Brother Charles De Foucauld

North American Jesus Caritas Communities
September 9th, 2012

Buffalo 2012 Assembly Letter

Dear Brothers and Sisters of the Lay Fraternity,

I’ve been wanting to give you a brief overview of 2 recent events in the life of our Fraternity: the recent North American Assembly held June 22 to June 24, 2012, hosted by the members of the Buffalo Fraternity and the International Assembly which occurs every 6 yrs and this year was held at Bonn, Germany, August 3 to August 13, 2012. Let me first describe the Buffalo gathering and then next time I will try to summarize the Bonn Assembly.

The North American Assembly took place at the cabin of Michele and Jim Winkelsas in Otto, NY which is about an hour south of Buffalo. Michele and Jim, together with the members of the Buffalo fraternity were our hosts for a wonderful weekend of sharing the spirituality of Brother Charles and Nazareth, as about 25 of us encountered Jesus, ourselves and one another during times of reflection, song, prayer, silence, listening, singing, walking, in short living Nazareth. The setting was beautiful, hills covered with trees, plenty of flora and fauna and trails for hiking. The weather was perfect, warm and sunny; comfortable at night. About 15 of us stayed at the cabin, another 5 camped outside “sleeping under the stars”, another 5 stayed at a nearby Microtel.

Little Sister Francisca of Jesus led us in reflection on the theme of God’s tremendous love for us and for all creatures, and how our response to that love is reflected in the way we treat others and ourselves. She shared stories from her life as a Little Sister, her encounters with the poor and how these experiences have changed her and made her more aware of God’s love. We spoke about simple living and gospel poverty, and daring to meet the other. Francisca pointed out that poverty alone does not save. Only poverty or simple living with love has the power to save and transform. Fr Lennie and Fr Sammy at Mass shared with us the Word of God and broke for us the Bread of Life. After Mass on Saturday we processed with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament to a tent of adoration set up in the field below the house. There Jesus “pitched his tent amongst us” until Mass on Sunday and there He received us “in spirit and in truth”. Lennie also bailed me out for Morning and Evening Prayer.

I am very grateful to Michele and Jim for their hospitality and very warm welcome. They prepared and provided all the food which consisted of hearty soups, sandwiches, salads and finger foods. There were homemade chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin and peanut butter cookies which were literally out of this world. We even had popsicles on Saturday night which also featured a campfire. Most of us had to come a distance to get to the Assembly. The travelers from NYC were delayed by terrific thunderstorms that day at NY, and one felt Jesus inviting us “to come away by yourselves to a lonely place so you can rest”. Although the beautiful vista and scenery of Cattaraugus County did not evoke the Sahara or the Hoggar of Brother Charles’ life and travels, the presence of nature, the wonderful night sky, the warm and very simple welcome, the tents all recalled for me the hermit of Beni Abbes and Tamanrasset.

We had with us in addition to the members of the Buffalo fraternity, representatives from the Mt Vernon, Boston and Philadelphia fraternities. Joyce, Janet and Mark from NYC graced us with their presence and friendship. Lon Grassman, a biologist from Texas and most recently Columbus, OH and who has written to Lorraine for a couple of years made it out to Otto and shared in a beautiful way with us some of the spiritual journey he’s been on and which has drawn him to Brother Charles. Sister Marilyn and Sister Joseph of the Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary in Maryland shared their lives and friendship with us. Brother Jakob Thibeault who is a priest of the Old Catholic Church in Providence, RI was with us. He has been attempting to live a life of service to and solidarity with the poor in Providence and feels a great kinship with Brother Charles and we were happy to meet him and share fraternity with him.

Next year’s one day assembly will take place in Philadelphia on Saturday, June 1, 2013, so save the date. The meeting of the Community Representatives at Tabor House in Tarrytown is set for Saturday November 17. Fernando from Boston who has taken over as webmaster from Joe Conrad has been making some changes to the website, I’m hoping we’ll have some pictures from the recent gatherings, as well as documentation available soon.

In fraternal service,

Frank

No American Responsable

Lay Fraternity of Charles de Foucauld