Fishing awards, archery, Bouncey Houses, 5K friar fun run, Hiking around the lake, Canoeing, Craftivities Tent, families huddled around a Swedish Smokers! These were just some of the activities pulling families together at Mount St Francis Sanctuary and Retreat Center. Do you ever feel as though technology has too strong a pull from our family gatherings? Have you ever wanted to mute all TVs, phones, and video games during a family gathering called … dinner? Well then you would find solace in FamJam 2019!
The weekend began on Friday at noon when campers rolled in all day in big RV’s the size of buses, pop up trailers, and small tents to pitch alongside the lake. It was well organized with preassigned camping spaces for tents and RV’s and over 80 families participating. The four bouncey houses were a big hit with the kids, and the little ones explored the bright colored castle with big and small rooms to discover and bounce in like popcorn in a frypan. We had a fishing contest for smallest fish caught and biggest fish landed, canoe races, target practice for Hunger Games enthusiasts, moonlit hike around the lake, and family bonding lounging around the “holy smokers,” a clever Swedish smoking log round devised by Tim Moberly. Many community volunteers staffed a “Craftivities Tent” that kept youth busy all day Saturday decorating walking sticks, finger painting, face painting, friendship bracelet making, rosary making, collage building, and more. Many helping hands were teaching all kinds of fun-filled, engaging arts.
Mary Anderson who gifted the friars with all 400 acres back in 1896 would have smiled to see all the arts being celebrated at FamJam. Not only the circus size tent filled with Craftivies, but also the Saturday exhibit by Artist Philip Sugden introducing his wall hangings on handmade canvas that tells a divine, age old tale through image and ancient language. Masterfully and exquisitely detailed work that pulls the viewer into an encounter with all that is good and holy!
The natural setting of Mount Saint Francis filling the horizon with colorful trees reflecting on the water’s surface laid the perfect backdrop for our morning prayer, evening prayer, and Adoration. Saturday evening at sundown we had a candlelight Eucharistic procession from the chapel to the lake shelter, families lined the route with vigil candles and lit the way for Jesus. Later 4 priests celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation for families, and prayerful worship music was led by Phillip Weis and Leah Kelly. Sunday, we celebrated the Lord’s Day with outdoor mass taking in the grandeur of God by the lake, contemplating the Creator’s finger painting the Indiana hills with autumn colors. Together we consecrated all the families to Our Lady of Consolation, patroness of the Midwest friars. (https://franciscansusa.org/province-history). All in all, it was sad to see the weekend come to an end but served as an exceptional way to celebrate the Feast of St Francis of Assisi and also acknowledge all our families and friends of the friars … in the outdoors. I imagine St Francis would have enjoyed the gathering in his day, dancing a happy jig, and playing his favorite 2 sticks like a violin. “The heavens are telling the glory of God, and all creation is shouting for joy…”
Prayer to Our Lady of Consolation
Holy Mary, Mother of Consolation, we are happy to be in the presence of your Holy Family: Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. You are a model woman of faith who learned trust in Our Heavenly Father in all circumstances of life. You give us the perfect example of openness to God’s Word and God’s will, help us to do the same.
Through your prayers, help us to remember God’s promise that all things will work for the good of those who believe. Help us to be able to see that God is at work in our lives, even when life seems so challenging. Help us to place in Gods’ hands the things that cause us stress and worry.
Blessed Mother, you console the afflicted with the assurance of God’s love and presence in their lives. Help us to be hopeful as we continue our pilgrimage through life and as we remember all the wonderful things God has already done for us. May we echo your song from the depths of our hearts, “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” Help us to share the hope that comes from the Holy Spirit with all those we encounter. Jesus, King of Families, come and reign over our family! Mary, Our Lady of Consolation, take possession of our hearts! St. Joseph, Protector of Families, help us to be absorbed in and reflect the love of the Holy Family! Amen