishop of Melbourne. Since then he has been keen to be ‘out and about’ in the public spaces of Melbourne; meeting people where they are at. In an interview with the Archbishop he was asked how much of this new initiative was related to his being a member of the Third Order of the Society of St Francis. Franciscan Spirituality is really… has inspired me to see something of a vision of Christianity that is passionately lived in the world (+ Freier). He goes on to speak about his concerns surrounding stem cell research.

It was interesting to hear him speak about how he sees a need for Christians to be present in the world, in the places where people are. I can very much relate to his passion. As anyone who knows me knows I believe that we rely too much on the assumption that the place for religious, deacons, and priests to be is in the bricks and mortar of the Church.

It is true that we need to be part of the established church commuities. However it is also true that our churches are no longer full and people sooner go to a sport game than attend a church service. Sundays and Churches no longer hold a significant place in society. And when people do enter our ‘walls’ we assume them to have been brought up with the same christian upbringing as we had, when a great deal of them have never seen inside a church, except perhaps for weddings, baptisms and funerals.

I have found that the more willing we are to enter the world of the ‘unchurched’ and preach without using words the more likely we are to have a hearing by those who have been lost or forgotten by the church, or have never been part of a Church community. I agree with + Freier when he intimates that it is very much a Franciscan trait to be out in the world meeting people where they are at and taking God’s love to them, rather than them waiting to come to us. There is a great need for the church to see the value and benefit of ‘mission’ deacons and priests who are not tied to the bricks and mortar but are out there preaching the gospel. I am reminded of the saying (I forget who its attributed to so if you know, let me know) you may be the only Gospel that someone will read today.

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9/5 - 11/5 Formation Intensive, SFC