By Mary Elsen, The Circuit.
The criminals, the drug addicts, the poor – these are the members of society often overlooked. The Franciscan Friars of the Renewal are on a mission to serve the poor and those in need of reform.
The showing of “Outcasts,” a Grassroots film, was the kickoff to Benedictine’s Social Justice Week on Feb. 12.
The film brought viewers along on the mission of the F.F.R. in New York, Ireland, Honduras and England. Each location showcased a different struggle faced by the poor including drug abuse, crime, hunger and many other challenges.
David Trotter, director of mission and ministry, introduced the film by saying its purpose is to “encounter the poor through the eyes of the poor.”
Throughout the movie, the audience is bombarded with the harsh realities of poverty. The Friars reach out to those struggling with sickness, crime, drugs, hunger and loneliness – these being just some of the many forms of poverty.
In the film, the F.F.R. repeatedly work to bring Jesus Christ to others and accompany those in need on their journey.
After the film, the floor was open for question and answer with Joseph Campo, director and executive producer of “Outcasts,” Br. Pier Giorgio C.F.R. and Fr. Sebastian Maria Kajko C.F.R.
Campo and Kajko touched on the struggles faced by those working to make the movie.
Kajko said when Campo first approached the F.F.R., they turned down his idea of making a film about them. Later, the order agreed to the film, but Campo didn’t have the money he needed to proceed with the project. It took another year to get the film rolling.
“We need a lot of prayer,” Campo said. “Hundreds of doors were slammed in my face when I was making this film. Everything that could go wrong went wrong, but we’re here today [showing the film] and we’re here today because of the power of prayer.”
“Outcasts” featured many broken people and captured pieces of their struggles.
While capturing intimate moments, Campo recalls the two thoughts that always crossed his mind: first, “Am I exploiting this person” and second, “Did I get the shot?”
“There is no easy way to do it,” Campo said on capturing intimate shots. “Everyone who’s in the film gave us consent to film them.”
Campo said that most people give the same reason as someone else for allowing themselves to be filmed in difficult moments: “I’m hoping that someone will see what’s happened to me and it doesn’t happen to them.”
“We do have a goal in mind when we make these films,” Campo said. “Salvation of souls is really the goal in mind and it’s to stir people, stir people’s emotions and also hopefully to call to action.”
Both the Franciscan Friars and Campo spoke on the sense of beauty they find in their work and life.
Br. Pier Giorgio said he enjoys getting to know people and seeing them light up.
“You obviously see profound brokenness and there’s emptiness there that their trying to fill, but then they [the poor] come and they are filled by relationships,” Giorgio said.
Kajko pointed out that the film showed some key aspects of the Franciscan Friar’s life: their work with the poor, fraternity, prayer life and evangelization.
“Our prayer life is really key always,” Kajko said. “I want to see them [the poor] for who they really are. I want to see them the way Christ sees them. I do see that, on one level, or what draws me to them, what keeps me with them, is the truth that they are daughters, they are sons no less than I am and that, to me, is beautiful.”
Campo also gave his thoughts on the beauty found in life.
“I’ve had the opportunity to work with the poor for many, many years now and I find it to be very exciting and there’s a tremendous amount of beauty in that excitement, if you will.” Campo said. “I kind of hopefully can look at them as Jesus would look at them, too. I think we’re just like them in a lot of ways. Maybe their sins show. But ours don’t? But what’s the difference? We’re all the same in God’s eyes.”
Although Campo enjoys his work with the poor, he knows his limits.
“I think there has to be a certain amount of balance in your life,” Campo said. “I don’t think you can only live within people’s weaknesses or addictions or whatever the case may be, there has to be some sort of balance. You have to find that balance. I think the only balance, quite frankly, is beauty and it is Christ.”