Monday, July 15, 2013

Looking for Fellowship? Frassati Fellowship, that is...

I am frequently contacted for information on how to start or find a Frassati group.  Most recently, requests have come from Oregon, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and London.  Some information about this is already on the FrassatiUSA website, along with a few basic tips that I found to be useful with the two groups I helped start in Nashville many years ago.  

I don't want to duplicate that info here but thought I would address some of the most common questions.  Most importantly, FrassatiUSA is not a group, society, fellowship, etc., that someone can join.  This organization seeks to promote the spirituality and canonization of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, primarily by providing resources via the website, online bookstore and social media.  FrassatiUSA also does not develop individual groups, oversee or regulate them in any way, but, rather, attempts to promote their existence and activities to the extent possible.

The FrassatiUSA website lists several existing groups.  Many more still need to be listed and hopefully will be in the near future.  This is just a starting point for someone wishing to join or form a group.  My best advice is to visit the websites/Facebook pages of groups that are out there and pray for inspiration and discernment about how to most effectively begin a group in your parish, diocese, etc.  

In my personal experience, the best group is one that has effective spiritual leadership -- ideally from your parish priest.  Groups designed for dating purposes or for the social life aspect only or where the spiritually blind lead the spiritually blind tend to be very short-lived.  Groups geared toward the traditional young adult age range (20s and 30s) seem to thrive on a menu of faith-filled fellowship and fun -- especially when they really capture the spirit, identity and charism of Blessed Pier Giorgio. 

Finally, anyone familiar with Pier Giorgio has probably heard about the group he started for his closest friends.  He called them, "Tipi Loschi" which translates poorly into English but is often seen as the "sinister ones" or "shady characters."  This group was a great vehicle for Pier Giorgio's sense of humor.  In his book of letters, you can read many "proclamations" he wrote to the members of the group.  They are filled with inside jokes and are fine examples of his wit and writing ability.  One of his best creations was the group's charter or statute.  It is completely comical, including even a fake patron saint for the group.  His reputation for being a practical joker was well earned!  

Ultimately, his goal was to provide opportunities for his friends to spend time with each other -- often on mountain-climbing expeditions he arranged -- and build a spiritual foundation that would unite them long after their circumstances in life led them in different directions.  "I would like for us to pledge a pact," he wrote to his friend Isidoro Bonini, "that knows no earthly boundaries or temporal limits: union in prayer."  

The classic line from Michael W. Smith's "Friends" really holds true for those friendships formed in a Frassati Fellowship:  "Friends are friends forever if the Lord's the Lord of them."  I have experienced this profoundly in my own life and I wholeheartedly encourage you to find a group or consider starting a group in your area.  Then be sure to pass on the contact info so it can be posted on the FrassatiUSA website.  Verso l'alto!

No comments: