Aug 17, 2022
Join practitioner and scholar Jean-François Godet-Calogeras, interviewed by guest host Darleen Pryds, as he tells his story of growth and social engagement from village to village in Belgium and the United States, from happiness to greater happiness as he lives the passion and joy of Franciscan life.
For a video version of this episode, see: https://youtu.be/KRc0LZh5Zws
From Jean-François’s interview:
“Reading the writings of Francis that is full of quotes from the gospel, I started reading the gospel as I had never read it before. And found out that the gospel happened and was written in a historical context, and the same thing with the writings of Francis, expressed within an historical context, a way of life. And it very quickly became a passion. I could not imagine my life outside of that.”
“I was looking for a passion, and the passion came with the writings of Francis that took me back and deeper into the gospel, the good news of Jesus. … At that point, I became very happy. Much happier than I had been before. I always loved the students, but I was dissatisfied by the institutional context. And since then, and other experiences, I'm not a very institutional guy. I'm more of an artist or of the present. I'm an historian and I love history, but it's to help me understand and live the present. Not to be with all stones.”
“I'm not doing it on purpose, but I have been more than once labeled rebel. And it's just because I see things that for me make sense, but then I get in trouble. During that time, I discovered the writings of Clare of Assisi. … Clare was not a nun in enclosure. Clare was a sister with the brothers. And it was basically the same way of life. The man on the road in movement, the women in a place that they called monastery. Culturally, it was just as the world was moving. Women were not normally traveling and mingling with people, but that doesn't mean that they were locked in, in prison. So, I realized that story of First and Second Order, like first and second class, doesn't really fit.”
“I realized again that the Third Order Regular, it was not a third class. And then it became very clear to me that there was one movement. One spiritual family with Francis and Clare, the brother and the sister at the root of that, inspired by the gospel of Jesus. And that movement developed in a very inclusive way to the beginning, but then of course with some complicities and good intention, it had to be organized. It had to be canonically organized.”
“It became clear that I had to leave [the Friars], and I did. … It felt horrible. It felt terrible. It felt that after 18 years or so I was losing my life. I wasn't me anymore. But I faced that. Friends were very, again, very supportive, very instrumental and some, Margaret Carney and others, when traveling to Europe would stop and visit me in my little house in the village, in Belgium. During the time that I was five years in my village, one friend told me that her mother had heard that I was not a Franciscan anymore. And she responded to her mother that no, he's not in the Order of Friars Minor anymore, but he is a Franciscan. That has been a moment of grace to me to realize that, yes, my Franciscan soul was not attached to any institution, and I was grateful for what I had received in the institution. And it's a lot that is part of myself, but I realized I am Franciscan, and I can explain what it means to me. It's a way of life and I will continue.”
For a full transcript, please include episode number and email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi: https://osfphila.org/about/francis-and-clare-of-assisi/
The Wolf of Gubbio: read at Read in The Deeds of Blessed Francis & His Companions XXIII, FA:ED, vol. 3, pp. 482-485 at: https://www.franciscantradition.org/francis-of-assisi-early-documents/the-prophet/the-deeds-of-blessed-francis-and-his-companions-1328-1337/2386-fa-ed-3-page-485.
The Little Flowers of Saint Francis: https://www.franciscantradition.org/francis-of-assisi-early-documents/the-prophet/the-little-flowers-of-saint-francis/2467-fa-ed-3-page-566
Desbonnets and Sabatier: The French Friar minor Théophile Desbonnets was the first one to publish the early Franciscan documents in one volume: Saint François d’Assise: Documents (Paris: Éditions franciscaines, 1968). Paul Sabatier is the father of the modern Franciscan studies. His masterpiece is his Vie de saint François d’Assise (Paris: Librairie Fischbacher, 1894).
A Short List of Publications by Jean-François:
Écrits de François d’Assise, French translation with introduction and notes, in François d’Assise: Écrits, Vies et Témoignages (Paris: Éditions du Cerf – Éditions franciscaines, 2010).
Reference to Gibecq cheese: From 1978 to 1980 Jean-François worked with Jean Frison, a farmer in Gibecq (Western Wallonia) who was starting Agrisain, a cooperative of farmers.
The International Project on the new Rule for the Third Order Regular, approved in 1982; for more information see History of the TOR Rule: A Source Book (St. Bonaventure: Franciscan Institute Publications, 2008)
As a Franciscan Jean-François lived in many places! Among the places mentioned in this episode are Louvain and its university; the General Curia (headquarters) of the Order of Friars Minor in Rome; five months in solitude in Oostduinkerke; five years in a small village, Mont, near Namur, and currently in Allegany, NY https://www.allegany.org/
Haversack: A Franciscan review published from 1977 to 1999; available at: https://app.box.com/s/e0z1cpxq9br9n30ntucfcgn2zzpdipyz
Franciscan Institute: The Franciscan Institute on the campus of Saint Bonaventure University
Veggie Wheels: https://www.cattfoundation.org/news/article/current/2020/08/26/100140/veggie-wheels-continues-service-through-pandemic-challenges