The work of Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation (JPIC) can be understood as the practical living out of Christ’s command to “love your neighbour.” Among the key areas with which the friars are involved at present are:
Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Trafficked People
Franciscans throughout the world have been asked to offer special assistance to those who have been “marginalised” in society. Our way of responding has been through the House of Welcome, a project under the auspices of St Francis Social Services, to provide assistance to Asylum Seekers who have been released from detention. It involves a shop-front in the Sydney suburb of Carramar for the provision of advice and practical assistance and, in addition, a number of houses for refugee and asylum seeker families who would otherwise be homeless. www.houseofwelcome.com.au
The Franciscans provide a house for the use of Lentara UntingCare (formally Hotham Mission Asylum Seeker Project) to provide temporary refuge to asylum seekers in Melbourne. www.hothammission.org.au
The Franciscans have provided funding that helped establish The Bread & Butter Project. This is a social enterprise training refugees and asylum seekers in an artisan bakery, delivering bread to Sydney's fine food purveyors. www.thebreadandbutterproject.com
Slavery exists today. The Franciscan Friars are committed to working towards the elimination of human trafficking. This work is done through ACRATH (Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans). www.acrath.org.au
Care of Creation
An association with Catholic Earthcare Australia has been established to implement a formation program for the friars to deepen their understanding of environmental issues and the place of ecology in our Franciscan Spirituality. www.catholicearthcare.org.au
JPIC is also concerned with how we treat “our sister, Mother Earth.” A Franciscan Sustainability Guide has been developed for the Province which not primarily a “how to” but a practical way for all to reflect upon and deepen our relationship with creation in our daily life.
Many Australians are coming to be aware of the effects that climate change is bringing to low-lying Pacific Nations such as Tuvalu and Kiribati. They are our neighbours and, as an industrialised nation, we have emitted some of the greenhouse gases that are changing the face of the Pacific. This partnership, coordinated by the Edmund Rice Centre (www.erc.org.au
), brings together religious orders, community groups and individuals and aims to:
- Recognise our ecological debt to these nations
- Take action in support of the people of these nations
- Address the ecological concerns of these people
- To strengthen the ties between Australia and the nations of Oceania
||Supporting other Franciscan Entities
As Francis embraced the lepers and sought to challenge the civil authorities of his time, Franciscans today are engaged in making the world of the poor more just, inclusive, and peaceful. In this spirit, the Province seeks dialogue with people from other cultures and other faiths in an effort to build peace through justice.
In a practical sense, friars have started to build bridges with peoples from our region.
Franciscan parishes in Australia are now involved in partnership programs which support communities in Timor Leste.
• E-pastoral projects (Fatuberliu, Dotik): This project provides a 35 hectare site for agriculture including a warehouse to store produce. It is also be the site for training of local farmers in more sustainable agricultural methods.
• St. Francis of Assisi Kindergarten, Secondary School and Boarding School (Fatuberliu, Wekiar): The friars are involved with the Secondary school. Funded projects include building classrooms and a fence around the school for security and to protect crops from wildlife.
• Servus Pacis Friary (Fatuberliu, Fatukahi): This is an accommodation complex for the religious living and working in this region of Timor Leste.
• Sisters of the Order of Saint Francis Clinic (Taibesi, Dili): This medical clinic is situated not far from the friars in Dili. It operates 6 days a week providing medical advice and treatment.
• Reign of Peace Kindergarten, Primary and Secondary Schools (Fatuberliu, Weberek): This is an opportunity to provide education to Timorese in the more rural areas of the country.
Each of these projects is supported not just by the Franciscan Friars but by Franciscan parishes and schools around Australia. We are constructing relationships as much as buildings.
Franciscans International (FI) is a non-governmental organisation which exists to provide a Franciscan voice at the United Nations, protecting the vulnerable, the forgotten, and our wounded earth. Since its inception in 1982, FI has become a global community with offices in Geneva and New York.
Franciscans International has three main goals:
- Raising awareness of the interconnectedness of all creation, and stressing care for all creation – human and environmental;
- Promoting peace;
- Voicing concern for the world’s poor.
For further information, see www.franciscansinternational.org