The Franciscan Federation’s mission is to promote exploration and study of the Franciscan evangelical life and its implications for these times and for our world. It provides opportunities to gather, collaborate and extend the values of continual conversion, contemplation, poverty, humility and peace. What a mission!
One of the events that the Federation arranges is an award to honor men and women who exemplify a Franciscan value, based on the theme of each year’s annual conference. For example, this year’s theme was Franciscans and Muslims: Lessons from the Past and Prospects for the Future. The criteria for the award: people who “exhibit an openness to the other and who, in their service, transcends prejudices, engages in interfaith dialogue or cross-cultural ministry and witnesses to unity in diversity.”
The Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls are pleased to announce that this year’s honoree is Franciscan Associate Brianda Cedial from St. Cloud. Brianda has been a Franciscan Associate since 2009. For 15 years Brianda has served people from over 26 countries through Hands Across the World, a nonprofit she co-founded with Sister Tonie Rausch, a Franciscan Sister of Little Falls. About nine years ago, the Federation began opening its doors to associates, meaning individuals who live out the values, but are not vowed members of a religious community. To my recollection, since the Federation has accepted associates, this is the first year that an “associate” has been honored with the award.
Brianda exemplifies openness to all by engaging in interfaith dialogue and service to immigrants and refugees, reminding them they are all loved by God; and, although they may worship or pray differently, they respect one another and see God’s presence in one another. Immigrants settling in central Minnesota often arrive from countries of violence and discrimination, most are war or economic refugees. Brianda provides a variety of services to newly arrived immigrants and refugees who do not have the language or living skills to thrive in their new home. She provides a safe place for families to gather and socialize and to share their stories, concerns and questions.