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CPO 2018

Join us for this year’s celebration of the Order’s Plenary Council.

From June 12th – 28th, we will reflect on contemporary realities in the world, the Church, and the Order, spending time in prayer, study, discussion, and decision-making.

For more information, visit the event homepage here.

COMPI and the General Definitory meet in Loreto

The President of COMPI, br. Claudio Durighetto, described the week of meetings between the Conference of Ministers Provincial of Italy & Albania and the Minister General Michael A. Perry with his Definitory as “an experience of communion”.  The meeting took place at a Franciscan retreat house, “La terra dei fioretti”, Loreto, from April 9th – 14th, 2018.

The gathering was an important opportunity for the friars to engage in mutual listening and dialogue. The program was wide-ranging, with some topics of particular interest, such as the current reality of the Provinces and Custodies that make up the Conference, as well as presentations of various projects that the Order’s General Government is pursuing.

The conversations took place in a fraternal atmosphere, with some topics attracting more attention and arousing in the participating friars a desire to know more about the current state of the Order. Space was also devoted to listening to reports about important initiatives in the Conference such as: “Abraham’s Tent“, a community in Favara di Agrigento, Sicily, that offers hospitality to refugees; the new hermitage fraternity in Casacalenda di Campobasso, Molise; and the dining room for the poor in Milan. In addition, the Ministers Provincial and General Definitors visited Treia friary in the Marches, a formation fraternity badly hit by the recent (2016) earthquake.

The number of brothers present increased considerably on Friday, when friars of the Conference in Temporary Profession and in the first seven years of Solemn Profession came to meet the Minister General and Definitory. Br. Michael’s presentation emphasized the beauty of discipleship, highlighting the close link between vocation as a personal response to God’s call and life in fraternity. There cannot be an authentic relationship with the Lord without a genuine relationship with the brothers.

In the afternoon the young friars were divided into small groups to share, reflect, and answer the questions that the Minister General put to them: What motivated you to begin living the Franciscan way of life? What robs us of the joy of following the Lord, and what disappointments have you experienced in your personal journey? What, on the other hand, restores peace, enthusiasm, and authenticity? What do you see as the future for your Province and the Order?

The friars’ answers revealed a great sense of belonging to the Order, and a desire to give of themselves in the cause of the renewal of our Franciscan charism.

At the conclusion of the meetings on Saturday, deep gratitude to God was expressed, asking the Lord for the strength to nourish communion so as to continue to walk together as brothers and witnesses to the truth of the Gospel.

 

Living Holy Week with the International Fraternity for Dialogue in Istanbul

Holy Week is a special time of the year. It is the moment when Brothers, together with the people they serve, recommit themselves to living the joy of the Gospel. This is particularly true for the Brothers of the International Fraternity for Dialogue.

The International Fraternity for Dialogue was established by then-Minister General Jose Carballo as an expression of the Order’s commitment to ecumenical and interreligious dialogue (CCGG art. 93-95). Its founding home is the parish of St. Maria Draperis in Istanbul, Turkey, where the Brothers also serve the parish of St. Louis on the grounds of the French Consulate. Three years ago, they opened a second house in Izmir, where they serve the parishes of Holy Spirit and St. Mary.

As only 0.05% of the population of Turkey is Catholic, everything the Brothers do entails dialogue – from the dialogues of life and work to the dialogues of spiritual and theological exchange. While Islam is Turkey’s predominant faith (98% of the population), making Muslims their major dialogue partners – from Sunnis and Alawites to Sufi masters and curious searchers – the Brothers also have excellent relationships with the Orthodox Churches, as well as with Protestant communities.

This diversity marked every aspect of Holy Week, from Monday’s ecumenical prison ministry to Easter Vigils that brought together the parishes’ Italian-, English-, French- and Spanish-speaking communities. In between were multi-lingual penance services, blessings from church leaders, and visits from the cities’ Muslim mayors. Since Catholic parishes are so intimate, many liturgies were held in common to enhance that felt sense of unity which lies at the heart of the Paschal Mystery.

One quickly feels the Church’s catholicity in Turkey, where Christians are daily called to give common witness to the Gospel, especially in the face of the daunting challenges confronting them. Given Turkey’s historical place at the crossroads of Christianity, from St. Paul’s journeys to today’s migration of Middle Eastern and African refugees, is this surprising? It is such catholicity that enables the Brothers to live the joy of Holy Week throughout the year.

The best way to come to know the Fraternity is to visit the Brothers. Their doors are always open, especially in October for their annual Course on Dialogue. People can also visit their website (www.istanbulofm.org) and watch their documentary Together on the Way, available on YouTube.

The International Fraternity for Dialogue is directly under obedience to the Minister General. It welcomes Brothers from throughout the world desiring to serve in it on either a temporary or permanent basis. Interested Brothers should contact the Guardian, Br. Eleuthere Makuta, for more information (makutaba@yahoo.fr).

Venerable Florenzia Profilio, Foundress of the Institute of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of Lipari

Promulgation of Decrees of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints

On 14 April 2018, the Holy Father Francis received in audience His Eminence Cardinal Angelo Amato, S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. During the audience, the Supreme Pontiff authorized the same Congregation to promulgate the Decrees regarding the heroic virtues of the Servant of God, Florenzia Giovanna Profilio, Founder of the Institute of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of Lipari; born in Pirrera Lipari (Italy) on December 30, 1873 and died in Rome on February 21, 1956.

Venerable Florenzia Profilio

The venerable Florenzia Profilio was born on the island of Lipari (Italy) in 1873. She emigrated to New York (USA) with her family and embraced the religious vocation with the Tertiary Franciscan Sisters of Allegany. In 1905, at the invitation of Archbishop Francesco Raiti, Bishop of Lipari, she returned to Italy to start a new community in the service of the diocese on her native island. The development of the Institute of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate of Lipari gradually spread over time in several cities in Italy, as well as in Brazil and Peru. Mother Florenzia governed with the strength of her example more than with exhortation and words. Her evangelical lifestyle conquered the love and esteem of those who had the joy of spending time with her. She died in Rome on February 21, 1956. Her cause of canonization began in 1982.

International JPIC Course 2018 in Guadalajara, Mexico

The annual International JPIC Course was held in Guadalajara, Mexico from 9th to 16th April by the JPIC General Office with the collaboration of the Province of St. Francis and Santiago. This year’s theme is “Migration: Causes, Walls, and Franciscan Perspectives.” Thirteen experts on the issue, including Br. Martín Carbajo, OFM, Br. Juan Rendón, OFM and Br. Tomás González, OFM, were invited to share their expertise and experiences with 57 participants (41 friars and 12 secular Franciscans). The Course covered the issue of migration in depth with the multi-dimensional (historical, socio-political, cultural, and economic) analysis as well as the exposure to refugee shelter homes. To name some of the expositions, “The Unfair Distribution of Wealth: Social Inequality,” and “Physical and Symbolic Walls: Prejudice, Xenophobia, Fear, and Discrimination.”

There was a fraternal joy among the participating brothers and sisters, and they encouraged each other by exchanging their experiences and ideas.

The Plenary Council of the Order according to the General Constitutions and Statutes

GENERAL CONSTITUTIONS

 

Chapter VII

Title V

The Plenary Council of the Order

 

Article 193

The Minister General with his Definitory, the Secretary General and the Councillors elected and designated in accordance with the General Statutes, together make up the Plenary Council of the Order.

 

Article 194

The duty of the Plenary Council, assembled collegially, is the following:

  1. to offer assistance to the Minister General and his Definitory in governing and inspiring the Order;
  2. to encourage relations and communications between the General Curia and the Conferences, and between the Conferences themselves;
  3. to implement the decisions and decrees of the previous Chapter; to enact decisions and decrees proposed by the General Definitory even if they are contrary to the articles of the General Statutes; these are to have force until the next Chapter;
  4. to interpret the General Constitutions or General Statutes in accordance with article 15 par. 2-3 of the General Constitutions;
  5. to help prepare the next General Chapter and to offer advice regarding its location;
  6. to discuss the finances of the Order.

 

Article 195

  • 1 Unless it has otherwise been expressly determined, the Plenary Council of the Order has a consultative vote.
  • 2 The procedure of a Plenary Council is set down in its rules of procedure.

 

GENERAL STATUTES

Chapter VII

Title V

The Plenary Council of the Order

 

Article 144

The Plenary Council of the Order is to be convoked by the Minister General at the time and place established by the General Chapter or when it seems opportune to the Minister himself, with the consent of his Definitory, and, in addition, any time the majority of the Conferences requests it.

 

Article 145

  • 1 The Council Members of the Plenary Council of the Order are to be elected by the Conferences of Ministers Provincial so that two Council Members are present from each Conference.
  • 2 The Minister General, with the consent of his Definitory, can designate other Council Members for the Plenary Council, provided that the designated Councillors do not exceed half the number of the Conferences of Ministers Provincial.
  • 3 Friars, who may or may not be Ministers, can be elected as Council Members. The election of Council Members is made by the Conferences as they see fit, so that the Council Members will have been elected at least three months before the celebration of the Plenary Council. The names of the elected Council Members and of their substitutes are to be sent to the Minister General in good time.

 

Article 146

  • 1 The Minister General, with the consent of his Definitory, compiles the list of questions to be dealt with in the Plenary Council and is to ensure that this is sent to the members of the Conferences of Ministers Provincial six months beforehand so that they may exchange ideas on the matters proposed.
  • 2 It is the right of each Friar to propose to the Minister General, in good time, topics to be dealt with during the Plenary Council; likewise, each Member is able to present questions to be discussed during the assembly itself, if one third of the Council has approved them.

 

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13th Ongoing Formation Course on Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue, Istanbul

The International Fraternities in Istanbul and Smyrna (Turkey), working with the General Secretariat for the Missions and Evangelization, will present a Course of Ongoing Formation on Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue from October 14th to 28th, 2018 in Istanbul. The course is open to Friars Minor and to members of the Franciscan Family, and will be conducted in French, English, Italian, and Spanish.

The course will deal with Formation in dialogue according to the Franciscan charism, and with Ecumenical and Interreligious dialogue — Islamic-Christian and Jewish-Christian. During the course there will also be a 3-day visit to historical sites in Cappadocia.

The cost of the course is €600. Anyone interested may apply no later than August 31st, 2018 to the course managers:

Br. Giancarlo Guastella: frategiancarlo@gmail.com

Br Pascal Robert: pascalrobert764@gmail.com

or by fax + 90-212-2432791

The first 20 people to be registered will receive confirmation and a detailed course program.

Communique from the General Definitory – Tempo Forte of March 2018

The March 2018 Tempo Forte was held at the General Curia, Rome, from the 12th to the 23th of the month. From the 16th-18th, the Minister General travelled to Egypt for events marking the beginning of the 8th centenary celebrations of the encounter of St. Francis of Assisi with the Sultan.

The first day of Tempo Forte included sessions during which each of the friars of the Definitory spoke about the activities and experiences in which they had been involved during the period since the last Tempo Forte, particularly their meetings with four Latin-American Conferences of Minister Provincials and Custodes in Mexico and Brazil.

On March 19th and 20th, Br. Manuel CORULLÓN FERNÀNDEZ, Secretary of the Plenary Council of the Order, and Br. Matteo GIULIANI attended the work sessions devoted to the Plenary Council (June 12th to 28th in Nairobi). The work schedule for the Council was decided upon, and workshops were held so as to have experience of the world café method that will be used during the PCO.

The final reports of the Canonical Visitation of two Provinces were presented:

  • The Province of the Twelve Apostles, Peru;
  • The Province of the Blessed Trinity, Chile.

 

Changes to Particular Statutes were ratified for the following entities:

  • The Province of the Blessed Trinity, Chile;
  • The Province Magnae Dominae Hungarorum, Hungary;
  • The Province of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Italy (Naples);
  • The Province of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Spain;
  • The Province of Sts Peter and Paul, Mexico (Celaya, Michoacán);
  • The Custody of St. Clare, Mozambique;
  • The Custody of St. John the Baptist, Pakistan;

 

In addition, the Particular Statutes of the General Secretariat for Formation and Studies were approved, as was the text: Statute on the Procedures to be observed in dealing with cases of recourse to the Minister General.

 

Various acts of elections were ratified during the Tempo Forte sessions. These included elections that had taken place:

  • During the Provincial Chapter of the Province of “Our Lady, Queen of Peace”, South Africa;
  • During the Capitular Congressus of the Province the Twelve Apostles, Peru;
  • During the Capitular Congressus of the Custody of the Annunciation of the BVM, Albania, dependent on the Minister General.
  • During the Capitular Congressus of the Foundation “Our Lady of Africa”, Congo-Brazzaville, dependent on the Minister General.

 

Extra-Capitular elections of some Guardians in various Entities of the Order were ratified, as were the elections of a new Minister, Vicar, and Provincial Definitor in the Province of Sts Francis and James (Zapopan, Mexico), arising from the appointment of the previous Minister Provincial, Br. Juan Manuel MUÑOZ CURIEL, as auxiliary bishop of Guadalajara.

 

The General Definitory elected the following General Visitators:

  • Ivan SESAR, Definitor General, for the Province of St. Jerome, Croatia (Zara);
  • Cesław GNIECKI for the Province of the Assumption of the BVM (Katowice, Poland);
  • Dymitr ŻEGLIN for the Province of St Hedwig (Wroclaw, Poland);
  • Hugh McKENNA for the General Curia fraternity “S. Maria Mediatrice”, Rome;
  • Jónás BÁN for the Province of St Stephen the King, Transylvania-Romania.

 

Sadly, the following substantial number of requests were examined:

  • dismissal from the Order (3);
  • dispensation from the obligations of the clerical state (4);
  • secularisation pure et simpliciter (6);
  • secularisation ad experimentum (4);
  • dispensation from Solemn Vows (7);
  • exclaustration for three years (4).

 

A list of the personnel needed for various important services in the Houses and Entities directly dependent on the Minister General was drawn up. These brothers will have to be located, and so the members of the Definitory undertook to search for friars who would be available for this service.

The General Definitory also heard updates on the activities and future plans of the General Secretariat for Missions and Evangelization, the General Secretariat for Formation and Studies, and the JPIC General Office. In addition, Br. Priamo ETZI, Vice Postulator General and Director of the OFM General Historical Archive (AGOFM), gave a report on the activities carried out in those two offices during 2017. The General Treasurer, Br. John PUODZIUNAS, presented the 2017 year-end accounts of the General Curia and of all the Houses dependent on the Minister General. After a worthwhile dialogue, during which various matters were clarified and studied, the accounts were approved by the General Definitory.

Since no Provincial or Custodial Chapters are to be held in 2018, the Meeting of the Minister General and Definitory with newly elected Provincial Ministers and Custodes will not take place in January 2019. Because of this, the January 2019 Tempo Forte will take place from January 7th to 18th; this schedule will also allow the Minister General to participate in the World Youth Day in Panama from January 22nd to 27th, 2019.

The next Tempo Forte will be held at the General Curia from May 7th to 18th, 2018.

 

 

Rome, 10th April, 2018

Br. Giovanni Rinaldi, OFM
Secretary General

RIP: Br. Henry Howaniec OFM, Bishop of Almaty, Kazakhstan

Br. Henry Howaniec embraced Sister Death on Good Friday, March 30, 2018, in the 87th year of his life, the 66th year of his religious profession, the 62nd year of his priestly ordination and the 17th year of his episcopal ordination.

Br. Henry was born on February 14, 1931 in Chicago, Illinois and entered the Franciscans of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Province, Pulaski, Wisconsin in 1948, receiving the religious name, Theophil.

In 1967 Br. Henry made his way to our General Curia, Rome, Italy where he assumed his new responsibilities in the offices of the General Secretary, Protocal, and Translations. While in Rome he studied at the Antonianum, and at the Christian Russian Center in Bergamo, Italy.

In 1993 Br. Henry was missioned to Kazakhstan and engaged in pastoral ministry in Almaty, the ancient capital of Kazakhstan, where five friars served the church in various activities, including pastoral care, management of an orphanage, preparation for and administration of the sacraments and medical services.

Br. Henry was named head of the Apostolic Administration of Almaty on September 26, 1999 and named Bishop of Almaty with a titular see of Acolla on October 18, 2000.

Bishop Henry left Kazakhstan for the United States to renew his visa with the intention of returning to Almaty. He became ill and was never able to realize his dream. His last days were spent at the Milwaukee Catholic Home where he embraced Sister Death. The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on April 4, 2018. Burial at the ABVM Provincial Cemetery, Pulaski, Wisconsin.

May the soul of our brother, Henry, rest in the peace of Christ, Amen.

Appointment of Br. Luis Antonio Scozzina, OFM as bishop of Orán, Argentina

The Pope has appointed as bishop of the diocese of Orán, Argentina, Br. Luis Antonio Scozzina, OFM, currently coordinator of the “Santo Tomás de Aquino” Institute of the Rosario Campus of the Catholic University of Argentina.

 

Br. Luis Antonio Scozzina, OFM

Br. Luis Antonio Scozzina, OFM, was born on 6 May 1951 in the city of San Lorenzo, Province of Santa Fe. He received scholastic education at the “San Carlos” and “San Francisco Solano” colleges of the Franciscan Friars and carried out his ecclesiastical studies at the “Máximo” school of the Jesuit Fathers in San Miguel.

On 9 March 1980 he was ordained a priest and incardinated in the Order of Friars Minor.

As a priest he has served in the following roles: vice master of aspirants and master of the Temporary Professed in San Lorenzo (Santa Fe); superior of the Province “San Miguel” in Rosario; rector of the “Fray Luis Bolaños” Franciscan Theological Institute in San Antonio de Padua, Buenos Aires; dean of the “Fr. R. Bacon” Faculty of Chemistry and Engineering of the Catholic University of Argentina; head of animation of “Justicia y Paz” and “Integración de la Creación” for the Franciscans of the Southern Cone; parish priest of “San Francisco Solano” in the archdiocese of Rosario; guardian of the “San Francisco” Convent in Santa Fe.

He is currently coordinator of the “Santo Tomás de Aquino” Institute of the Rosario Campus of the Catholic University of Argentina.

JPIC Newsletter: CONTACT (01-03.2018)

Dear sisters and brothers,

Happy Easter!

We wish all of you the blessings of the Risen Christ!

Here is the latest edition of “CONTACT” in 2018 with the joy of Easter:

 

English – CONTACT

Español – CONTACTO

Italiano – CONTATTO

 

The “CONTACT” is an open space where you can share stories and information on your JPIC ministry. You can send your stories to pax@ofm.org. The next issue of “CONTACT” will be published in June 2018.

We ask you to circulate our JPIC quarterly bulletin “CONTACT” among the brothers in your entities. We believe that communication is even more important than publication.

This is the Facebook page of the JPIC General Office. Visit our page: https://www.facebook.com/ofmjpic/

We pray for you, sister and brothers, that our Lord may give you the new spirit and courage.

 

Fraternally yours,

Jaime Campos, OFM & Rufino Lim, OFM

 

CTC No. 52 (03.2018)

It is with real joy and some emotion that we present Number 52 of the review cTc which we have chosen to dedicate to the first 50 years of the Pro Monialibus Office of which cTc itself is the ‘child’. In these opening lines which, this time, we have borrowed from the Delegate General, we, the editorial team, would like to express the gratitude of all the sisters, to the Friars Minor. They, immediately after the Second Vatican Council, enabled the nuns of the Second Order to advance along the path of renewal indicated by the Church in the decree Perfectae Caritatis.

Now, when naturally the group of brothers and sisters is dwindling who could tell at first hand that significant part of the story, now we feel a need to make sure we do not lose the memories which form a vital link with a history to which we belong and which belongs to us all. For this reason we ‘knocked at the door’ of those brothers who accompanied us as Delegates Pro Monialibus. We have asked for memories, for a testimony or an echo of that fraternal ministry which they gave us. And the brothers have proved themselves caring and generous once again.

However the first three Delegates are now dead but we could not neglect to gather something from their experience which paved the way and cleared the path along which we were then able to walk! Therefore the help of Sr. Chiara Agnese Acquadro, Abbess of the Protomonastery of Santa Chiara, has been most precious because she patiently sifted through the text of a number of editions of Pro Monialibus and copied them out for us. From this, we have been able to insert what was missing in our own mosaic of the fruitful care and solicitude shown us by the OFM Curia.

The newly established Pro Monialibus Office collaborated with the work of an ad hoc commission composed of sisters from different parts of the world. This was formed in order to count and catalogue the responses sent by the monasteries in preparation for the new General Constitutions. The President of the English Federation told us that two sisters of that Commission are still alive and this pushed us to contact them in the hope of receiving their memories of that unique experience, which was also certainly a pioneering experience, of ‘inter-clarian’ collaboration. The writings of Sister Mary Francis and Sister Marie-Claire close this edition. They are a precious gift which makes us feel that we too are part of a fruitful tradition which in our own time is able to give shape to the ‘holy working’ of the Spirit of the Lord.

The Sisters of the Editorial Team

 

 

Download PDF – CTC No. 52 (03.2018)

Español – Français – English – Italiano

Their eyes were opened, and they recognized him | Easter Letter of the Minister General 2018

 

Their eyes were opened, and they recognized him!

[Lk 24:31]

Easter Letter of the OFM Minister General, 2018

 

Dear brothers,

May the presence of the Risen Lord bring you joy!

This year the Order holds its Plenary Council in Nairobi, and at the heart of this meeting will be the theme of listening. In order for us to have a creative understanding of what the Word of the Lord is saying to us in daily events and in our lives as friars, active listening is essential. I thought that my letter should be written in that spirit, and that the limitless springs of the Word could provide us with some key biblical texts, leading us to deeper insight into the mystery of the Resurrection — and especially how this foundational event impacts the life of every believer.

Lent has given us many important ways of understanding our journey towards Easter.  Each Sunday we have listened to passages that show God’s commitment in bringing salvation to a people that the Scriptures themselves call hardheaded. In addition, the liturgy of the Second Sunday of Lent in the New Testament account of the Transfiguration of the Lord, offers a glimpse of the glorious splendor of the Son, a glory he shares with those who believe in him. But this splendor will not be ours without first facing a trial that is painful and difficult — our death. I’d like to focus first on this passage because it clearly shows a situation of confusion, bafflement, and even bewilderment on the part of the three disciples that had accompanied Jesus. Most notably, Peter wishes for a state of well-being that is in direct contrast with what Jesus had previously declared: “whoever wishes to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for my sake and that of the Gospel will save it (Mk. 8:35).

In his version, Mark the evangelist emphasizes the discouragement and confusion that the disciples experienced following their being told about the passion and death of Jesus. We see something of the same incomprehension in the disciples on the road to Emmaus. They think they have understood what has happened in Jerusalem, but Jesus considers them to have been foolish and slow of heart (Cf. Lk 24:25). The Transfiguration story highlights the act of listening — when Jesus is transfigured before them, a voice comes from the cloud, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him” (Mk 9:7). This command drives home the idea that the power of death and the torment of the cross cannot defeat the mission that the Savior and Messiah has undertaken; rather, this sacrifice will become an emblem of victory proclaiming the defeat of death (Cf. 1Cor 15:55). Here, listening means choosing as Jesus chose, accepting the way he points to, following him (Cf. Mk 8:34) on a path that initially is not glorious, nor full of interest, but which will bring fullness of life — a path that leads to an authentic life of love, peace, and communion with all people.

Continuing the theme of listening, I would like to consider a second passage, that of the post-resurrection encounter of Jesus with the two disciples at Emmaus (Cf. Lk 24:13-35). This is a fascinating, beautifully written account, composed with the aim of being a lesson describing the path undertaken by disciples who are in the process of learning to recognize the Risen Lord.

The Gospel accounts of the Resurrection appearances are varied and different as regards form, style, and method, but they are consistent in underlining that it was not easy to recognize the Risen Lord —even for the disciples who actually knew Jesus. The evangelists agree on the fact that when the disciples met the Risen Jesus, they were in doubt and they could not be sure of who he was because they were not seeing him as they had seen him a few days previously when they had seen him in the flesh and as an historical person. The Risen Lord is the same, but also completely different.

The Evangelist Luke accentuates the idea that it is not sufficient to see Jesus to believe in the Risen Lord. What is necessary is to undertake an intelligent process of understanding the Scriptures, accompanied by Jesus himself, in order to come to a real recognition of his presence. In other words, it is through meditation on the Scriptures and their application to Jesus that a conviction of the truth of the Resurrection emerges in the believing community.

Easter faith is not just the result of seeing with one’s eyes, but of rethinking the Scriptures and seeing that they are fulfilled in the person of the Risen Lord. Vision alone is not enough because the apparition itself does not bring conviction; instead, conviction comes about through an explanation of the Scriptures that leads to a growing and maturing faith. Paul asserts this in the letter to the Romans: But how can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach? (Rom 10:14).

Luke sets the scene as occurring in the afternoon as the sun is setting. The disciples are headed toward Emmaus on a downhill road. They are going back home, touched by sadness and wanting to retreat into a private setting more suited to their sense of failure and disappointment. They are returning because they feel they’ve made a mistake, they have wasted this period of their lives. They had followed this personality, Jesus, hoping it would be he who would save Israel, but instead it has all ended tragically. At a certain point, Jesus joins them and walks at their side. The two disciples, who must have known Jesus very well because they had been with him for a long time, are now unable to recognize him. How so?

After the Risen Lord physically approaches the disciples, he initiates a further approach, asking What are you discussing? (Lk. 24:16) Jesus’ pedagogy is to draw them out by asking the question — he does not reveal himself immediately, because recognition of the Risen Christ is a process. To paraphrase his question, what Jesus is saying is: what is in your heart, what is motivating you? His question elicits a long reply from the two disciples that is instructive and superior in its tone, and in which they seek to verbalize the failure they are experiencing at that particular moment. But this is the reason that they do not recognize him; they are convinced they know more than the traveler they have just met.

It is important to notice a detail in the fact that the evangelist has portrayed two disciples, but only Cleopas is named. Who could the other be? Taking into account the narrative structure of biblical accounts, we can assume that the narrator has left a space for the reader to feel involved and to occupy a place within the story. So, the other disciple is me, you, or any believer who accepts this message. Many other details in these texts could be underlined, but rather than trying to examine them in full, I would prefer to ask a question: are we friars of the present time convinced and able to recognize the Risen Lord who walks along the way with us?

I have had the privilege of visiting Entities in our Order and I can say with confidence that the great majority of our brothers and sisters witness in their lives to the Resurrection of the Lord. However, I have also noted that in some places there is still some “noise” (from outside and from within) that hinders the intention of listening to the Lord. This din prevents us from embarking on a process of profound discernment similar to the one experienced by the two disciples in the story, when they understood that they had shared a sublime Eucharistic moment of salvation with Jesus.

Looking at these Gospel accounts, I see a dual risk. On the one hand, when we have to face adversities both fear and confusion induce us to stay in our “comfort zones”, thus avoiding choosing the way of the cross proposed by Jesus. It is as if we try to spare ourselves from pain in order to experience a state of spurious wellbeing that leads us to give priority to our own goals, while we leave God’s plans in the background.

On the other hand, we can adopt the approach initially taken by the two disciples in the Emmaus story. This is the attitude of those who believe that they know everything and that their role is to educate others — to the point of even promoting pessimism and discouragement, without stopping for a moment to listen to the other. Now and then it pains me to come into contact with situations where friars suffer the consequences of a lack of communication in local and provincial fraternities. It further convinces me that people who are “puffed up” with themselves are not capable of creating space to listen to the voice of another person. They are unable to quiet the many voices that speak simultaneously, unable to give priority to the silence that provides the space to listen to God and to read the signs of the times with daring as well as wisdom. And when their plans do not work out as intended, then trouble really strikes, and they find themselves in the same position as the disciples on the road to Emmaus — facing disappointment, failure, desolation; wanting to give up, to retreat and forget everything. Because we believed we were at the center of everything, we removed Jesus, the true foundation of every project, and so we see the collapse of our personal projects.

The Resurrection event cannot be reduced to the contemplation of a dead person coming back to life. The Resurrection transcends the physical dimension and through the effects it produces leads us to an experience of authentic salvation, just as the first-generation disciples experienced it. Luke the Evangelist insists that the Risen Lord can only be recognized when we walk with him, while he teaches and opens up the Scriptures to us, and especially when we sit at table with him sharing the bread that is broken. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him, says the text, to emphasize that despite their foolishness, after having walked the way with him, they managed to rediscover the new presence of the Risen Lord. This is the good news that the Gospel itself proclaims: we too will be able to overcome every temptation to self-absorption or skepticism if we practice listening to God and our brothers — if we are able to understand with our hearts and minds the revealed Word that is handed on to us. In St. Francis, we have an obvious example of a person who, in the company of with his brothers and the poor, walks the Gospel way and whose heart is full of joy because he recognizes the One who transformed his life for good.

Let me end this letter with the words with which we were gifted by Pope Francis in his Lenten letter this year. “During the Easter Vigil, we will celebrate once more the moving rite of the lighting of the Easter candle. Drawn from the “new fire”, this light will slowly overcome the darkness and illuminate the liturgical assembly. “May the light of Christ rising in glory dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds” and enable all of us to relive the experience of the disciples on the way to Emmaus. By listening to God’s word and drawing nourishment from the table of the Eucharist, may our hearts be ever more ardent in faith, hope and love.” (Message of the Holy Father Francis for Lent 2018)

I wish you all a blessed and Happy Easter. May you journey in a spirit of listening and discernment, thus living a life renewed in Christ.

 

Fraternally,

Bro. Michael A. Perry, OFM
Minister General and Servant

Rome, 29 March 2017
Holy Thurdsday

Image: Maša Bersan Mašuk, Cristo Risorto, Basilica Marija Pomagaj – Brezje, Slovenia

 

 

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[English] Their eyes were opened, and they recognized him!

[Español] ¡Se les abrieron los ojos y lo reconocieron!

[Français] Leurs yeux s’ouvrirent et ils le reconnurent !

[Hrvatski] Otvoriše im se oči i prepoznaše ga!

[Italiano] Si aprirono loro gli occhi e lo riconobbero!

[Polski] Otworzyły się im oczy i poznali Go!

[Português] Abriram-lhes os olhos e eles o reconheceram!

 

 

Laudato si’ Cultural Evening – A night in praise of God’s creation

On March 23rd, 2018 a cultural event was held to highlight the Encyclical Laudato Si.  The Basilica of St. Anthony at the Lateran was filled to overflowing with brothers and sisters from the Franciscan Family who gathered to praise their Creator. It was a night of wonderful music and featured the display of a beautiful Laudato Si’ icon that was brought in pilgrimage through 18 countries in Latin America last year.

The audience included ambassadors and representatives from embassies to the Holy See, the Rectors of the Antonianum and Urbaniana universities, Superiors General from around ten Franciscan Congregations of Sisters, and representatives from the Capuchins, Conventuals, Salesians, and Benedictines

They were treated to musical performances from three artists, including our brother Friar Alessandro Brustenghi, OFM, who is a member of the fraternity at the Portiuncula — his vocation has seen him develop his musical gift, becoming an internationally recognized tenor, and signing a contract with Decca Records with whom he has recorded three CDs: “Voice from Assisi“, “Voice of Joy” and “Voice of Peace.” The audience also heard from Maestro Eugenio Fagiani, who is considered to be one of the finest organists in Italy and is internationally well known. Finally, Bologna’s famous Children’s Choir “Mariele Ventre based at the Antonianum de Bologna, received a hugely warm response. This children’s choir was established more than 60 years ago and now ranks among the most famous in the world, having sung in numerous concerts with the most famous musicians nationally and internationally.

At the end of the evening, Br. Michel Perry, OFM Minister General, addressed the audience. Using the thoughts and words of the Canticle of the Creatures, he spoke about the grave dangers that threaten our common home and urged all those present to an even greater commitment to its protection and care. He stressed that we need to rediscover the truth that everything comes as gift from God – the profit motive is not enough for an authentically human life. In a world where everything, even play, has become commodified we need to believe that although poetry, song, and beauty are not ‘useful’ in the usual sense, we cannot live without them. Reflecting on the life of St. Francis, Br. Michael said that the God of Francis is a suffering God — a God who shares in the suffering of being human, and who has given all of Creation an inherent dignity. This is the God of tenderness to whom the poetic soul of St. Francis responded in the Canticle — Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks and serve Him with great humility.

Watch the video of the entire concert here:

Pre-Synod, YouFra and the Study Day at the Antonianum on “The Faith of Youth”

Pre-Synod and YouFra, the voice of those who will prepare the document to be given to the Pope

2018 will be remembered above all for the Synod wanted by Pope Francis to give voice to the hopes of the young. The subject of the Synod which will take place in October, “Youth, faith and discerning vocations” will place the young people themselves at the centre of attention for the whole Church. From 19th to 24th March 2018 a pre-synod meeting will be held at which young people from various parts of the world will be invited to draw up a shared document which will be given to the Pope on 25th March and will flow into, together with other contributions received, the Instrumentum Laboris, which is the document which the Synod Fathers will consider. Amongst the contributors to the document is Riccardo Insero, the President of Italian Franciscan Youth (GiFra). The ACI press interviewed him.

Riccardo, a Pre-Synod meeting. The first question is what do you expect of it?

The Synod has been welcomed by all Franciscan youth with great enthusiasm, in that it sees that the Church wants to question itself not just autonomously but rather in conjunction with the contribution of the youth themselves, and that is a source of great joy. We feel the need to be accompanied, we know that we cannot “do it on our own” and witnesses are more than ever needed for the youth of today.

Text: Veronica Giacometti | For the full interview: www.acistampa.com

 

Study day at the Antonianum

On Thursday 19th April there will be a Study Day held at the Auditorium of the Antonianum on Accompanying the Faith of Youth today, organized by the Franciscan Spirituality Institute of the Antonianum Pontifical University.

During the course of the day there will be several interventions, including Paola Bignardi on “God in my way”: youth in terms of faith, and Nico Dal Molin, on Accompanying Young People: from the spirit of fear to the spirit of Love. In the afternoon Loredana Locci, Massimo Pampaloni and Alessandro Partini will animate a round table discussion on Experiences in spiritual accompaniment and the world of young people.

See the entire  programme here.

Missionary course in Brussels for French-speaking Friars

Joyfully we share with all the brothers of the Order, that on March 7th of this year, we began the missionary course in Brussels for French-speaking brothers. There are 10 brothers, six brothers, our OFM and four Capuchin brothers participating in the course. They come from different parts of the world to share their experiences and to prepare better to serve the Order and the Local church where they are sent. We wish them all the best during this time of preparation. We also accompany them and the community that accompanies them with our prayers.

International Council for Formation and Studies meet in Rome

The International Council for Formation and Studies (CIFS) held its second meeting of the sexennium (2015-2021) at the OFM General Curia, from March 11th to 16th. Fourteen Secretaries for Formation and Studies were present, with all the Conferences of Provincial Ministers of the Order being represented.

The agenda included periods of listening as well as discussion and planning sessions. The first part focused on listening to the members of the CIFS — each Secretary was asked to give a presentation on Formation in his Conference, with special emphasis on Ongoing Formation, the training of Guardians, and the Pastoral Care of Vocations.

The following days the group did some more listening, during meetings with the Minister General and Definitory, with the Secretariat for Missions and Evangelization, the Justice and Peace Office, and the Director of the “Collegium Sancti Bonaventurae – International Center for Franciscan Studies. and Research” based at St. Isidore’s College, Rome.

In addition to listening, the CIFS also devoted time to the discussion and planning of major Formation activities for the second part of the sexennium (2015-2021). The Council evaluated the six continental Congresses on Formation that have been taking place since 2017 and which will continue until 2019 (in accordance with decision 3 of the last General Chapter). These Congresses deal with the theme of accompaniment in the context of Ongoing Formation, with particular attention being given to the training of Guardians and the link between Ongoing Formation and Vocations Promotion.

Draft Statutes for the Secretariat for Formation and Studies were examined, corrected and approved. The previous Statutes dated back to 1985 and required revision.

A discussion of Decision 4 of the last General Chapter also took place and the planning of a Conference of Study Centers to be held in 2020 was begun. Decision 4 includes the wording: “to convoke a Congress for the OFM Study Centers on current themes for the life and mission of the Order in the Church, starting from a global cultural and theological perspective.”

Participants of the International Council for Formation and Studies

 

Information on several ongoing initiatives was shared, with some reflections on them:

  • the progress being made regarding the Franciscan University project;
  • the Chapter of Mats for friars “Under 10” being held in Taizè in 2019;
  • a course for Formators from the African Conference (“The Franciscan School of Formation for Formators in Africa”), to be held in Lusaka (Zambia) over three years, for two weeks each year.

The budget of the Secretariat of Formation and Studies was presented, and in a meeting with the General Treasurer the relationship between finances and Formation was explored.

Finally, an Executive Committee was elected, made up of three CIFS members to whom the General Secretariat for Formation and Studies can turn for advice on a regular basis.

 

 

 

An interreligious conference in Jerusalem on the Laudato Si’ encyclical

Presenting the encyclical Laudato Si’ to Israeli and Palestinian societies and discussing “integral ecology:” this was the aim of the conference that took place on March 12 at the Notre Dame Center in Jerusalem. Almost three years after the publication of Laudato Si’, the Pope’s call that was found within the encyclical to “every person who lives on this planet” was the starting point for the speakers, who came from the three different monotheistic religions, and who gave their viewpoints on the common theme of ecology. The event, which was organized by the Custody’s Commission for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, was attended by Christians, Jews and Muslims, who attentively listened asked questions.

Also present [at the event] was Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Department for Integral Human Development. “Serving integral human development has many challenges, many of which are linked to ‘integral ecology,’” the cardinal said. “It is about exclusion, indifference, inequity, lack of solidarity and then the conflicts that are afflicting many countries and populations.” In the wake of what Pope Francis affirmed in Laudato Si’, Mons. Turkson stressed that we must work for an “ecological conversion” that calls not only individuals but the community to action.

Respect for creation is a concept also that is also highlighted in the Qur’an, as Prof. Mohammed S. Dajani Daoudi, director and founder of the Wasatia Academic Graduate Institute, explained in his speech: “The Holy Qur’an, which is considered by all Muslims as the the main source of Islamic doctrine and beliefs, affirms that God created man on earth and that the earth itself is God’s creation, bestowed by the grace of its creator to humanity for us to appreciate it. It is [our] right and a responsibility to use the nature that God has bestowed upon us, and he wants us to protect it and preserve it.”

“The ecological task assigned to humanity is expressed in the Midrash in the book of Ecclesiastes (Kohelet Rabbah 7 Section 28),” said Rabbi David Rosen, international director of interreligious affairs (AJC). From that Midrash, three fundamental lessons can be derived: creation belongs to God who created it; humanity is in reality God’s partner in creation; and man has the responsibility of preserving creation. For this reason, in order to restore the relationship with the divine and the environment, Jews observe the precepts of the Sabbath rest and respect for the ‘sabbatical year,’ during which they cyclically leave land uncultivated land for a time.

Prof. Stefano Zamagni, Professor of Economics at the University of Bologna and member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, then focused on the very mission of mercy in the field of economics: “that of giving ‘shape’ to the market, humanizing it. A society cannot make progress on the path of integral human development by keeping the code of efficiency and the code of fraternity disjointed from one another,” said the professor.

The conclusions of the day were made by Cardinal Peter Turkson. To better understand the message of Laudato Si’, the Cardinal suggested putting the accent on ‘the seven Cs’: Continuity, Collegiality, Conversation, Care, Conversion, Citizenship and Contemplation. Man’s objective is an “ecological conversion” that leads to an “ecological citizenship,” respectful of the environment, for a contemplation of the wonders of creation.

 

Beatrice Guarrera | custodia.org

photos: Nadim Asfour

Through grace of believing, life is once again renewed | The General Minister’s Homily for the International Congress of Formation and Studies

On March 12, 2018, the General Minister, Br. Michael Anthony Perry, shared the following words during the Opening Mass of the International Congress of Formation and Studies at the General Curia in Rome.

 

My dear brother participants in this International Congress of Formation and Studies, the Lord give you peace!

In the Gospel of St. John, we are taken to the region of Galilea where Jesus was recognized and celebrated as a great wonder-worker who could transform the bad and the ugly into goodness and beauty, mastering even the malevolent forces of nature. Yet, despite all of his miraculous powers, Jesus could not force the people who came to hear his words and see his actions to embrace the new vision of God he was proposing; it simply was too radical and demanded too much of a change within their hearts and their lives. They were not prepared to undertake the hard work involved of unlearning what they had learned in their families, neighborhoods, and synagogues, and allow God to carry out within them a process of ‘restructuring’, of ‘revitalization’. No matter how miserable the state of their lives was, to change, to become something new and different was not in the cards for many if not most of those who followed Jesus from a distance.

It is wonderful that you who are engaged in all stages of formation – Ongoing and initial – are here at this gathering where ‘change’ IS the order of business. Unless I have misunderstood the Ratio formationis franciscanae; unless I have failed to see what the document Called to Freedom dealing with the challenges related to ongoing formation proposes; and unless I have failed to perceive within the document Pilgrims and Strangers the call to undergo a Copernican-like revolution in the way we understand the vital and inseparable link that exists between our lives and the lives of our brothers and sisters who are kept in the chains of poverty, marginalization, and exploitation, the same chains that bind and strip our Mother Earth of her vitality, dignity, and capacity to sustain our misbegotten way of life; then perhaps I have understood something of what the Franciscan formative experience is all about.

In the Gospel of St. John, we encounter a father who faces the existential limits of his existence, the possibility of losing his beloved son. He comes to Jesus in order to obtain a favor, a response that will transform the conditions of his child’s illness and open to him a new possibility for life. In the process, the official who is part of the repressive political structure erected and controlled by Herod the Tetrarch, a detail that does not go unnoticed by the evangelist John, comes face to face with Jesus. It is clear that the official does not come to request that Jesus demonstrate his miraculous powers in order to ‘wow’ the crowd. This encounter is absolutely personal: he comes on behalf of his dying son. He had no where else and no one else to who he could turn. But this also is true in the lives of those who come to the Order in search of a response to something that burns within them: a sense of loss; a feeling that God is offering them a new opportunity and a new life; or simply the fact that they feel a desire to respond to some vague and unclear call to embrace a new form of life that will make it possible for them to experience in a new way that they are alive, that life has meaning, and that they have a role to play in shaping the world in a way that is positive, holy, sacred.

What is amazing in the Gospel story is the simple acceptance on the part of the court official of the words, the promise of Jesus that, in fact, his son was already healed. The evangelist wants us to enter in to the experience of what it means to ‘believe’, and to understand that through this grace of believing, of trusting, life is once again renewed!

My brothers, the Franciscan formative experience, which lasts from the day we begin our ‘vocational journey’ to the day we return to the Father through sister death, is about creating the conditions necessary for placing all of our trust in God, and for enabling all brothers of the Order, all novices, all postulants, and all aspirants to come face to face with Jesus; to experience his love and compassion; to feel his embrace and acceptance; to abandon our lives, placing them entirely into the hands of God. The Franciscan formative experience is about coming face to face with the choice between death and life. It is about providing the necessary tools so that at all moments of our life we might continue to choose to seek life: life in God; life with one another; and life for our brothers and sisters and for our Mother Earth.

God is here! Love is near! Let us begin!

Oldalak