Franciscan Social Theatre is a perfect example of what Pope Francis talks about in Fratelli Tutti, when he says, “Hope is bold.” With these words, the Pope invites us to open our hearts and minds, so as to look beyond what is to what could be. It is the embracing of the ideals found in the Gospel, which make life more beautiful and worthwhile.
From May 1-13, 2023, Friars Michael LASKY, OFM Conv., Stefano LUCA, OFM Cap., and Elias SAOUD, OFM Cap., hosted a Franciscan Social Theatre Facilitators Training Course at the Capuchin Friary in Beirut, Lebanon for ten young Christians from Syria. The course offered the young participants a space where they could touch this boldness of hope, so that they might return to their country as missionary disciples, prepared to respond to the trauma caused by years of war and the more recent earthquake.
Social Theatre is a bold and creative response to trauma, especially trauma experienced by children. It does not fix suffering children; instead, it keeps kids and adults from getting stuck in their trauma or from withdrawing too far into themselves. Social Theatre works to keep them using their words and bodies to express their feelings and experiences.
Franciscan Social Theatre adds the dimension of spirituality. Each day we gather for Mass where, during the homily we explore how Jesus and his disciples, or Paul and Barnabas, interacted with others using the same or similar skills used in social theatre. Moving from the table of the Eucharist to the dining room table, we create a culture of care for the participants who share their own joys and struggles of faith and life in Aleppo and Damascus, Syria, where Christians account for only ten percent of the population. In addition, we all made a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Harissa and the Monastery of Mar Charbel in Lebanon.
We are grateful to the Franciscan Friars Minor, Jesuit Relief Services, the Salesian Sisters of Aleppo and the Sisters of Charity in Damascus, for sending us the participants who have now returned home and are working on initiating five Franciscan Social Theatre projects throughout Syria. We are also thankful to our confrere, the Most Reverend César ESSAYAN, OFM Conv., Vicar Apostolic of Beirut, as well as Friars Piotr KAWA and Adrian BACIU, who visited and were able to take part in some of our training activities. We are also thankful to the friars at the St. Anthony Friary in Beirut for inviting our leadership team over for Lebanese coffee on our free day.
If you are interested in learning more about Franciscan Social Theatre, you can view our video from our recent Project Ukraine with subtitles in English, Italian, and Ukrainian.
Friar Michael LASKY,
General Delegate for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation