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One Year Since COVID-19 was declared a Global Pandemic | Letter of the Minister General

Order of Friars Minor
One Year Since COVID-19 was declared a Global Pandemic
March 11, 2021


My dear Brothers,

May the Lord give you peace!

On March 11, 2021 the world will mark one year since the World Health Organization declared Sars2-COVID-19 a global pandemic. On that date, there were 118,000 verified infections, and 4,291 verified deaths from COVID-19, with 114 countries reporting the presence of the virus. As of February 26, 2021, there have been nearly 112,000,000 confirmed infections, and nearly 2,500,000 deaths from COVID-19, with 192 countries now directly affected by the pandemic. What also is clear is the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has upon our poor brothers and sisters and upon the world’s poorer nations.

I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that everyone of us in the Order knows someone who has become infected, and perhaps someone who has died. It is difficult to verify exactly how many of our beloved Friars have died as a result of complications from COVID-19, but the numbers are significant. Fraternities have been quarantined. Individual Friars have been isolated in hospital or in Provincial or Custodial infirmaries or in other care facilities. Family members have been infected and, sadly, some have died. A significant number of ‘survivors’ of COVID-19 are reporting long-term effects, including exhaustion, respiratory difficulties, heart abnormalities, and other difficulties for which they are now under medical care. One cannot even begin to fathom the psycho-social impact of the pandemic due to fear of contagion, social isolation, and the triggering of other long-standing mental health conditions. They affect not only those unknown to us; they affect our lives as well.

The COVID-19 pandemic is rewriting the history of the world, and, more importantly, the history of each of our lives, the life of the Order, and the Church. We do not know the full weight of collateral ‘damage’ that might come as a consequence of the pandemic, but we already are sensing increased challenges that touch every aspect of our lives, our institutions, and our evangelizing presence in the world today. It is my prayer that each of you has been able to take sufficient time to reflect on the impact of the pandemic on your life, on the other brothers in the fraternity, on your pastoral and missionary work, and on the lives of those whom we have been called to serve.

As we draw near to March 11, 2021, the first year since the official declaration of the Sars2-COVID-19 pandemic, I invite all of you, my dear brothers, to join with the universal Fraternity of the Order for a time of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. These three ‘methods’ find precedence in the Sacred Scriptures and offer an opportunity for those who embrace them to enter into a spirit of conversion of mind, heart, and action (Cf. Joel 1:14ff). Find attached to this letter two prayers that have been composed as a response to the pandemic. They are prayers calling upon God to hear the cry of God’s people and to come to our aid. In the spirit of fasting proposed by the Prophets (Cf. Is 58:6-7) and by Jesus (Cf. Mt. 6:16-18), the focus clearly is on a radical change of heart and mind and is also linked with acts that contribute to the liberation of God’s people by uniting our efforts in one great act of solidarity, something so much needed in our world prior to and as a consequence of the COVID pandemic. This is the focus of Pope Francis’s message in Fratelli Tutti when speaking about the need for the entire world to undergo a radical conversion (Fratelli Tutti 32,55). Finally, I urge you to take time to talk to one another and express how the COVID pandemic has affected your personal life, your involvement with the fraternity, your missionary engagements, and other challenges you are facing. It would most appropriate if the local fraternities could celebrate the Eucharist together on this day of prayer. The moment of dialogue could take place in a special house chapter or during the time for the homily at the Eucharist.

May we unite as the one universal brotherhood on this occasion the first year since COVID was declared a pandemic. Let us call upon Mary, Mother of the Seraphic Order, and all of the saints of the Order to intercede to God on our behalf, and on behalf of all of humanity. May the gift of our fraternity be a source of constant support and encouragement as together we face an uncertain future. May we reflect the love and mercy of God who is always present with us, most especially during these most difficult times, inviting us to stand up and lift up our heads, to see that we are not alone (Cf. Lk. 21:28).

Let us pray for all who continue to suffer the direct physical consequences of COVID-19. Let us pray, also, for all those who are affected socially, spiritually, and economically. And let us remember all of our brothers and sisters who have passed from this life and who now enjoy fullness of life in God’s kingdom.


Rome, March 1st, 2021


Fraternally yours in Christ and St. Francis,

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







Prayer I:

Almighty and eternal God, our refuge in every danger,
to whom we turn in our distress;
in faith we pray
look with compassion on the afflicted,
grant eternal rest to the dead,
comfort to mourners,
healing to the sick,
peace to the dying,
strength to healthcare workers,
wisdom to our leaders
and the courage to reach out to all in love,
so that together we may give glory to your holy name. (Collect of Mass in time of Pandemic)

Strengthen the bonds of our spiritual fraternity,
That we might give witness to your presence and healing love
Through the way we care for one another,
And for the way we reach out to our brothers and sisters most in need,
Especially those most affected by the pandemic.
We call upon the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Seraphic Order,
St. Francis, St. Clare, and all of the seraphic saints,
Asking that they intercede on our behalf to the God of all mercy.
We make this our prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.  Amen


Prayer II:

Lord Jesus,
Who promised to remain with us always,
When information overwhelms us
and fear overtakes us.
speak to us again those comforting words,
“Peace be with you.”
Though we cannot be physically close to others,
give us the ability and courage
to love as well as we can,
Since “perfect love casts out all fear.”
Direct your caring gaze on doctors and nurses,
researchers and safety personnel.
Come to strengthen the sick, vulnerable,
and comfort those who are grief stricken.
And when the pandemic has passed,
and this frightening crisis is resolved,
teach us to know You more certainly
as our dearest Friend and our only Hope.
You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
One God, forever and ever, Amen.  (Adaptation of ‘Prayer in a Time of Pandemic’, Diocese of Cork)
(offer one Our Father. One Hail Mary, and the Glory be….)
Our Lady, Mother of Perpetual Help, pray for us.





Prot. 110340

Webinar: The Peace Dimension of Fratelli Tutti

Minister General, Br. Michael A. Perry, joins a group of panelists for a live webinar to discuss the peace dimensions of Fratelli Tutti.

Live Webinar:
Thursday, March 4 2021
10:00 EST / 15:00 UTC


Pope Francis’ new encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, has much to contribute to the theory and praxis of peace, but this is a theme that has received relatively little attention since its release in October 2020.

How can it be a resource for peacebuilding and impact the practice of peacebuilding? Does it change teaching on just war? How does it open dialogue on peace with Muslims? How does its Franciscan influence deepen the understanding of peacebuilding?

This webinar will examine these questions and more as it probes the peace dimensions of the encyclical.



Michael A. Perry, OFM, Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor

Cecilia Suárez, Head of Office, Mexico, Catholic Relief Services

Anna Floerke Scheid, Associate Professor of Theology, Duquesne University

A. Rashied Omar, Assistant Teaching Professor, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame


Gerald Schlabach, Emeritus Professor of Theology, University of St. Thomas


The Future of the Franciscans in Cuba


Before the revolution in Cuba, there were 104 friars in seventeen communities spread in various parts of the country. Today, there are six friars: four from other countries (Mexico, USA, Guatemala and Ireland) and two Cubans; one who made his solemn profession in 2020 and was ordained a deacon at the end of January 2021, and an 80-year-old who returned to Cuba in 1960 as a priest, just after the Revolutionaries came to power.  There are three simply professed Cuban friars studying in the Dominican Republic, and there are a number of young men interested in the Franciscan way of life.  The friars live in two fraternities in the capital of Havana.

The Cuban presence is a semi-autonomous delegation of the Arántzazu Province (Spain) since June 2020 and also part of the Custody of Our Lady of Hope (with two other countries: the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico).

Cuba is not the easiest of missionary locations, as attested to by the experience of numerous congregations who have found it difficult to find suitable candidates willing to come and stay for a reasonable period of time. Yet, there is always hope that friars from different entities will feel called to the challenge of this mission. For now, our vocation is one of presence and accompaniment of the people (many of whom have suffered decades of religious intolerance and whose trust need to be regained). Besides parish ministry, we want to get to know the needs of the local church to offer popular missions in the different parts of the country.  One specific dream is to open another presence outside Havana and eventually take back a historically significant presence which still belongs to the Order, where friars over the centuries moved out on missions around the country.

The future of the Franciscan OFM presence in Cuba depends mainly on an increase in local vocations, but there will also be a continued push to promote Cuba as a missionary destination. Anyone reading this article is invited to consider coming to Cuba.  Those interested could request the orientation document aimed to help friars discern this particular vocation by emailing Br. Francisco Gearóid Ó Conaire at gfoconaireofm@gmail.com. The document is available in English, Spanish and Italian.


A Franciscan Friar’s place in the Vatican Museums


Although the Vatican Museums were closed for almost 3 months during the latest lockdown, work still continued within its walls, including that of installing a large multi paneled work (polyptych) by a Franciscan Friar. The work is entitled “Golgotha” and is by Br. Sidival Fila, who is originally from Brazil but who has spent over 25 years in Italy. Br. Sidival is member of the fraternity at St. Bonaventure on the Palatine, Rome, having joined the Order in Italy and having been ordained priest in 1999. He has become a well-known artist, creating beautiful works of art with fabrics, materials, and a variety of sewing techniques, most often using objects and fabrics that have been discarded.

He was the first Religious ever to exhibit at the prestigious Venice Biennale, and it is his work for the Biennale that has now become part of the Vatican’s permanent Collection of Contemporary Art. The Museums have chosen a stunning location for “Golgotha” — The Hall of the Saints in the Borgia Apartment, with its superb 15th century frescoes by the Italian Renaissance artist, Pinturicchio. The contrast, in terms of color, concept, and texture is striking and highly evocative. Br. Sidival explains, “I have placed an ancient crucifix inside a very large work, in which the attention falls precisely on this suspended crucifix. Christ is clearly depicted, but the rest is abstract. Even the two thieves are presented in an abstract way. In reality, the work does not express the passion but the drama of the passion through the use of those objects that made the last earthly stage of Christ’s life so bloody — such as nails and horseshoes. On the other hand, there are floral elements, as if these were the fruit of Christ’s passion.”

My ‘Golgotha’ installation is composed of eight elements, but only one of them presents a figurative sculpture of the Holy Cross. The other 7 elements open the door to spirituality and transcendence, but they are not directly related to a specific religion, they wish only to speak to every creed and to the human heart.”

Our fraternal congratulations to Br. Sidival — this extraordinary recognition and honor is a source of great pride. Perhaps more importantly, it is also a sign of hope and confidence that the depth and beauty of the Christian faith can truly be communicated in contemporary terms that express God’s passionate love for humanity.

See Br. Sidival’s website (in 5 languages): www.sidivalfila.it


Letter from the Holy Father for the 600th anniversary of the establishment of the Commissars of the Holy Land


On the sixth centenary of the establishment of the Commissars of the Holy Land on 14 February 1421, by Pope Martin V, the Holy Father has sent a signed letter to the Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton, to “support and bless this precious service.” Fr. Patton replied to Pope Francis’s message, dated 2 February, the next day, in which he informed the Holy Father of the intention to celebrate a Mass at the Edicule of the Sepulchre in Jerusalem on 15 February at 6.30 in the morning, in memory of all the benefactors and to give thanks for the work of the Commissars. On that occasion, the Custos will read the signed message from the Holy Father and all the friars will offer special prayers for Pope Francis and for His ministry.

“We thank you most sincerely for your words of confirmation and encouragement,” Fr. Patton wrote. “Thank you for your support and for your blessing. We also thank you for all the support you give us through the Congregation for the Oriental Churches and its Prefect, His Eminence Cardinal Leonardo Sandri. Expressing all our gratitude to you, we wish to show you once again our filial affection and our obedience with our most devoted feelings.”

Pope Francis’s  letter is shown below:

The Vatican, 2 February 2021

Dear Brother,

Next 14 February will be the 600th anniversary of the establishment of the Commissars of the Holy Land by Pope Martin V.

After all these centuries, the mission of the Commissars is still topical: to support, promote and develop the mission of the Custody of the Holy Land, making possible a network of ecclesiastical, spiritual and charitable relations that have as their focal point the land where Jesus lived.

I support and bless this precious service and I hope that it can increasingly be a seed of fraternity.

I bless all with my heart and, please do not forget to pray for me.






Fonte: custodia.org

Image: Pope Francis in the Nativity Grotto in Bethlehem, during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2014, © Vatican Media

Congo: 100 Years of Franciscan Presence (1920-2020)


The Congolese friars are celebrating 100 years of Franciscan presence in Congolese territory. Since 1920, missionaries of different nationalities and origins (Belgians, Croatians, Americans, Poles, etc.) have gradually brought the message of St Francis of Assisi to the largest country in Africa, in different periods and contexts, and have implanted the Order there. First the Belgians in 1920 in what was then Katanga, then in Kasai, and later on, in the 1970s, the Croatians in Kivu. From these three centres, Franciscanism later spread to other parts of the country and beyond. Today, one hundred years later, the Democratic Republic of Congo has about 350 local friars in two provinces. From Congo, the friars see themselves called today to “give back the gift of the Gospel” all over the world (Belgium, Bosnia, Canada, Congo Brazzaville, Croatia, France, Guinea, Italy, Morocco, Mozambique, Central African Republic, Senegal, Holy Land, Turkey, United States). The celebration of this centenary of thanksgiving has taken place throughout the year 2020 in the context of the pandemic that has reduced the main activities planned in the various areas to a minimum: solemn opening on 16 February 2020 in Kanzenze, the place of arrival and burial of the first Belgian missionaries. The closing of the centenary will take place next May, in Kolwezi.

Br Pascal Lushuli, OFM

Franciscans International: New Migration Dynamics in Northern Central America, Mexico and the United States


On Friday, 12 February 2021, Franciscans International will launch a new diagnosis on migration in Northern Central America, Mexico and the United States. This work is the result of a close cooperation between Franciscans International and the Red Franciscana Para Migrantes, combing a review of relevant literature with firsthand testimonies from Franciscan shelters in the region.

The diagnosis lays out new trends on migration in Northern Central America, starting with the exodus caravans of 2018 and 2019. It also looks at the dangers faced by migrants and those that work to support them, identifying challenges and opportunities for the future. The report also includes a section looking at the most recent impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Join the webinar hosted by Franciscans International on 12 February at 16:00 (CET) // 10:00 (EST) for a discussion with Franciscans and other experts on migration. Translations will be provided in English and Spanish. The publication and a recording of the event will also be made available on their website afterwards.

Registration at https://bit.ly/FI12feb21


Bishop Aurelio Pesoa OFM appointed Apostolic Vicar of El Beni (Bolivia)


His Holiness Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Aurelio Pesoa OFM, as the new Bishop for the Apostolic Vicariate of El Beni. Bishop Pesoa is the current Auxiliary Bishop of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of La Paz and Secretary General of the Bolivian Bishops’ Conference.

Br. Michael A. Perry, Minister General, congratulates Bishop Aurelio on behalf of the whole Order of Friars Minor and wishes him every success in his new service to the Bolivian Church.

Vatican News: In the footsteps of St Francis to build the way of brotherhood


On 3 February 2021, Vatican News published an article tracing the steps that Pope Francis has taken in the footsteps of Saint Francis of Assisi, who inspired Laudato si’, the Abu Dhabi Declaration and the encyclical Fratelli tutti:

Many of Pope Francis’ steps and gestures are part of a path that begins in Assisi and is clearly discernible from the first days of his pontificate. At the beginning of his Petrine ministry, on 19 March 2013, the Pontiff already indicated the direction that accompanies his magisterium. “The vocation of being a “protector”, however, is not just something involving us Christians alone; it also has a prior dimension which is simply human, involving everyone. It means protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world, as the Book of Genesis tells us and as Saint Francis of Assisi showed us. It means respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live.” On 4 October 2013, on the feast day of Italy’s patron saint, the Pope was in Assisi. “From this City of Peace,” the Holy Father said in his homily in Saint Francis Square, “I repeat with all the strength and the meekness of love: Let us respect creation, let us not be instruments of destruction!” “Let us listen to the cry of all those who are weeping, who are suffering and who are dying because of violence, terrorism or war, in the Holy Land, so dear to Saint Francis, in Syria, throughout the Middle East and everywhere in the world.”


Read the full text by Amedeo Lomonaco (in Italian) at: vaticannews.va



Fratelli Tutti: Friars of Indonesia launch “Year of Fraternity”

The Friars Minor of the Province of St. Michael the Archangel in Indonesia, including the Foundation of East Timor, accepting the invitation in the Holy Father Pope Francis’ latest encyclical Fratelli Tutti, began 2021 as a particular year of fraternity for the whole Province.

Br Mikael Peruhe, the Minister Provincial of 135 solemnly professed friars, in his opening words underlined the importance of the encyclical for the Indonesian Church, encouraging the friars to continue to live it in practice in their communities and in their various forms of pastoral service, but especially as a living witness for those who are sick and abandoned because of Covid-19.

Br Agustinus Nggame, Director of the Office of Spirituality, prepared a booklet, which illustrates pastoral steps to help the friars in every reality and situation.

The year’s song was presented, composed by Br Stanislaus Sukartanto, “Kita Satu Keluarga” (We are One Family), and is available on the Province’s YouTube page.  As a symbol of the year of fraternity, the logo, created by Br Rio Edison, was also presented.

About thirteen communities from the various islands and regions of Indonesia and East Timor made a brief video presentation showing our people’s customs, with shouts, songs, dances, and a little prayer. The missionary friars who are in Thailand, Istanbul and the Holy Land also participated in the link-up.

In the last session, the groups of student friars and novices shared short videos. Every year, the young students (currently 85 friars) usually spend a period of fraternity of about three days in the novitiate house, but this was not possible this year.

We Indonesian friars, carry this meeting in our hearts as a message of hope to be shared with our brothers and sisters.


Br. Andreas Atawolo OFM



Appointment of Br Leonardo Sileo OFM as Rector of the Pontifical Urbaniana University

On 1 January 2021, the Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, confirmed Br Leonardo Sileo OFM’s appointment as Rector of the Pontifical Urbaniana University for the next three years ratifying the election by the Academic Senate and the ordinary and extraordinary professors.

The Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Urbaniana University, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle announced Br. Leonardo’s appointment. He thanked him for the work he had done so far in his first term of office when he had to deal with the difficult situation caused by the pandemic and the reorganisation of teaching following anti-infection measures.

Br. Leonardo began his teaching career in 1986 in the Faculty of Theology of the Pontifical Antonianum Athenaeum. Then, at the Urbaniana from 1998, he became a full professor in 2013 in the Faculty of Philosophy, holding the History of Medieval Philosophy chair. Br. Leonardo served as Director of the Urbaniana University Press. He assumed responsibility for the Quality Office, initiating self-assessment and implementing quality checks according to the Bologna Process’s criteria.

Br. Leonardo belongs to the Province of the Immaculate Conception of the Friars Minor of Salerno (Italy).



Feast of the Franciscan Protomartyrs: Closing of the Extraordinary Jubilee

The eighth centenary (1220-2020) of the Franciscan Protomartyrs’ death, 16 January 2020 – 17 January 2021, focused primarily on St Anthony’s church in Terni (Italy). The Apostolic Penitentiary granted a plenary indulgence for the year. However, one could say that the whole “Way of the Franciscan Protomartyrs” is an open air shrine of the five saintly Friars Minor who, following St Francis’s example, followed in the footsteps of Jesus by living according to the Gospel up to the shedding of their blood.

The centenary programme was well-structured and packed with initiatives, but in January 2020 no one knew that the coronavirus pandemic would soon arrive in Italy, with the consequent lockdown. Thanks to the Narni Lions Club, meetings were planned in Coimbra. The diocesan delegation’s trip to Portugal of eight people – the Bishop Giuseppe Piemontese, the guardian of the Sant’Antonio friary in Terni, Br Danilo Tremolada, some religious and lay people – was cancelled two days before departure. A plaque prepared for the occasion to give to the Bishop of Coimbra is still waiting for more favourable times to be delivered. In this case, as in others, we soon learnt that alongside the martyrdom of blood reserved for some, there is the no less bloody but equally fruitful martyrdom of patience!

While respecting the antivirus norms, liturgies, meetings, pilgrimages, and other events helped us to discover that the martyrs are truly those who have taken on Jesus’s form of life.  A Eucharistic love that passes from gratitude for gifts received to generoisty to the point of giving one’s life for one’s brothers and sisters. Moreover, they testify that love and sacrifice are called to work hand in hand if the former is not to become pure fleeting emotionalism and the latter frustrating activism. When love expresses itself in sacrifice, and sacrifice is moved by love, we are faced – in the words of Dostoevsky – with the beauty that saves the world; thus, we can say that love alone is credible.

Like Brother Francis of Assisi, the Franciscan Protomartyrs went to the land of non-Christians to proclaim the Gospel. Therefore, it is not surprising that the Rule of the Friars Minor is the first to dedicate a section to those who go among the unbelievers.


As the eighth centenary of the Franciscan Protomartyrs’ death draws to a close, the centenary of St Anthony’s arrival in Italy is just beginning.


(The full text is available in Italian at ofm.org)


Br Pietro Messa ofm
Pontifical Antonianum University


“From a minefield to a place of prayer”: the celebration of the Baptism of Jesus returns to the Franciscan church on the River Jordan

On Sunday 10th January 2021, after 54 years and 3 days, the Franciscan friars of the Custody of the Holy Land once again celebrated Mass in the church of St John the Baptist at Qasr Al-Yahud, on the banks of the River Jordan, the Christian site where the Baptism of Jesus is commemorated.

The liturgy started with the procession of the Franciscans who, from the Greek Orthodox monastery of St John, arrived at the Franciscans’ land not far from the banks of the river, where the Holy Mass was celebrated. Before the celebration of the Eucharist, the parish priest of the parish of Jericho, Fr. Mario Hadchity, welcomed the friars and the Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton. “We are delighted, on this special day, that the Custody of the Holy Land, with the help of God, after more than half a century, has been able to return to the Latin church of St John the Baptist,” said Fr. Mario. “May it be a place where all those who enter encounter the grace of God.” After kissing the cross and the incensation, the Custos made his solemn entrance,  personally opening the gates of the site, which had been closed for more than fifty years.

The celebration, presided by the Custos of the Holy Land, was attended by the apostolic nuncio in Israel and Cyprus and apostolic delegate in Jerusalem and Palestine, Mons. Leopoldo Girelli, the Italian Consul-General Giuseppe Fedele, the Spanish Vice-Consul Paloma Serra and  representatives of the Israeli military authorities. In the respect of the regulations due to  Coronavirus, about fifty people were present, divided into groups of ten and distanced from one another.

Read the rest of the story by Giovanni Malaspina at: custodia.org

Photos: Nadim Asfour/CTS


Volunteering in service of migrants and refugees


The Franciscan Network on Migration (RFM) extends a warm invitation to all those who are interested in serving at migrant and refugee shelters associated with our network in Guatemala, Mexico and the United States.

On Christmas Eve, we launched our “Volunteer Campaign 2021.” The application process is open to all people of legal age who speak Spanish at an intermediate level. Applicants should be open to giving their time and have the ability to stay at one of our seven houses. All of our shelters are in need of support and collaboration in order to continue the service they provide daily to migrants and refugees.

Volunteering is an unforgettable and life-changing experience. We are hoping that lay people, men and women religious, priests, students, and workers from different countries will take up this challenge that the present times have laid before us.

The houses and teams of Franciscan Network on Migration need help and volunteers. We ask that you will help us spread the word about this opportunity.

For more information about the current placements and requirements of volunteer service, we invite you to visit our website: https://redfranciscana.org/voluntariado/. Here you will find our application form and a pdf that you can download and share. Once you fill out the form, a representative from your preferred house will contact you.

NOTE: All materials related to volunteering are in Spanish as one of the basic requirements for applicants is an intermediate level of Spanish.

Peace and all good!

Koinonia 2020 – 4 (N.108): Franciscan Economy for Seculars

Franciscan Economy for Seculars


Let us begin our discussion on Franciscan economy by looking at some details of the allegorical painting on Poverty in the Lower Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi. The painting is attributed to Giotto or better known as the School of Giotto and is dated around 1334. The scene is the mystical marriage of Lady Poverty with St. Francis, blessed by Jesus. Francis is depicted here as giving the wedding ring to Lady Poverty. But if you observe clearly you can find that the Lady Poverty is not keeping even the wedding ring for herself, but donate it to the virtue of Hope (Spes). What she receives on her right hand, gives it away with her left hand. She does not reserve anything, even the most intimate thing, for herself.

This is again another particular scene from the allegory of Poverty, where a young man (the young Francis before his conversion) is giving his cloak to a poor man. He is responding positively to the invitation of the angel to participate in the marriage.

And in this image you will find that the dress that the young man gives to the poor is taken by an angel to the hands of God. You see also another angel carrying a house to the same hands. The house is depicted with some agricultural land and a tree, fruit of work. They signify that when the basic needs (food, shelter, work and clothing) are given to the poor, they go to God.

Keeping these three images in mind let us begin our discussion on “Franciscan Economy for Seculars”. The objective of our study is to pay attention to the relational dimension of our economic and social life in which the human person is respected in his/her dignity. Our attention is limited to view how a secular Franciscan can respond to the challenges of the present economic crisis, aggravated by the pandemic of Covid-19, which has paralyzed greater part of economic activities around the world.


  • Koinonia 2020-4“Franciscan Economy for Seculars”– Fr. Alfred Parambakathu OFMConv

N. 108

PDF: EnglishItalianoEspañolFrançais

DOC : EnglishItalianoEspañolFrançais


In Memory of Bishop Ruben Tierrablanca González

On December 21st, 2020, our brother Ruben Tierrablanca González, Bishop of Istanbul, died in the hospital in Istanbul weeks after having contracted CoVid-19. He had been in a medically induced coma and on a ventilator for the past two weeks.

A member of the Province of St. Peter and Paul in Mexico, Rubén was born on August 24, 1952 in Cortázar, Celaya, Mexico. He made solemn vows in 1977 and was ordained a priest the following year. In 1985 he completed studies for a Licentiate in Sacred Scripture at the Pontifical Biblical Institute (Rome) and was ordained bishop in 2016.

After teaching Old Testament studies in El Paso, Texas, and serving as Provincial Definitor, and Secretary of Formation for his Province, Rubén returned to the Antonianum where he served as Rector of students. Immediately afterwards, he was appointed Guardian of the General Curia where he was known for his care of the friars and especially for his love of music.

His commitment to ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue led him to volunteer for a new mission of the Order in Istanbul, to promote encounter and dialogue among the Christian churches, with Islam, and with different cultures. From 2003-2015, he served as Guardian in Istanbul and Coordinator for the presence of the Order in Turkey. Not only did he actively promote dialogue, he also served as Parish Priest at Saint Marie Draperis parish in Istanbul, and on various commissions in the Apostolic Vicariate of Istanbul. In 2016, he moved to Izmir to serve at the Franciscan parish and on April 4, 2016, he was appointed Apostolic Vicar of Istanbul.

On the feast of St. Andrew, November 30, 2020, already weakened by CoVid19, Bishop Rubén addressed a letter to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople of the Eastern Orthodox Church, His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew, asking forgiveness if in any way over the course of service as friar, pastor, teacher, or bishop he might have said or done something to offend his Holiness or members of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

The Minister General, Br. Michael A. Perry, inviting all the friars of the Order to remember Bishop Rubén at Mass and in their prayers, writes:

May his example of humble, gentle service and zeal for promoting dialogue and universal fraternity among all men and women inspire and challenge all of us to follow his example. Pope Francis, in his encyclical Fratelli Tutti, on Fraternity and Social Friendship, writes the following words, which, I believe, express the spirit that animated our dearly departed Brother Mgr. Rubén:  “[St. Francis] understood that ‘God is love and those who abide in love abide in God’ (1 Jn. 4 :16). In this way, he became a father to all and inspired the vision of a fraternal society. Indeed, ‘only the man who approaches others, not to draw them into his life, but to help them become ever more fully themselves, can truly be called a father’. “

May our dear brother Rubén Tierrablanca González rest in eternal peace.