“Rebuild My Church!”

 Br. Michael Perras, ofm



Rebuild My Church

Charism, Commission, Mission


From February 16 – 19, Friars from across Canada along with two Franciscan Sisters and several lay men and women gathered for a weekend of Synodal listening and sharing at Mount St. Francis Retreat Centre. Varying in ages and backgrounds this diverse group leaned into what it means to be church today and to dream for the church. We considered the charism of the church, how we are called into communion and sent forth in mission. The following is the summary shared with the group.


We the church,

we a reflection of the church; the church we love, know and desire,

we have gathered these past four days,

to listen, to respond, to dialogue, to be present to the Way.


We the church

have prayed together and sung together,

we have broken bread together at The Table (of the Eucharist) and at table,

told stories and shared ourselves trusting the support is stable.


We the church

who are diverse and unique reflections of the gospel,

for some of us have been longer on the journey,

while others are short on the journey.


We the church

hearing the heartbeat of God,

hearing the voice of Jesus,

hearing the invitations of the Holy Spirit.


We the church

have questioned where we are within the church

and what we are hearing on the road,

to notice how we bear each other’s load.


We the church

paid attention with compassionate hearts

to the truths of our brothers and sisters

how the Spirit can be heard through tears and whispers.


We the church

have pondered what it means to be synodal,

and how we are being promoted by the Spirit to be

allowing us to be open, honest and to keep Christ as key.


We the church

have cried in joy and cried in sorrow,

we have shared photos and treats

all while being at Mount St. Francis Retreat.


We the church

have played new games and snacked,

and have enjoyed the diversity of language

each of us called to be on pilgrimage.


We the church

have walked the land and breathed in the fresh mountain air

the richness of creation speaking gospel truths too

holding on to what is beautiful, honest and true.


We the church

female, male, laity, religious, straight, gay, prophets and mystics,

old friends or new friends found,

we build up together on fertile holy ground.


We the church

sisters and brothers have spoken of age and life,

have heard the church and her cries

for life, dignity, hope and to rise.


We the church,

challenged and celebrating,

seeking and serving,

know the Spirit is always surging.


We the church

vulnerable, the story of humanity

community, the story of belonging

one body, one heart seeking and longing.


We the church

humble, tangible, welcoming, walking together

discerning, open, grace-filled, creative and willing,

bold, courageous with Christ in the journey thrilling.


We the church

with St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi

and countless women, men and children are

rebuilding the church

filled with grateful hearts,

renewed in faith, hope and love,

we will not be afraid

because we are

loved by God,

centered in Christ,

inspired by the Holy Spirit,

sent out in mission.


We the church say Amen!

We the church say Amen!

We the church say Amen!



Ubi Caritas Et Amor, Deus Ibi Est.




Vulnerable with Gratitude


There is a deep, profound joy to be found being vulnerable before Christ.


This was one of my most impactful takeaways from participating in the Franciscan Synod at Mount Saint Francis in Cochrane, Alberta this past weekend.


This gathering marked the first time that lay people had been invited to join the Franciscan Holy Spirit Province in synodal discernment. Lay and consecrated men and women, totaling 49 of us from across Canada, gathered to discuss where the Spirit was leading the Church and just what exactly “synodal church” means to us.


By filling our day with prayer and being intentional with our discussions, we cultivated an atmosphere of welcome that inspired people – many of whom had just met for the first time – to share thoughts and opinions from the deepest reaches of their hearts.


I was starkly taken aback by the depth of sharing that everyone engaged in, and I was overwhelmed by the love that the rest of the group showed in response. From sexual orientations, to addictions, to childhood traumas and fears, our conversations reached every conceivable topic, and from there, our conversations wove our life experiences into our perceptions of our faith and church.


Focusing on the theme of “Rebuild My Church!”, we reflected on three topics over the weekend. First, Charism: where we were in our own personal faith journeys? Where and how do we hear God’s voice? Second, Communion: What does it mean to be a synodal church? Where are we going – individually and collectively? And third, Mission: What is our vision for the Church, and where do we see the church and the Holy Spirit calling us to go?


Some thoughts were idealistic, while others were concrete; and while we did not agree on everything, we did reach some kind of agreement on all topics through prayer and discussion.


While our day was filled with prayer, Mass, and discussion, our evenings were left open for fellowship. The Franciscans are well known for their sense of devoted fraternity, and they spared no effort in welcoming us with open arms, loving hearts, and don’t forget the nature walks, board games, karaoke, and plenty of snacks!


On our last day in a large circle, we shared what we were taking away from our experience and what we were grateful for. The most resounding sense of gratitude was for each other, but also for our experiences this past weekend, our trust in each other, our love for our Church, and our one true Faith.


It was through our vulnerability before each other and our vulnerability before Christ that we realized we are intrinsically to each other’s journey of walking together in the Church. Together, we lived firsthand the Synod church we had imagined in our discussion groups, and we left feeling empowered to bring our new perspectives to our own home parishes.


This synod was transformative in our understanding of what we are called to do as a church. We are called to be inclusive missionaries of Christ. We are all distinct voices blended into the symphony of the Gospel composed by Christ.


I am so thankful to have been invited to participate in this synod and to all those who organized it. I am grateful for the friends I made, and for all the laughter, tears, and love we all experienced this weekend. Most importantly, I am thankful to my God who saves, and my God who loves.


Veni Spiritus Sanctus.


– Noëlle M