You may have been wondering about the title of my blog. In the Fall of 2002, I went to the University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne, IN for a campus visit. I was immediately struck by the beauty of the campus and the kindness of the people. I decided to study business at Saint Francis, but as it tends to be with God, my study included a discovery. Not only did I learn much about myself, I also learned about what it meant to me to be a “Wesleyan Methodist” on a Catholic campus.
On my first day on campus, I stood outside the small chapel debating whether I should enter or not for Mass, as I had never been to a Catholic Mass before. A short, yet kind, nun, dressed in brown, greeted me. I asked her if I could join the time of prayer, not feeling comfortable calling it a Mass as a Protestant. She replied, “Yes, of course, and it has air conditioning, so it’s cool in there.” That began a friendship that continues this day with Sister Geraldine Hartke, OSF, who now lives in Mishawaka. The Sisters of Saint Francis live with a contagious joy, one that I imagine Francis himself lived as he shared the Good News of the Gospel.
I learned more about this person Saint Francis and the sisters who followed his way of life. The Franciscan values of the University are:*
-Reverence the unique dignity of each person
-Encourage a trustful, prayerful community
-Serve one another, society, and the church
-Foster peace and justice
These values spoke to me and I would later realize that they were consistent with my Wesleyan theology. Wesley was concerned with both personal and social holiness. He cared about peace and justice, creation, prayer, service, and experiencing God’s grace. I sense the grace, love, and kindness of Jesus’ Spirit in both Wesley and Francis.
As I discerned my call to ministry within The United Methodist Church, the Sisters of Saint Francis were there for me. They offered their prayers, encouraging words, and listening ear. As I prepared to graduate from college and enter seminary, I wrote an article for the school newspaper calling myself the “Franciscan Methodist”; as one who was Methodist, yet embraced the Franciscan values. The Sisters loved my self-proclaimed title and invited me to fully embrace the spirit of Francis as I began ministry.
I have embraced this call to be a “Franciscan Methodist” pastor. As a symbol of these roots in both Wesley and Francis, as I was ordained two years ago, I wore a San Damino cross around my neck, which is the cross that spoke to Francis in Assisi and is a symbol for the Franciscan Order around the world.
I continue my ministry today in the spirit of the many saints of the church universal and especially Rev. John Wesley and Saint Francis. I pray that they would be as pleased as the Sisters were of my self-proclaimed title of being the “Franciscan Methodist.”