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Visit of the Minister General to the St Francis Province of Quito, Ecuador

From 7th to 11th April 2019, Br. Michael Anthony Perry visited the Province of St Francis of Quito accompanied by Br Valmir Ramos, Area Definitor. The visit began in Quito, where the Minister General was received by the brothers of the Province and met with them in the St Francis Friary.

On Sunday, the 7th Minister General presided at Mass in the Basilica of St Francis where the local community filled the Church with great devotion. In the morning, Br. Michael met the Archbishop of Guayaquil, Bishop Luis Cabrera Herrera.

Monday was a day of celebration for the Provincial Fraternity with the solemn profession of 4 brothers. Br Michael presided over the ceremony and received their vows. In the morning he met with the Provincial Definitory listening and discussing the Order’s outlook with its challenges for the future. The Minister then met the brothers of the North, of the Centre and the Ecuadorian Coast. In the afternoon, still in Quito, he met with the Franciscan Family in the Church of St Francis. Br. Michael also discussed and listened to the concerns of the brothers and sisters who want to grow in the Franciscan spirit. The same day, the Archbishop of Quito, Fausto Gabriel Trávez Trávez, OFM, attended the luncheon.

On the 9th Br. Michael met the brothers of the South-East zone and Coast in Azogues, in the friary of Our Lady of the Cloud. Arriving very early, he was received by the students of the Franciscan College and by the faithful of the local Church. In the afternoon he met the Poor Clares Sisters and Conceptionist Sisters from the area, in the Monastery of St Clare, and he shared the joys and challenges of the Order in the world with them.

The last stage of the visit was to the Vicariate of Galápagos, in Santa Cruz Island, in the house of the missionaries of the Province. The Bishop, Patricio Bonilla, OFM, also participated and celebrated with representatives of the various parish groups.

On the evening of the 11th, in Quito, there was an opportunity for a brief meeting with the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Andrés Carrascosa Coso, who spoke about his esteem for the Franciscan Order and its concerns.

In Memoriam: Br. Alberto Montealegre Gonzalez(1923-2019)

On Friday, 12th April 2019, in the Colombian city of Itagui, Br. Alberto Montealegre González OFM, member of the Franciscan Province of Santa Fe, in Colombia died at the age of 95.

Br. Alberto was born on June 21, 1923, in Florida-Valle del Cauca-Colombia. He entered the Order of Friars Minor in 1940, professed in 1941, and ordained a priest in 1948. Br. Alberto was a Doctor of Pedagogical Sciences at the Catholic University of Leuven. He was Professor and Rector of the Pedagogical International Institute of Rome-Grottaferrata. He was both Definitor and Vicar Provincial of his Entity, Definitor General of the Order (1965-1967), Secretary of the General Chapters of Assisi (1967) and Madrid (1973); peritusduring the General Chapter of the Order held in Medellín, Colombia (1971), Visitator General of 9 Entities of the Order. He was Founder of St. Bonaventure University in Cali and Cartagena de Indias (Colombia), Rector of the University of St. Bonaventure in Colombia, Rector of St. Bonaventure University with headquarters in Bogota and the local section of Cartagena de Indias, and member of the International Commission for the Antonianum Pontifical University in Rome (1999-2000). Since 2013 he lived in the Provincial retirement home in Itagüí (Ant).

We express our deepest condolences to the brothers of the Province of Santa Fe as well as to the members of the Montealegre family.

The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord | Easter Letter of the Minister General 2019

The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord

[Jn 20:19-31]


Easter Letter of the Minister General 2019


Dear brothers,

May the Lord give you peace!

This year I would like to share with all of you a message inthe context of the celebrations of 800 years of the encounter between Francis of Assisi and the Sultan of Egypt al-Malik al-Kamil. This commemoration has offered the Church and the Order an extraordinary opportunity to reflect on and study the topic of open and respectful dialogue with Islam and, of course, with other religious faiths.

I want to invite you to experience the mystery of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Lord considering this event based on what I wrote last 7th January in a letter to the entire Order about this important anniversary. It urges us to abandon fear and literally open the doors of our mind, allowing God to operate in an unprecedented way in the hearts of men and women of good will who fight without distinction to promote social justice, moral good, peace and freedom to the benefit of all (cf. Nostra Aetate 3).

Allow me, then, to look at a gospel passage that we will hear on the second Sunday of Easter. It is one of the appearances of the risen Jesus not only to a few but to all the disciples gathered in the upper room “on the evening of that day, the first of the week,” according to St John’s account (cf. Jn 20:19-31). This passage tells of two appearances separated by eight days. I think that these two moments will help us to establish a context to understand better a progression in the faith not only of Thomas but of all the disciples who have the privilege of contemplating the presence of the risen Jesus with their own eyes.


First appearance:

The doors of the house were locked for fear of the Jews.

The text begins with the expression: “when it was evening on that day.” This phrase is not there by chance but is part of the narrative style of the evangelist, who likes to present natural scenarios of contrast. In this case, we can imagine a room without much light, where it becomes difficult to even recognise the faces of others, even those closest. This expression could represent uncertainty, discouragement and, consequently, the fear faced by those gathered together. Fear of the future, of the different, of risk, of change, perhaps thinking that something might be lost and, therefore, they have the “doors locked tightly.” The feeling of the disciples is quite understandable, having seen what happened to Jesus on the cross. Maybe they need time to assimilate, or something to stimulate their desire to be freed, to go out, to seek the light, the desire to transform that first day of the week that is ending, into a prolonged thanks for a new hope that they cannot yet see. The sign of the closed doors represents a very human situation to protect the few securities that they have as well as their very selves.


Jesus came and stood among them.

Without going into theological or exegetical debates about Jesus’s appearance, passing through the walls with a body of unique characteristics, I think instead about Jesus’s power to “enter” that place despite finding the doors closed. In this, as in so many other episodes, we see the narrative strategy of a changed situation, characterised by a transformation of circumstances, generally the result of divine initiative. In our text, after Jesus speaks the words: peace be with you, and having shown them his hands and his side, the gospel emphasises that the sadness and fear that overwhelmed them was transformed into joy when they saw the Lord (v. 20). The text is so splendid that it shows a kind of roadmap for someone setting out on the adventure of faith. Jesus could have chosen a different occasion to appear and even other circumstances. However, he chose a moment characterised by the apostles’ fear and the absence of one of their number, Thomas. He will be one of the central characters of the passage, and I would like to pause for a moment to consider Thomas while we examine the second appearance.


Second appearance:

 Eight days pass! Why did he let so many days pass? Why not remove all doubt in the shortest time possible to dispel Thomas’s uncertainty when he heard: we have seen the Lord? The name Thomas means twin brother. Didymus is a Greek word that the evangelist used to translate the Aramaic Ta’oma’. Behind this translation game, as the fourth gospel frequently shows, there is a theological purpose. Didymus means twin. The twin is a double; he is one that resembles another and, in the text, Thomas plays a role marked by two moments: he is dominated by doubt that he later resolves when he meets the Lord and is at the same time our twin because he represents us directly in the story. It is he who can meet the risen Lord on our behalf face to face after an episode of disbelief, making the highest profession of faith that the Gospel of John could record: My Lord and my God. Thomas has seen and touched the wounds of Jesus. The text speaks of the sign of the nails; the risen one has a body marked by a story of pain and death. So, Thomas is our twin, he touches the wounds on the body and recognises not only that he is a healthy man, but that he is also God in person.

A history of pain and death that is repeated whenever human beings are unable to recognise the differences and richness of diversity. A history marked by a dominant mindset that has used the name of God to reaffirm itself and believe itself the repository of the absolute truth about God, even attacking and killing to defend a doctrinal position. That was the dramatic scenario of the Middle Ages in confrontation with the Islamic religion, and sadly we see this even today in some countries where minorities are not well regarded.


Let us listen to our Holy Father Francis.

Probably many think that a reflection of this nature, or the significant approaches that the Church and Pope Francis have made, do not correspond to the harsh reality that still exists today in countries where Christians and Muslims live together. There are those who think that talking about dialogue or demonstrating openness to an eventual encounter is a sign of weakness and a lack of reaffirming our identity. Pope Francis has been harshly criticised in certain parts of the Church for his gestures of openness towards other faiths, saying that this weakens the image and reputation of the Church and Christians in general.

Regarding such opinions, I would merely like to affirm that a simple gesture of union and openness turns out to be more powerful, eloquent, effective and prophetic than the desire for self-promotion often based on self-centeredness.

Speaking recently about his trip to Morocco, the Holy Father affirmed that there is no need to be frightened by the differences between the different religions but what should scare us is the lack of fraternity between the different faiths (General Audience, 3 April, St Peter’s Square). As you all know, the Holy Father wanted to join actively in the celebration of the eighth centenary of the encounter between Francis and Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil, and this trip, as well as that to the United Arab Emirates, is a clear example of this. The powerful call for dialogue and the building of an open, plural and supportive society, as well as the response we must give to the severe migration crisis were issues that he placed at the heart of his message. The Pope made an energetic call to walk a path together to help us overcome tensions and misunderstandings by opening ourselves to a spirit of fruitful and respectful collaboration. (Cf. Address of the Holy Father: meeting with the Moroccan people, the authorities, civil society and the diplomatic corps, 30 March 2019)

I would like, therefore, my beloved brothers, to invite you to experience Easter this year in the light of this notable event. It is true that an option such as that proposed by the Pope may represent a certain risk and may generate fear and uncertainty; something like what the apostles experienced in the upper room behind closed doors. However, the Pontiff encourages us in his encyclical: “I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security” (EG 49). I dare to make this invitation to all my brothers of the Order, to my beloved Poor Clare and Conceptionist sisters and to all men and women of good will who are close to the spirituality of the Saint of Assisi. Let us go forth, let us go to meet what is different, let us open the doors so that new air may enter, the breath of the Spirit (cf. Jn 20:22) who wants to open our eyes to a reality that is new and also fascinating. Do not think that this is a sign of weakness or rejection of our convictions; instead, believe that a world as plural as ours has urgent need of eloquent and prophetic signs that invite people to a healthy and civilised coexistence.

The poor man of Assisi was a sign for his time and remains so after eight centuries. I think we cannot be content with the idea of commemorating an event like this if our heart does not open to the experience of the other. Living the Passover this year will mean following the proposed itinerary of John’s Gospel. Without ignoring the trepidation and the desire to lock doors out of fear, it tells us how the event of the resurrection of Christ can transform our sadness into joy (cf. Jn 16:16) and our fear into courage to profess in word and with our lives, that Jesus has risen and that he is our Lord and our God (cf. Jn 20:28).

I wish you all a blessed and Happy Easter!


Rome, 14 April 2019
Palm Sunday

Br. Michael Anthony Perry, OFM
Minister General and Servant



Download PDF: [English] The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord [Español] Los discípulos se alegraron al ver al Señor [Français] Les disciples se réjouirent en voyant le Seigneur [Hrvatski] Učenici se obradovaše vidjevši Gospodina [Italiano] I discepoli gioirono al vedere il Signore [Português] Os discípulos alegraram-se ao ver o Senhor [Deutsch]  [Polski]




Artwork: Raphael, The Resurrection of Christ,1499-1502. Oil on wood, 56,5×47cm. Collection: Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand. Gift: Walther Moreira Salles and Elisa Moreira Salles, Leão Gondim de Oliveira, Hélio Muniz de Souza, Gastão Bueno Vidigal Filho, Francisco Matarazzo Sobrinho, João di Pietro, Brasílio Machado Neto and Diários e Emissoras Associados,1958. MASP.00017. Photo: João Musa

Praying the Stations of the Cross

The Lenten devotion of praying the Way of the Cross put us in Jesus’ footsteps during his last hours on earth, says Fr. Clifford Hennings, OFM in this video.

In Catholic churches all around the world, and especially in Franciscan churches, Lent is a time in which we walk the Stations of the cross. That’s what we do in preparation for Holy Week, and maybe for some of us it’s just so ingrained in what we do for Lent that we never really sit back and think, Well, what does is all about? And where does it come from?

I mean, historically speaking, the Franciscans have a lot to do with how it became a cultural practice within the Church, to do this.

And predating the practice of Walking the Stations in the church, or maybe outside in a garden, predating that, people often actually went to the Holy Land, and millions of people still do to this day.

I think it reflects the sense that our faith isn’t just something that we think about, and our spirit isn’t something that is totally just in our hearts; but that we are physical beings that long to express our faith in physical ways.

It’s why we want to go to the Holy Land. We want to see where Jesus wept in the garden. We want to see the place where he was crucified. And we want to touch the place where he was buried.

It’s a part of who we are that just says, we may love a family member, we want to hug them and we miss their [voice, but] even talking on the phone doesn’t quite cut it. We want them to be here. And even just looking at a picture sometimes can be a lot more impactful on us than just thinking about them.

And so I think when we’re in the Lenten season and we’re recalling what Jesus has done for us, acting it out, walking the steps as a community helps put us in the physical presence a little bit more deeply. And the story of what Jesus has done for us becomes a little bit more real, and we can almost see it.

And so I think that’s why the practice of the Stations of the Cross is so important throughout the generations. Because even if times have changed, the fact that we are physical human beings who know what it is to suffer…we know what it is to fall down! We know what it is to have our friends leave us behind when we’re going through a hard time! And when we walk through that story, we can relate and put ourselves in that place with Jesus. Which in turn maybe makes him a little bit closer to us, in our experience.

The Spirit of Dialogue in Southern Philippines

The Custody of St. Anthony of Padua in the Philippines is one with the Church and the Order in celebrating the 8th centenary of the meeting of St. Francis and Sultan Al-Malik Al-Kamil. One of the highlights of the series of year-long activities is the interfaith forum held on April 2, 2019 in Tairan (Basilan) at San Roque Parish, a vibrant multi-ethnic and multi-religious community, administered by the Franciscans.

The main talks were given by two scholars in the field of dialogue: Br. Antonio Rosales, OFM and Ustad Garson Hamja.  Br. Antonio narrated the encounter between the Sultan and the Saint from the Christian perspective and how it influenced the paradigm of mission as dialogue. Ustad Hamha gave a brief biography of Sultan Al-Malik Al-Kamil and the traits that made him beloved by his subjects and Christians alike.

The forum was attended by the local Christian laity, friars of the Custody, members of the Order of Secular Franciscans, local clergy and students. From the Muslim community, many of its members, leaders and local politicians were present.

The gathering was enriched by other activities including interpretative dances of the Muslim and Christian youth, a photo-exhibit featuring the chronology of the Franciscan presence in Mindanao and the unveiling of the commemorative mural of the encounter.

Minister General’s visit to Peru

Missionary Province of St Francis Solanus, Lima

Br Michael Anthony Perry visited the Province of St Francis Solanus in Peru from 26th to 29th March 2019, accompanied by Br Valmir Ramos, Area Definitor. The visit began in Lima, where the Minister General was received by the brothers of the Province and met with them in the Friary of the Discalced.

The Minister General met the brothers of the Provincial Definitory. He reflected with the guardians on their role in accompanying the friars, especially the younger ones.

He met with the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Nicola Girasoli, who had previously been at the Friary of the Discalced for a luncheon with the Minister General and all the friars of the St Francis Solanus Missionary Province. Another meeting was held with the Archbishop of Lima, Carlos Castillo Mattasoglio, who had only been appointed a few months ago, but knew the Franciscans from his youth.

Other meetings took place with the laity of the parishes and the educational and health services (there are five educational and five health care services with thousands of patients each day).


Province of the Twelve Apostles, Lima

Br Michael Perry arrived at the St Francis of Assisi Friary on the night of the 30th. He met with the Poor Clare Sisters and Conceptionist Sisters of Lima. He had a meeting with the Franciscan Family and celebrated the Eucharist followed by a fraternal sharing at the end of the day.

The Minister General met the brothers of the Provincial Definitory as he had already done in the Province of St Francis Solanus, and later met with the solemnly professed friars of the Province.

Being in the St Francis Friary in Lima, on the 1stApril he met with all the temporary professed friars of the two Provinces of Peru and listened to their joys, difficulties and hopes. On 2ndApril, there was a meeting with the formators of the two Provinces and another with the Definitors of the two Provinces. They were significant meetings of fraternity and an excellent opportunity to share joys and hopes for Franciscan life in Peru. Br Michael insisted on interprovincial collaboration in the field of Initial and Ongoing Formation, including a common program for the candidates of the two provinces.


To the missionary Brothers in the Peruvian jungle

On 4th April, Br Michael had a meeting in Iquitos, PE, with the Bishops of the Vicariates of Peru, Br Anton Žerdín Bukovec (San Ramón), Br Juan Oliver (Requena) and Bishop Javier Travieso (São José) and the missionary friars in the Peruvian Amazon.

The meeting was attended by the Ministers Provincial of Peru, Br Alejandro Wiesse (St Francis Solanus Missionary Province) and Br Nicolás Ojeda Nieves (Province of the Twelve Apostles) along with the respective Secretaries of Mission and Evangelisation of the two Provinces.

It was also an opportunity for a meeting with the missionary brothers of the Amazon Project fraternity living in Caballococha, PE, in the territory of the Vicariate of San José with their Bishop Javier Travieso.

King Abdullah II of Jordan receives the Lamp of Peace Award in Assisi

On 29th March 2019 at the Basilica of St. Francis, in Assisi, Italy, His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan was awarded the ‘Lamp of Peace’ for his efforts in human rights, peace-building, and inter-religious dialogue.

During the award ceremony, the King offered the following remarks:

To me, the Lamp of Peace of Saint Francis symbolises how peace lights our way forward to a better future for all people, of every faith and country and community.

But it is our task to provide the fuel for that light, and what fuels global peace is mutual respect and understanding.

This is why it is so meaningful to me, to be passed the Lamp of Peace by one who has done so much to advance understanding and respect among peoples—my dear friend, Chancellor Merkel.

It is only by combining our efforts that humanity will meet today’s serious challenges—to solve global crises; heal our earth’s environment; and include everyone, especially our youth, in opportunity and hope.

Saint Francis, whose shrine is at this Basilica, is known throughout the world for his compassion toward every person and all living things. Such love is an important guide for us today. The people of the world do not have to be the same in order to have the same concerns, share the same needs, or hope the same hopes. To reach a better future, we must find a common path.

In the Holy Quran, God says:

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful,

“People! We created you from a single pair of male and female and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other. The most honoured of you in the sight of God is the most righteous of you.” (49:13)

Today, for the world’s people to know each other, we need real dialogue. That means speaking honestly, listening carefully, and acting on the positive values we all share.


Read the full text of the speech here: kingabdullah.jo/en/speeches/during-lamp-peace-award-ceremony-assisi


Text of speech: All Rights Reserved © 2001-2019, Royal Hashemite Court

Photo: Andrea Cova – sanfrancesco.org

The Continental Congress of Formation in Africa

The Continental Congress of Formation in Africa is held from 31 March to 7 April 2019. It is the fifth in a series of six Congresses organized by the General Secretariat for Formation and Studies beginning in 2017.  It involves formators of the various conferences of our Order present in the different continents. The African Congress, hosted in Abidjan (Ivory Coast), is attended by almost thirty formators from the different Entities present in Africa. These congresses, mandated by the 2015 General Chapter, deal with the theme of accompaniment in fraternal life, with particular attention to the formation of Guardians and vocations animation. At the end of the gathering, the participants approve a short text that summarizes the ideas that emerge from the Congress. The fraternal welcome of the friars of the Province of the Incarnate Word, in whose territory the Congress takes place, and the warmth of African culture joyfully accompanied the stay of all the participants.

Commission for Dialogue Meets in Istanbul

he Commission for Dialogue held its annual meeting from 4-8 March 2019, at Santa Maria Draperis Friary in Istanbul, home of the Fraternity for Dialogue. In attendance were,

  • Russel Murray (General Curia, Rome), President.
  • Michael Calabria (Holy Name Province, USA).
  • Alberto Pari (Custody of the Holy Land).
  • Apollinaire Bahinde (Fraternity for Dialogue).
  • James Puglisi, SA (Centro Pro Unione).
  • John Wong (Custody of Singapore-Malaysia-Brunei).
  • Iko Skoko (Province of Mostar).
  • Dr. Lia Giovanazzi Beltrami (Aurora Vision).
  • Pradeep Kalliath (Province of India).
  • Riccardo Burigana (Istituto dei Studi Ecumenici).


The Commission reviewed the previous year’s commitments and established new commitments. Of particular note are the following items,

  • The Commission’s new website is nearing completion. It will make available online resources for the formation in ecumenical and interreligious dialogue.
  • The Commission received positive responses to its greetings to the world’s Muslims (Ramadan), Buddhists (Vesak) and Hindus (Diwali). This practice will continue. We will also greeting our Jewish sisters and brothers at Rosh Hashana.
  • The first International Buddhist-Franciscan Encounter took place at Plum Village in Thailand. More such encounters will follow.
  • The Commission will assist the Fraternity for Dialogue in advertising its annual Course in Dialogue.
  • The Commission’s work on an ecumenical project to combat Human Trafficking will launch Advent 2019.


The Commission endorsed the program of the Special Commission for Dialogue with Islam to mark the 800th anniversary of the Damietta Encounter. The program was presented by Br. Michael, President of the Special Commission. It included,

  • The special Intercessions for the Liturgy of the Hours, which were published online in January.
  • An online formation resource to be published online in April.
  • A special gathering of Brothers engaged in dialogue with Islam in October.


In keeping with its mission to promote local initiatives, the Commission met several dialogue partners of the Fraternity for Dialogue. Of special note was its reception by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew, a beloved friend of the Fraternity since its founding.

The Commission was also warmly received by the Apostolic Administrator of Istanbul, Bishop Ruben Tierrablanca, OFM, a founding member of the Fraternity for Dialogue, who shared his rich experiences in the service of dialogue.

The Commission thanks the Fraternity for Dialogue and its Guardian, Br. Eleuthere Makuta, for their generous hospitality. The Commission encourages all Brothers to take advantage of the Fraternity’s expertise to design formation programs for dialogue.

The Road to Emmaus: Inter-obediential Ongoing Formation in the Holy Land

“The Road to Emmaus” is a course of ongoing formation, experienced in the context of the Holy Land, organised and coordinated by the inter-obediential fraternity of Emmaus, in collaboration with the Custody of the Holy Land, with the “Studium Biblicum Franciscanum” of Jerusalem and with the General Curias OFM and OFM Conv.

The course is offered to OFM and OFM Conv. friars, with over ten years of solemn profession, eager to discover the joy of the encounter with the Risen One and the enthusiasm to witness to his love, following the Gospel story of the disciples of Emmaus (cf. Luke 24:30 ff.). It consists of five weeks of an intense experience of reflection, fraternal sharing and pilgrimages to the holy places of the Holy Land, a true journey in the footsteps of Jesus’ disciples.

The program, carried out in Italian, will take place in the convent of St. Cleopas in Emmaus-Qubeibeh, from 28th September to 3rd November 2019. A second course in English is also being planned for dates yet to be established.

The number of participants is limited to a maximum of 12 friars (6 friars per family). They should send their applications as soon as possible and no later than 15th July 2019. The participation of each friar will be confirmed by his own General Curia by 31st July.

Thanks to a special subsidy from the respective General Curias, the cost of participating in the course will be approximately €1,300.00 per person. Each participant must provide for airline tickets and a visa for Israel.

Applications must be sent to respective Vicars General or General Secretariats to the following email addresses:

For OFM: vicgen@ofm.org or secgen@ofm.org;
For OFM Conv.: vicgen@ofmconv.net or segrgen@ofmconv.net


Wishing you a valuable experience of the Road to Emmaus we greet you fraternally.

Br. Julio César Bunader
Vic. Gen. OFM

Br. Jerzy Norel
Vic. Gen. OFM Conv.


For more information, download the Program and the Letter (PDF in Italian)

Image: Easter Monday 2006 in Emmaus Qubeibeh © Enrique Bermejo/CTS

Franciscans International begins 30th Anniversary Celebrations

2019 marks Franciscans International’s 30th anniversary and it is being celebrated in three phases: in Geneva (March), in Rome and Assisi (July) and in New York (November).

Minister General, Br. Michael A. Perry, was present at the Geneva event.  At the Mass on 16th March 2019, he shared the following words in his homily:

Following the example of St. Francis of Assisi, Franciscans International began 30 years ago as a concrete response of Franciscan men and women, religious and lay, who had witnessed firsthand the consequences of social exclusion, violence, abuse of fundamental human rights. These same Franciscans also recognized that violence leaves no one unscathed: oppressed and oppressor alike. Recognizing the potential for collaboration between the core elements of Franciscan spirituality and its vision of the human person and the natural environment, and the core values enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, FI has worked tirelessly to promote a constant dialogue between spiritual and humanistic values seeking strategic areas for joining forces, thus forging bonds of cooperation for the advancement of all peoples and protection of our endangered planet.

The words of the Gospel writer, “love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you,” (cf. Mt. 5:44-45) are as relevant today as ever to the mission of Franciscans International, and even to that of the United Nations. They challenge all those who believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, all who self-identify as people of faith, to enter into the ‘fray’ of the human struggle for life, peace, security, dignity, fundamental rights, and the promotion of a world where all peoples might share in the fruits of the earth. These are not words referring to some unattainable utopian dream having nothing to do with the reality of human existence, its inequalities, its sufferings. Rather, they are prophetic words declaring to all peoples in every age the true destiny of all of human life, human societies, and the natural environment.

Franciscans International (FI) is a non-profit, international non-governmental human rights organisation established in 1989. Its staff consists of professionals of diverse backgrounds working to translate grassroots voices in human rights advocacy action at the United Nations level. Franciscans International seeks to promote and protect human rights and environmental justice. 


Communique from the General Definitory – Tempo Forte of March 2019

On 11 March 2019, the Tempo Forte of the General Definitory began, with the customary sharing of activities in which they had been engaged since the conclusion of the previous Tempo Forte. The meeting went on to examine the situation of some of the Entities, and in particular the Custody of Saint Francis in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands with the presence and help of Br. Paul SMITH, General Delegate, and Br. Gianni GATTEI, Custos, to examine their future prospects for life and mission.

Several scholarships were renewed, and some new ones were granted.

There was an opportunity for sharing the activities of the General Secretariat for Formation and Studies and that of Missions and Evangelisation, as well as of the Animators of the Office of JPIC. The General Procurator presented his Report on the activities carried out in 2018, while the General Treasurer submitted the final Balance of the General Curia for the year 2018 for examination and approval by the General Definitory.

Some aspects of the establishment of a Foundation for development and fundraising were clarified.

Br. Sergio GALDI D’ARAGONA of the Custody of the Holy Land, was elected Secretary of the next General Chapter, which will take place in 2021.

The project for a radical renewal of the Database of the General Curia, for which Br. Pasquale BERARDINETTI, Director of the Office of General Protocol and Head of the publication of our magazine Acta Ordinis is responsible is being studied.

The Fidelity and Perseverance Commission presented the final draft of the Document: Forsaking our Vocation or Remaining Faithful which attempts to take stock of the situation of departures from the Order and to recommend steps that enable us to live our charismatic identity better.

Another useful document in preparation is the Handbook for Guardians. Br. Cesare VAIANI and Br. Siniša BALAJIC, of the General Secretariat for Formation and Studies, are working on this.

Br. Witosław SZTYK, president of the Preparatory Commission for the Under 10 Chapter of Mats Taizé-2019, gave an update on the work to date and received approval from the General Definitory for the next steps in finalising the event’s preparation.

Br. Julio César BUNADER, Vicar General, gave an update on the preparatory phase of the Chapter of Mats for the Friars of the Houses in Rome dependant on the Minister General which will take place in Rome 15-16 November 2019. In addition, he presented for the Definitory’s evaluation the Ongoing Formation Program that the Interobediential Fraternity of Emmaus, in the Holy Land, has developed and intends to offer to interested Friars; more detailed information will be provided as soon as possible.

Acts of Capitular Elections were ratified including:

Province of St. Paul the Apostle, in Colombia (Santa Rosa de Cabal), whose new government is composed as follows:

Minister Provincial: Br. Nelson TOVAR ALARCÓN,
Vicar: Br. Félix A. JURADO BASANTE,
Definitors: Br. Juan Bautista ANGULO, Br. Jesús Armando GOMEZ; Br. Domingo Nicolás BURBANO and Br. Edgar SANTOS BALLESTEROS.

Province of the Immaculate Conception of BVM, in Brazil (São Paulo), whose new government is composed as follows:

Minister Provincial: Br. César KÜLKAMP,
Vicar: Br. Gustavo WAYAND MEDELLA,
Definitors: Br. João Francisco DA SILVA, Br. Paulo Roberto PEREIRA, Br. João MANNES, Br. Daniel DELLANDREA; Br. Alexander Magno CORDEIRO DA SILVA and Br. Mário Luiz TAGLIARI.

Province of Our Lady of the Assumption, in Brazil (Bacabal), whose new government is composed as follows:

Minister Provincial: Br. Antônio PACHECO RAMOS,
Vicar: Br. Miguel KLEINHANS,
Definitors: Br. James CARNEIRO DE SÁ Álencar, Br. Ivaldo Evangelista MENDONÇA, Br. João Paulo ANDRADE MOREIRA, and Br. Cristovão Jackson DOS SANTOS MELO.

Province of Blessed Junipero Serra, in Mexico (Tijuana), whose new government is composed as follows:

Minister Provincial: Br. Fredy GÁLVEZ ANGULO,
Vicar: Br. Miguel Ángel HERNÁNDEZ VENEGAS,
Definitors: Br. Francisco Javier BAVICHE GUTIERREZ, Br. José Curz BERNAL ANTE, Br. José Antonio QUIRINO RAMIREZ, Br. Carlos Antonio MINJARES HINOJOSA, and Br. Felipe de Jesús SANTIAGO ORTEGA.

Province of St Casimir, in Lithuania, whose new definitors are: Br. Evaldas DARULIS, Br. Astijus KUNGYS, Br. Gediminas NUMGAUDIS and Br. Paulinus Saulius BYTAUTAS.

The Reports at the Conclusion of Canonical Visitation of the first four of the above Provinces, presented by the respective General Visitators were submitted and discussed.


Lists of candidates were approved for service as:

  • Minister Provincial:
    • Saint Jerome, in Croatia (Zara);
    • Most Holy Name of Jesus, in Italy (Sicily);
    • Assumption BVM, in Italy (Lecce);
    • Santiago de Compostela, in Spain;
    • Saint Stephen King, in Romania-Transylvania.
  • Custos:
    • Holy Protomartyrs, in Morocco;
    • Saint Anthony of Padua, in the Philippines;
    • Saint Francis of Assisi, in China.


The following were elected Visitators General:

  • Domagoj RUNJE, for the Province of Saints Cyril and Methodius, in Croatia (Zagreb);
  • Francisco GÓMEZ VARGAS, for the Province of SaintsFrancis and James, in Mexico (Zapopan);
  • Enrique MUÑOZ GUTIÉRREZ, for the Province of Our Lady of Guadalupe, in Central America and Panama;
  • Marko GONGALO, for the Foundation of Saint Francis of Assisi, in Russia, dependent on the Minister General.


The following requests were addressed:

  • dismissal from the Order (1);
  • dispensation from celibacy and the obligations of the clerical state (6);
  • secularisation pure et simpliciter (1);
  • secularisation ad experimentum (2);
  • dispensation from solemn vows (3);
  • exclaustration for one year (1);
  • dispensation from temporary vows (1).


The next Tempo Forte will take place from 13 to 24 May 2019. It will include the meeting of the Minister and Definitory General with Conference Presidents and the Custos of the Holy Land from 21 to 24 May.

To the praise of Christ and the Poverello of Assisi. Amen!


Rome, 26 March 2019


Br. Giovanni Rinaldi, OFM
Secretary General

Christian presence in Morocco, Living Together | A tribute to the 800 years of Franciscan presence in Morocco

On 20th March 2019, a few days before Pope Francis’s apostolic visit to Morocco, an exhibition entitled: “Christian Presence in Morocco: Living Together” was opened. It was organised by the National Archive and is under the patronage of His Majesty Mohamed VI. The director of the National Archive M. Jamaa Baida has been working for more than a year to bring this initiative to life. Many different aspects have enriched the exhibition: the Archives of the Franciscan Friars who celebrate 800 years of presence in Morocco, the encounter with the Muslim people and the selfless service of the friars to all who were in these lands for various reasons (Christian prisoners, business people, the indigenous poor, people on the move, migrants, etc.). The Custos, Br. Manuel Corullón thanked the National Archive for the initiative and expressed his immense joy at the presence of eight centuries of so many brothers who left a profound mark in the Church, in the Franciscan Order and Muslim Society. The audience included the brothers of the Custody of the Franciscan Protomartyrs of Morocco, the Christian community (Catholics, Orthodox and Evangelicals) and a large turnout of Moroccan people with the heads of the Ministry of Culture and Religious Affairs.

The House of the Child in Bethlehem and the fruits of a mission accomplished with love

The collection made in all the churches of the world on Good Friday, also called “Collection for the Holy Land,” was born to respond to the need to look for material aid in favors of the Holy Land.

The offerings collected by the parishes and the Bishops are sent by the Commissars of the Holy Land to the Custody of the Holy Land. These offerings are used for the maintenance of the Holy Places and the Christians of the Holy Land.

One of the fruits of this collection is the House of the Child in Bethlehem, a house that welcomes children with difficult family conditions. Founded in 2007, it has the special support of the Custody of the Holy Land through the American Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land.  Check the video to learn more about this mission.

The Custody, thanks to the collect of the offerings is able to sustain and continue its important mission and vocation: to keep custody of the Holy Places, the stones of memory and preserve the Christian presence, the living stones of the Holy Land trough many solidarity activities.

Br. Sergio Galdi d’Aragona OFM, Secretary for the 2021 General Chapter

During the General Definitory meeting last March 20, 2019, Br. Sergio Galdi D’Aragona, OFM of the Custody of the Holy Land and the General Commissary of the Holy Land in Italy was elected as Secretary for the 2021 General Chapter.

Born in Salerno on 30 October 1965. He has a PhD on Political Science, a Political-International course, and had his Masters in European Citizenship and Public Administration at the Scuola Superiore dell’Amministrazione dell’Interno in Rome. He also holds a degree of Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology.

He made his first temporary profession of religious vows in September 2007 as a member of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land and made his solemn profession of religious vows on 06 October 2011. He was ordained a priest on 29 June 2013 in Jerusalem.

He served as Secretary of the Holy Land from 2013 to 2016. From Autumn of 2016, he served as General Commissary of the Holy Land based in Naples, Italy and, in the same year, was also elected President of the Conference of the Commissaries of Italian Language, to which Italy and some Slavic countries belong.


JPIC Webinar on Migration

The JPIC Office in Rome has planned a series of webinars for 2019 on the four topics that are the general directions of JPIC promotion decided at the last International Council for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation in Verona, Italy. The topics are Migration, Climate Change, Laudato si’, and Mining (extractive industry). And it held the first three on the theme of MIGRATION in three official languages of the Order. Here is the list of them. The video recordings of them are available on the JPIC website and the JPIC YouTube channel.

  • The Italian webinar was on Jan 14. The speaker was Flaminia Vola (Regional Coordinator in Migrants & Refugees Section, Vatican).
    The English webinar was on Feb 20. The speakers were Fr. Julian Jagudilla, OFM (the Migrant Center at St. Francis Church, NY), Fr. David Buer, OFM (Fraternity Ite Nuctiante, AZ) and Ottoniel Perez (St. Camillus parish, MD)
    Lastly, the Spanish webinar was on Mar 13. The speaker was Fr. Tomás González Castillo (La 72, Tenosique).
  • The speakers of each conference have shared their visions, experiences, initiatives and suggestions on the issue of migration according to their respective regional contexts, which was helpful and enlightening to the respective audiences. Especially, those in Spanish and English were very interesting and meaningful because they dealt with the phenomenon of migration and the migrant brothers and sisters in Central America and the Franciscan Network for Migrants.


It was the first attempt by the office to offer an opportunity of JPIC formation and discussion on the online platform. Even though the participants were not yet many, it was still a significant starting point of the new initiative that can reach out to more brothers and sisters on our way to the Gospel values, JPIC. Hopefully, there would be much bigger participation in the coming webinars, and this new initiative could deepen our understandings of global issues and foster collaboration on the ground. The topic of the next webinar is Climate Change. The schedule of the next webinars can be found in “Agenda” on the web site of the JPIC Office.

Register here to receive invitations and information for all the webinars.