The Franciscan spiritual tradition formulates conversion as an ongoing transformational process resulting from divine agency experienced in social encounter. Francis and Franciscans describe these encounters as spiritual journeys deeper into relationship with diverse “others,” and thus drawing closer to God. This essay argues that social encounter as prompt for conversion is an important theme in Franciscan spirituality, and that investigating this theme can open up fresh perspectives on the social dimension of conversion in Christian spirituality. It describes the impact that the California farm worker movement had on Franciscan Friars, and how the Friars interpreted these encounters with language consonant with Francis’ experience, but inflected by contemporary culture. Franciscans who engaged with the farm worker movement described these encounters as a kind of “reverse evangelization,” meaning that they, vowed members of a religious order, had the “good news” proclaimed to them by poor people. This study describes how members of one Christian spiritual tradition responded to a social justice movement calling for solidarity, and considers how they interpreted their responses in light of their religious imaginary of conversion.


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pp. 69-88
Launched on MUSE
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