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Do not be afraid; darkness has not conquered the light! | Easter Letter of the Minister General 2020

Do not be afraid; darkness has not conquered the light!

[Cf. Mt 28:5; Jn 1:5]


Easter Letter of the Minister General 2020


Dearest brothers and sisters,

May the Living Christ give you peace!

This year, the celebration of Easter will have as a backdrop a world traumatised by the spread of the new Coronavirus. Hundreds of thousands of people are infected; tens of thousands are dead; many more will be victims before an effective vaccine can be developed. We cannot even begin to talk about the impact of this virus on local, regional and global economic life. Unemployment is rising rapidly; families already have to make clear decisions about which meals they can afford to eat and which they have to give up. And as if that were not enough, the virus is now spreading to countries in Africa and Asia where much of the health infrastructure is not sufficiently equipped to receive those who will fall seriously ill.

On this journey, the Risen Christ comes close to each one of us, enlightening us with his Word and rekindling in our hearts the fire of first love: “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” (Lk 24:32). This text on the Resurrection serves as a compelling call to love, mercy and the closeness of our God in all moments of life, especially when human life itself is threatened. It is precisely at these times that the Lord Jesus does for us what he did for the two followers who were walking towards Emmaus with broken hearts, confused minds and shattered hopes. What they had witnessed in Jerusalem was too overwhelming to accept.

Without being recognised, Jesus reaches out to them on their journey, asking them to talk about what was worrying them. “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” (Lk 24:17). This question is more than just a request for information on current events. Jesus opens up a way of listening, thus allowing the two followers to focus on what really worried them: the darkness and despair that the horrible events of the crucifixion had brought into their lives. “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” (v. 18). The question posed by these two men touches the most profound sense of human solidarity, in addition to what could be said from a biblical and exegetical point of view. Not knowing can sometimes be equated with not wanting to know. Pope Francis calls it a culture of indifference. When one knows the truth about something, one is obliged to act in a very different way, to commit oneself to do what is necessary and right to respond to emerging needs and live a consistent life. This is the nature of conversion: it calls us to wake up and put order in our lives. It requires that we connect our lives with God’s story, and an essential part of this story is his permanent initiative to draw us to him, to save us, and to lead us on the path to the fullness of life.

Perhaps encouraged by this particular fellow traveller, those two men continued to explain what had happened in Jerusalem. They recounted how Jesus of Nazareth was going to lead them out of their mediocrity, their lack of clarity about who God is and what He means to those who seek Him with an open and humble heart. He would free them from slave-like dependence in which they lived because of the (foreign) Roman occupation, and the collaboration of those who cared only for their own personal interests. “How our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him” (Lk 24:20).

Even in the darkest moments of human despair, when it seemed that there was no longer any reason for hope, the men who made their way to Emmaus recognised a glimmer of light. They had a motive not to give in, not to allow their despair to consume them and to destroy the dream offered to them by the “prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people” (Lk 24:19). But they could not stop there. They wanted to convey something else to their mysterious companion on the journey: “Some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive” (Lk 24:22-23). “That he was alive!” It is difficult to extinguish human hope and love, even in the face of overwhelming circumstances. Even in despair, the two disciples still kept the possibility open that God could do something new, that God had not abandoned them.

In the celebration of the Easter Vigil, there is another text that is very closely linked to this sense of fidelity and hope that God brings to humanity in the person of His beloved Son Jesus. The Gospel of Matthew portrays the figure of Mary Magdalene and another woman called Mary, who go to the tomb to mourn the death of the one they believed to be the promised Messiah. The earth trembled, the stone that blocked the entrance to the tomb was rolled away, and an angel appeared and spoke to the two women: “Do not be afraid… He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said” (cf. Mt28:5). It is clear from the text that the angel’s words cause joy but also confusion in their hearts. Yet they leave “in haste”, running towards Jerusalem to deliver the message they have received to a hidden and frightened community. Just as happened to the disciples on the road to Emmaus, Jesus himself meets the two women, greets them, allowing them to come closer and embrace his feet. Jesus says to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” (28:10).

Many situations regularly highlight our fears because they confront us with unknown or uncertain circumstances. Returning to my opening theme, the coronavirus epidemic has aroused worry, anxiety and a sense of absolute helplessness in all of us. The images of the sick dying alone, because they cannot have any contact with their families, have shocked us. This Easter the biblical texts of the resurrection invite us to confront the harsh reality of the threat to human life: the life of Jesus taken in a vicious act of violence; the life of humanity now facing a virus capable of killing and harming millions of people on this small planet. We know that the virus is not the only threat humanity is facing, but it is now the most urgent. All the more reason to listen once again to the message of the angel and Jesus, who come to give us comfort at this difficult time for the whole human community.

Do not be afraid! Yes, truly the Risen Christ “makes all things new” (Rev 21:5) and therefore wants to renew our lives and the way we face any kind of threat. He, as Saint Bonaventure affirms, “having defeated the author of death, teaches us the ways of life” (The Tree of Life 34). He urges us to leave the tomb of our fears, of our prejudices, of our mediocrity; to transcend those situations that prevent us from living our vocation to the full, that is, to be resurrected, to be new men and women. I am reminded of the words of Pope Francis who exhorted us at the last General Chapter to “restore mutual trust so the world may see and believe, recognising that Jesus’ love heals wounds and renders all as one”. An appeal to strengthen our trust in the strength that flows from Easter.

The encounter with the Risen Christ, who frees us from the fears that paralyse us, urges us to go beyond ourselves, beyond our security and comfort, the sense of “it has always been so”. We are challenged to take the path of the Gospel, which is always new because it is “the Word of eternal life” (Jn 6:68). The encounter with the Risen One becomes mission and proclamation of new life. “Those who have encountered him, those who live as his friends and identify with his message, must inevitably speak of him and bring others his offer of new life: Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!” (Querida Amazonia 62).

So what should we proclaim? We must never tire of proclaiming with our voices and witnessing with our lives that Jesus Christ is alive and that with his Resurrection, he has conquered death. We must declare that death, hatred and fear do not have the last word, but the life of the Risen One is the definitive word on the story of humanity and our personal stories. We must cry out that “darkness has not conquered the light” (Jn 1:5), but it is the light of Easter that flickers over every night and radiates the beginning of the day without a sunset. God will never abandon those he created and destined for life, love and hope! The world, the Church and our fraternities need to hear this message: we are the bearers of these glad tidings, so we generously offer to all the good news that springs from Easter!

A happy and holy Easter to all!


Rome, 5 April 2020
Palm Sunday

Br. Michael A. Perry OFM
Minister General and Servant

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[Deutsch] Fürchtet euch nicht; die Finsternis hat das Licht nicht erfasst!
[English] Do not be afraid; darkness has not conquered the light!
[Español] ¡No temáis, las tinieblas no vencieron la luz!
[Français] N’ayez pas peur, les ténèbres n’ont pas vaincu la lumière!
[Hrvatski] Ne bojte se, tmina nije pobijedila svjetlo!
[Italiano] Non abbiate paura, le tenebre non hanno vinto la luce!
[Polski]Nie bójcie się, ciemność nie ogarnęła światłości!
[Português] Não tenhais medo, as trevas não venceram a luz!


Artwork: Luca Giordano, Resurrection. Oil on canvas, 114 x 116 cm. Residenzgalerie Salzburg, Inv.-No. 285. Photo: Fotostudio Ulrich Ghezzi, Oberalm. © 2020 RGS/Ghezzi.

Why ask Saint Camilla Battista of Varano for help in time of pandemic?

From a conversation with Mother Chiara Laura Serboli and the other Poor Clares of Camerino on the story of Saint Camilla Battista da Varano, martyr of the plague epidemic of the sixteenth century, published in L’Osservatore Romano of 2 April 2020:

Historically during epidemics, various “special” saints were invoked: St Rita, St Roch, St Anthony the Abbot, St Christopher and St Sebastian, whose stories are somehow linked to illness or miraculous healings. These invocations underline a universal fact, that goes beyond the saint to whom they are addressed: trust in the power of prayer and the awareness that the saints are our friends. In our prayer of intercession, we have turned to Saint Camilla Battista Varano, whose body is kept in our monastery, because we feel she is our “special” friend and it is normal that in times of need we ask our friends for help. We do this also because St Camilla Baptist not only experienced something similar to what we are now going through, but she was also a victim of it, dying of the plague on 31 May 1524. She died “alone on the bed of the cross”, infected by the disease, and was buried in quicklime to avoid further contagion. Her farewell took place in the open because of the ban on gatherings. She certainly knows what those who have contracted the virus are going through, facing it in the solitude of a hospital. She knows the pain of family members and of each of us. That is why we are certain that she intercedes for peace and health for everyone. She promised, “From Heaven, I will never forget you”. When the city walls of Camerino were renovated at the end of the fourteenth century, Duke Giovanni Spaccaferro wanted a religious community to be placed at each entrance gate. As well as an armed garrison to protect against physical enemies, he also wanted a religious community to guard against spiritual or invisible enemies, like the plague, creating a sort of spiritual enclosure. Taking up this tradition, relying on the intercession of Camilla Battista, our prayer today rises with confidence and perseverance from the city of Camerino, for the protection of the people of our time. Our city, in addition to still recovering from the earthquake emergency, is also on the front line of the covid-19 crisis, as a hospital reception point for all those infected in our territory.

Silvia Guidi

Full text (in Italian): www.vaticannews.va

Visit the website of the Poor Sisters of S. Chiara di Camerino www.clarissecamerino.it



VOX Franciscana: OFS & YOUFRA Formation “For a Fraternity Without Borders”

Brazil hosted the first OFS-YouFra Formation School of the Southern Cone from June 20 to 23, 2019. The theme was, “Franciscan Formation and Identity: For a Fraternity Without Borders”. The school was held in Foz de Iguazú — a triple border region of Brazil-Paraguay-Argentina, which includes the famed Iguazu (Iguaçu) Falls, which participants got to visit. The priority focus was on formation, leadership, and Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC). The general objective “was to provide a space of formative and informative sharing” for OFS and YouFra formators, JPIC animators, fraternal animators and spiritual assistants.

Download the Winter 2020 Edition of Vox Franciscana to read the complete text and other articles:


St. Francis heals a man from Llerda

In the city of Llerda in Catalonia a certain man called Juan, who was devoted to blessed Francis, happened to pass by one evening on the road where there was concealed a deadly ambush—not for him, actually, for he harbored no hostilities, but for another man who looked like him and who often was in his company. One of the men who lay in ambush leaped out of hiding and, taking him for his enemy, stabbed him with deadly blows, wounding him repeatedly, so there was no hope of his recovery.

The physicians pronounced his healing to be impossible. So, since he was beyond all human aid, he turned with all possible devotion to beg the protection of the blessed Father Francis, on whom (as well as on the blessed Virgin) he had called with great trust even in the middle of the ambush.

Behold, as the poor man lay all alone on his bed, unable to sleep and moaning Francis’ name over and over, it seemed to him that someone dressed in the habit of a Lesser Brother came in through the window and approached him. This person called him by name and said: “Since you have placed your trust in me, behold, the Lord will deliver you.” When the wounded man asked him who he was, he answered that he was Francis. And as soon as he said this, he approached the man’s wounds, undid the bandages, and seemed to anoint all the wounds with an ointment. No sooner did he feel the gentle touch of those sacred hands, which had the capacity to heal by the power of the Savior’s stigmata, than the flesh was restored and the wounds were closed, so that he was once again in perfect health. After doing this, the blessed Father disappeared.

The man, feeling himself healed, burst out exultantly into shouts of praise to God and Saint Francis, and cried out for his wife. She hurried in at a run, and, as she saw the man standing up whom she had expected to bury the next day, she was utterly terrified and stunned, so that by her screams she gathered the whole neighborhood.

The people of the household hurried in, and tried to force him back into bed, thinking he was in delirium, while he fought them off, insisting that he was cured, [saying] “Do not be afraid! Do not believe that what you see is false, because Saint Francis has just left this place and has cured me completely of every wound by the touch of those sacred hands.” As the news of this miracle spread, the whole town hastened there. Seeing the power of blessed Francis’s stigmata by means of such an obvious miracle, they were at the same time filled with wonder and with joy, and extolled Christ’s standard bearer with loud cries of praise.


It was fitting indeed that the blessed Father,
now already dead in the flesh, and living with Christ,
should give health to a mortally wounded man
by the wonderful manifestation of his presence
and the gentle touch of his sacred hands,
since he bore upon his body the brand marks
of the One who,
by His merciful death and wondrous resurrection,
had healed the human race
—which had been wounded and left half alive—
healing us by the power of His wounds.



From The Major Legend of Saint Francis by St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio, Miracles I, 5

Cardinal Ouellet to the Poor Clares of Assisi: this is the hour of the contemplative life

Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, recently wrote to Mother Agnes, Prioress of the Proto-Monastery of the Poor Clares of Assisi. “The pandemic that confines us at home is your hour, the hour of the contemplative life that brings humanity and the Church back to God, to the essentials of faith, prayer and communion in the Spirit”. Mother Agnes had requested that the cardinal write a few words to the nuns, in these difficult times due to the spread of the coronavirus.

Cardinal Ouellet affirms this “is the hour of the contemplative life”. At a time when, “many families are suffering the illness and the death of their loved ones in solitude”, despite the heroism of doctors and health care workers, contemplatives are “at the bedside” of the sick, and the Spirit opens their hearts “to the most hidden frontiers of suffering humanity”. The “discreet and widespread” presence of religious, is “a balm of tenderness and peace on the wounds” of humanity.

Isabella Piro

Read the full text (in Italian) on Vatican News.

Image: Maestro della Santa Chiara, Miracle of the loaves

The Holy Land: The Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in the times of Covid-19

“The community of the friars of the Sepulchre is made up of 11 brothers,” says Fr. Salvador Rosas Flores, Superior of the Franciscan convent at the Holy Sepulchre. “Despite the complete absence of pilgrims, we are keeping up our rhythm of prayer and fraternity.

Our main intention of prayer, in this period, is the request to the Lord to take care of the situation that the whole world is facing.”

Even in this very particular time, in the Basilica, the Franciscans and the other Christian communities present continue to respect the rules of the Status Quo, celebrating their liturgies at the Tomb, at Calvary and in all the holy places inside the Holy Sepulchre. “There are seven presbyters amongst us, the Franciscans, and every day we celebrate at least one Mass each, for a total of seven daily Masses, which are usually celebrated by groups of pilgrims; one solemn Mass in front of the edicule, four in the Tomb and two at Calvary.” Although they are few in number, the Franciscans continue to meet to observe the daily rhythms of prayer, including Vespers, the daily procession and the night Office.

The intentions, during the times of prayer, are multiple. “As well as those which continuously entrusted to us by pilgrims and benefactors,” continues Fr. Salvador “in this historic time, our main concern is praying for all the countries in the world that are suffering because of Coronavirus”. A single intention that contains many nuances: the main thought is turned to the spread of the virus, but the prayers are also directed to the health care personnel, the patients and the governments, so that they can make the right and coherent decisions, without forgetting the economic sphere, and the difficulties suffered by workers and their families.

The uncertainty of the global situation is also creating variable feelings in the community, but our unshaking trust in the Lord is there in the background. “We are attentive to all the current problems,” says Fr. Salvador, “but we are even more so for Covid-19. There are two reasons for this: we live in a region where more and more people are falling ill and, above all, we come from different parts of the world: Europe, the Middle East North America and Latin America, which are starting to come into contact with the issue of the increase in infections.”

Technology and social media are also fundamental tools for the Franciscans of the Holy Sepulchre. Thanks to them, they can keep relations and contacts with abroad alive: the different Franciscan provinces, their countries of origin and their families. “We know everybody’s conditions and we are trying to ensure that nobody is lacking support and encouragement. Above all, we are trying to advise our friends of forms of behaviour that we know have been successful elsewhere and which we also follow, of course. The Lord will help us.”


Giovanni Malaspina


Source: www.custodia.org

Br. José Adolfo Larregain, Auxiliary of the Archdiocese of Corrientes, Argentina

The Holy Father has appointed as auxiliary of the Archdiocese of Corrientes, Argentina, Br. José Adolfo Larregain, OFM, guardian of the House of Formation of the Temporary Professed in the diocese of Merlo-Moreno, assigning him the titular see of Mauriana.


Br. José Adolfo Larregain, OFM

Br. José Adolfo Larregain OFM, was born in Adolfo González Chávez, province of Buenos Aires, on 3 April 1966 and was ordained a priest on 19 March 2004, and incardinated in the Order of Friars Minor. He graduated in pastoral theology from the Faculty of Theology of the Catholic University of Argentina.

He held various roles in the different areas of Argentina where the Franciscan communities are present: Río Cuarto, Salta, Lomás de Mariló, and Moreno.

He is currently Guardian of the Community of Friars Minor in the Diocese of Merlo-Morenus. He is also parish administrator of the Virgen de la Paz parish and was appointed as provincial definitor of his Order.

Coronavirus: Letter of the General Minister


May the Lord give you peace!

Over the course of these past more than three months since the discovery of the new Coronavirus, we have witnessed its progressive proliferation from one specific region in China to more than 115 countries. Virtually the entire human community finds itself engaged in a major battle to try to contain its further spread, care for those who are infected (more than 126,000), and mourn loved ones who have died (more than 4,500). The economic impact on nations, families, individuals, and most especially on the poor will, undoubtedly, be catastrophic.

In the early stages of this pandemic we might have found ourselves feeling protected, immune, distant, and perhaps even a bit unconcerned with the virus and its impact. However, as the virus continues its seemingly unrelenting spread, we find ourselves at the epicenter of a crisis. There are still many scientific aspects of the virus that are not yet fully understood. It respects no borders or boundaries: physical, social, psychological, religious, or cultural. Its strategic capacity to jump from one host to another makes it particularly virulent. The responses that are being designed and implemented by governments to halt its proliferation are making demands on many of us that restrict the exercise of our personal freedoms the likes of which many of us have never experienced. And yet, these measures are necessary to prevent further advance of the virus. Special prayers go out to those who are serving on the front lines as medical personnel, those engaged in research to find a vaccine, and governments struggling to find effective responses to ensure the safety and well-being of their people.

My intention in writing to you at this time is to try to help allay fears and anxiety. For those of us living in countries that are to date disproportionately affected, I wish to encourage you to remain strong in your faith. For those living in countries experiencing fewer infections, remain vigilant in all things. During this special liturgical season of Lent, Christian believers are invited to accompany Jesus, recalling the great struggles and crises he faced, recalling also his death on the cross as a sacrifice of pure love. But neither suffering nor death had the final word over his life, nor should they have over our lives. The hope provided by the resurrection, and by daily acts of justice, mercy, and love should inspire us to look beyond all fear, all anxiety, and perceive the presence of Jesus who continues to speak the same words to us as he did to his beloved friends and disciples: “Have no fear! I am with you until the end of the age!”

In the midst of this global epidemic, let us not lose sight of the many millions of people around the globe who are suffering from other crises. Our hearts go out in a special way to the people of Syria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Venezuela, Mindanao, the Republics of Sudan and South Sudan, Palestine, Lebanon, and to brothers and sisters living in other parts of the world where human dignity, fundamental rights, and basic physical survival are under threat. Let us seize the invitation for us to move beyond all divisions, all fears, and seek the paths leading to authentic dialogue, cooperation, and the promotion of the well-being of all of humanity, most especially those who are poor and excluded. Let us also deepen our commitment to love and care for the natural environment, our common home.

May the Lord bless each of you, my dear brothers, and may we allow the strength of our convictions, our commitment to the Gospel way of life inspired by St. Francis of Assisi, to enable us to be faithful witnesses to the power of the love and hope that our faith offer to us, indeed, to all of life.

Rome, March 12, 2020

Fraternally yours in Christ and St. Francis,

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



“I was in prison and you visited me”: Letter from a friar from Damascus

Here is the Lenten letter of Br. Bahjat Elia Karakach, guardian of the convent of Bab Thouma in Damascus.


Dear friends, I am writing to you from prison.

Here comes the Lenten season which helps us to convert through penance. A time when we are called to be close to those who suffer, to the marginalized with whom the Lord Jesus has identified … The prisoners are expressly mentioned in the parable of the final judgment in Mt 25: 31-46: “I was in prison and you visited me.”

Here in prison I am not alone, but I share this captivity with all my compatriots. We Syrians, in fact, have been living in a large prison since 2011, imposed by Western policies, by countries that claim the role of defenders of civil rights, but embargo an entire nation … and do you know why we are in this prison? Because we want to defend our beautiful country from terrorists who once wanted to turn Syria into an obscurantist state.

Today, the mass media love to highlight the story of a girl who died of cold or a family forced to flee the bombings, but these same media do not tell you about the millions of Syrians who suffer from the cold due to a lack of diesel, which are not they can always enjoy a hot dish due to lack of cooking gas. They don’t tell you about the students who can’t study after dark due to a power cut, they don’t tell you about the elderly abandoned because their children had to emigrate … They don’t tell you about the expensive living prices because the Syrian lira has plummeted further, they don’t tell you about the young soldiers who fight terrorism in sub-zero temperatures and they don’t know if they can do it, they don’t tell you about the sick who cannot have dignified care because “moderate” terrorists have destroyed most of the hospitals and because the hospitals that they work they can’t repair the machines because of the embargo … and surely they won’t tell you about the bombings that killed a young university student two days ago [in Damascus ed.] and even about Erdogan’s openly hostile speeches that he decided to introduce in elementary schools the Ottoman nostalgia for regaining the neighboring lands including Syria.

But the mass media will not even tell you about the joy of the pepople in Aleppo when the national army managed to free the western suburbs of the city, from which mortars rained down on civilians. They will never tell you about the joy of all Syrians for the reopening of the Damascus-Aleppo highway and the restarting of the Aleppo international airport which gave hope for a possible economic recovery … they will not tell you about the announcement of the repair the railway route between the Syrian capital (Damascus) and the industrial capital (Aleppo) and the possibility of traveling by train after nine years of war …

So I tell you that we are in prison … and our news, the real news, is scarcely widespread.

Sometimes someone comes to visit us, makes us feel part of the world and gives us the hope of being able to return to being a “normal” nation, not cut off from the world.

From this prison we hear sad and worrying news of the coronavirus, which invades the world and our beloved Italy, we pray for you and sometimes, wanting to play down, we say that this time it is an advantage to be in “prison”, because at least this cursed virus cannot easily penetrate the walls of our nation.

From the “prison” we wish you all the best and a good Lenten journey … Do not be afraid, Jesus with his Cross has overcome suffering, sin and death.

Remember us in your Lenten charity.



The views expressed are the writer’s own. The OFM.org website publishes a variety of opinions.


Koinonia: Challenges and hopes of the Relationship between OFS and YouFra

The document on the Incorporation of the members of YouFra into OFS asks: Why has the need to establish a Franciscan Youth organized and incorporated to the OFS been felt? The answer is that, in recent decades, the demands and dynamics of the youth world have changed and the Franciscan Family, encouraged from its base and with the support of the Church, has prepared to respond appropriately to these changes to offer answers and places of discernment and action to young people. The YouFra, therefore, is the privileged place of the Franciscans to do all this. In addition, it must be added that OFS, within the Franciscan Family, is the Order that, living in the secular world, better lends itself to welcome this path, support it, assist it, and for this reason the Church has formally entrusted to it1.

In order to maintain this fruitful relationship and develop it, here are some aspects that can help us think together and continue working in fraternal communion.

  1. Maintain in life the gift that is received
  2. Face tensions with openness to dialogue
  3. Take advantage of the way already traced
  4. Encourage the fraternal animation and the formation
  5. Continue to promote the double belonging



As we conclude this journey the intimate relationship of OFS and YouFra is obvious. Indeed, the YouFra is a gift from God for the Church and for the Franciscan family. The Franciscan family through OFS has responded to this call by welcoming the YouFra within it. Having young people with us is a source of blessing and hope. For this gift to continue to be fruitful, it is necessary, first of all, that the spiritual dimension motivates all our activities and projects. The reception of the Sacraments and time dedicated for Prayer are permanent sources of spirituality. Secondly, to recognize that, just as young people are a gift from God to the Church, they also represent a great challenge: the permanent challenge of accompaniment. The appointment of fraternal animators is essential for young people to learn the charism and later choose a secular or religious life within our spirituality; along with the designation comes the formation; the formation of the Fraternal Animators is necessary for the exigencies of the age of the youth which is always changing. Finally, take advantage of the wonderful gift of the paths already journeyed. Indeed, no tension or conflict can prevail if we dialogue and continue to work together in the Lord.

– Claudio Hernán Eguzquiza Rodríguez, TOR


Download and read the full text:

Koinonia 2019-4“The Relationship between OFS and YouFra: Challenges and hopes”

N. 104

PDF: EnglishItalianoEspañolFrançais

DOC : EnglishItalianoEspañolFrançais

[1] Incorporation of the Members of YouFra in to OFS, http://www.ciofs.org/, p. 1

JPIC Commission Meeting of the Santa María de Guadalupe Conference

As Franciscans, we are called to read the signs of the times in continuous contemplation and action for the values of the Kingdom, i.e., Justice and Peace.

In response to the constant reflection of our reality and the Jerusalem Statement of the JPIC International Council 2019, the brothers of the JPIC Commission of the Santa María de Guadalupe Conference have gathered together for a meeting on February 24 and 25 in Acámbaro Guanajuato, Mexico. The members of the Commission worked together to respond to the challenges that the Statement invites them to create action plans for Entities and the Conference. They also had a fraternal meeting with the president of the Conference, Br. Flavio Chávez García, OFM.

The attendees were the JPIC animators of the Santo Evangelio Province, the San Pedro y San Pablo Province, the San Francisco y Santiago Province, the San Junípero Serra Province and the Custos of the Nuestra Señora de la Speranza Custody, Br. José Santos Pérez Castillo, OFM. The JPIC animators of Central America and the animator of the San Felipe de Jesús Province joined by online to elaborate the action plan of the JPIC Commission of the Conference and to be present at the meeting with the President of the Conference.

Br. Juan Antonio Orozco Alvarado, OFM, JPIC Coordinator of the Conference, encouraged the brothers to keep in mind that JPIC is not an isolated Commission in which we should fill out work schedules, planning, and events. The brothers might feel tempted to make a plan and not execute what was planned. JPIC is the Franciscan social doctrine, the way to live out the values of the Kingdom with the impetus of our father, St. Francis. The essential parts of the JPIC Animation Guidelines and the Jerusalem Statement are presented to contextualize the meeting and project us to concrete actions, such as the Conference Action Plan.

Br. Flavio Chávez motivated the brothers, indicating that this Commission is the face of the Friars Minor, and we must fight to show it amid chaos in the society that continually confronts us. Again, he reminded the JPIC Commission of the important task entrusted to it, namely, Franciscan Network on Migration. The brothers know well of the situation of our region and are called to be instruments of peace and not to remain indifferent to these facts.

In response to this mission and the Jerusalem Statement, the results of this JPIC Commission meeting were:

  1. Migration Crisis: Franciscan Network on Migration. Put effort in the projects of the Franciscan Network on Migration as active participants.
  2. Climate Crisis: Celebrate Season of Creation (September 1 – October 4). An initiative of a Youth JPIC Gathering on the Conference level will be presented to the Provincials on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the presence of the Order in America. The objective is to renew our prophetic presence through ecological conversion.
  3. Socio-Environmental crisis: Workshop on “Mining: Reality and Consequences.”
  4. Crisis of Violence: Participatory workshop on “Violence.”


There were moments of reflection, fraternal coexistence, and prayer. The participants celebrated the Eucharist “for justice and peace,” wishing peace and good to all the people.

They concluded the meeting with gratitude and were sure that the road traveled isn’t much, but convinced that they need to be instruments of peace and justice, resonating in them the words of the Seraphic Father Francis: “Let us begin to do doo, for as yet we have done little.”


Br. Juan Antonio Orozco Alvarado, OFM
JPIC Coordinator of the Santa María de Guadalupe Conference – México

Pope Francis invites Catholics to celebrate Laudato Si’ Week

To celebrate the fifth anniversary of Laudato Si’, Pope Francis invites Catholic communities to participate in Laudato Si’ Week, from 16 to 24 May 2020.

The weeklong program coincides with the fifth anniversary of the signature of Laudato Si’ and seeks to engage the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics in ambitious actions to protect our common home. With about one-sixth of the world’s population organized in more than 220,000 parishes around the globe, the Catholic Church plays a unique and vital role in addressing the environmental crisis.

In his video, Pope Francis reflects on environmental protection as a core theme of his papacy and encourages the faithful to participate in Laudato Si’ Week:

“What kind of world do we want to leave to those who will come after us, to children who are growing up? Motivated by this question, I would like to invite you to participate in Laudato Si’ Week from 16-24 May 2020. It is a global campaign on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the encyclical letter Laudato Si’ on the care of the common home. I renew my urgent call to respond to the ecological crisis, the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor cannot continue. Let’s take care of creation, a gift of our good Creator God. Let’s celebrate Laudato Si’ Week together. May God bless you and do not forget to pray for me.”

Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ encyclical sparked prayer and action to protect the environment in thousands of Catholic communities and gave new impetus to the Catholic movement to care for creation. However, scientific analysis reveals that the pace of climate change and of mass extinctions continues to rise. To meet this challenge, more ambitious commitments are urgently needed.

Against this backdrop, Pope Francis and the Vatican’s Dicastery for Integral Human Development encourage Catholic communities to reflect on their actions to date and to then take the next step. Ambitious actions will vary from community to community; a suggested guide to the most impactful actions is available at the Laudato Si’ Week website.

The Laudato Si’ anniversary coincides with other significant environmental events to take place later this year. In November, at the 26th United Nations climate change conference, countries will announce their plans to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement. The UN’s conference on biodiversity, during which the world will have the chance to set meaningful targets to protect creation, will take place in October.

As a leading partner in this initiative, JPIC-OFM is deeply committed to implementing the vision of Laudato Si’: As individuals, fraternities, entities and as an international order, we feel strongly challenged to make a clear and radical option in the direction of the ways of living indicated by Laudato si’. We are called to a radical option to authentically live our charism and embark on a journey of ecological conversion to be a beacon of ecological hope” said Fr. Jaime Campos, OFM, director of the JPIC Office in the General Curia in reference to the last Plenary Council of the Order.

Laudato Si’ Week is sponsored by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. More information about partners can be found here.

First International Congress: Franciscans in Bolivia and the First Anniversary of the Amazon Synod

Following the proposals made by Pope Francis and the Bishops of Amazonia, bearing in mind that St. Francis has been declared Patron of Ecology, and in the context of the preparation of the 200 years of Franciscan activity in Guarayos: the Franciscan Province of St. Anthony in Bolivia, the Catholic University of Bolivia “San Pablo”, the “San Pablo” Faculty of Theology, the Bolivian Academy of Ecclesiastical History and the Pontifical Antonianum University, are organising the First Congress on “The Franciscans in Bolivia: the human rights of the peoples and an integral ecology”.

The objective of this Congress is to show the missionary work of the Franciscan Order in Bolivia, a land rich in ethnic and cultural diversity, where the work of the Franciscans has been recognised as a key element in the formation of Bolivia as a nation. Far from an apologetic viewpoint, this Congress is a space for reflection on the work of the Order in its evangelising activity. It will examine the Order’s contribution to a respectful approach to the indigenous peoples and to the environment in which the Franciscans work.

This is an invitation to present papers and posters for institutes, research centres, independent researchers, scientific societies, and students exploring this field of research from the following perspectives:

  1. Missiology
  2. Heritage, Via Pulchritudinis and Franciscan tourism
  3. Anthropology and Indigenous Peoples
  4. Social Teaching of the Church and Human Rights
  5. Indigenous peoples
  6. Economy and Environment
  7. Franciscan Communication and Education


Date: 7, 8 and 9 October 2020

Place: Catholic University of Bolivia “San Pablo” – Cochabamba Region and the “San Pablo” Faculty of Theology.



  • Submission of registration forms with proposals: 1 May 2020
  • Acceptance of proposals: 1 June 2020
  • Submission of selected papers: 1 August 2020
  • Publication of the final programme: 28 September 2020


Registration forms to be sent by e-mail: congreso1franciscanos@gmail.com

For more information, download:

The prophecy of Franciscan economic thought

The global economy of the 21st century, consolidated after the fall of the Berlin Wall, is based on “free” capitalism that is increasingly enriched through the financial markets, and in danger of breaking away and isolating itself in a self-serving loop.

In this context, the productive economy, natural resources and people themselves are the objects of continuous devaluation processes. These tend to legitimize every form of inequality and the disregard of the most precious of the common goods: the planet’s climate balance, every worker’s right to civil dignity, the new generations of every continent’s right to the future.

The economy understood as the doctrine of human action, is therefore faced with particularly demanding ethical and social challenges.

In this framework, the proposal arising from the Franciscan economic school – developed in the Europe of the 13th-16th centuries – can offer a valuable contribution by presenting the development of its reflection on the ethical foundations and objectives of economic activity.

Francis’ Rule invites us to understand what voluntary poverty and wealth mean, that is, what is the value of poverty chosen as a dimension of life, but also what is the value of the use of goods and resources. It is from this daily challenge, posed by the Rule and lived by every Franciscan, that an economic vision has emerged to look at humanity and the world. A planning and dialoguing thought, measured by the fundamental questions of the economy: the value of goods, the use of money, the ethics of the markets, the dignity of people.

The cycle of lectures looking forward to the Assisi event, “The Economy of Francis” on March 26-28, 2020, aims at providing some conceptual frameworks and a series of ideas for reflection. It will address those engaged in a formative journey within the Order of Minors as well as those with different formative experiences, also dialoguing with those who are professionally involved in the world of economics and finance.

The seminar cycle, in addition to the presentation of two themes for each meeting, offers a debate that aims to involve the participants, stimulating requests for further study, questions and current experiences.


12 – 19 – 26 March 2020
15.00 – 17.30

Pontifical Antonianum University – Rome

Secretariat: 0670373502

A certificate of participation will be provided for those who apply for it.


Download poster [PDF]

Franciscan-led team spearheads fight against mines in Honduran province

GUALACO, Honduras – In the remote rural swathe known as the Wild West of Honduras, said to be a bandits’ hideout where it is “easy to get in, tough to get out,” the Church finds itself once again at the forefront of a movement for justice.

Only this time, 45 years after two priests were among a massacre of peasants demanding land and human rights, the focus has a decidedly green hue.

“Don’t sell your conscience for 200 lempiras,” (US$9) was the message of Franciscan Father Avelino Verdugo, a leader of the local Franciscan Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation committee, to the population of the neighboring San Esteban municipality.

The people are being courted by the representatives of 89 mining concessions that have mushroomed since 2017 in the department of Olancho; the concessions cover almost 5% of Honduras’s largest department. But these are not typical large international mining companies, they are small-scale mines registered mostly by Honduran individuals unknown to the local communities.

Before a November 2019 information meeting in which mining representatives wooed the community of San Esteban, the population reported being offered bribes to support the project to mine barium sulphate, used to produce barium for medical uses and mudflaps on vehicles. But then Father Verdugo, other committee members and representatives of the Tegucigalpa-based Honduran Centre for the Promotion of Community Development, known by its Spanish acronym as CEHPRODEC, presented the other side of the story. And when they left the meeting, they were followed by two vehicles, losing their pursuers only when they drove 85 miles per hour.

“As Christians, we are called to promote the values of justice, peace, truth, love and solidarity – ‘peace and all good,’” Father Verdugo said. “We have an ethical and moral responsibility to work against the anti-values of those who damage the environment.”

For the JPIC committee, this means telling people the truth about mining and its impact.


This article was published on Crux on February 16, 2020 by Catholic News Service. Read the rest of the story on: cruxnow.com


(Credit: CNS photo/Mary Durran.)


Wuhan — Franciscans were present there over 100 years ago

One of the first designated hospitals to treat the Corona virus epidemic was the Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital — whose predecessor was the Wuhan Infectious Diseases Hospital, which was named the Father Mei Memorial Catholic Hospital of Hankou when it was first established in 1926. Father Mei Zhanchun was the Chinese name given to an Italian missionary-friar Pascal Ange (Angelicus) Melotto, OFM (1864-1923) who was born in Lonigo, entered the order in 1880 (The Province of St. Francis), and came to China in 1902. “Mei” is the Chinese character for “plum”.

Melotto had become involved in some local conflict and was kidnapped in 1923. Being a foreigner, a large ransom was demanded and the Italian and French Embassies became involved. While he was kidnapped, he was moved many times between Hubei and Henan provinces and died three months later, when one of the kidnappers shot him in the stomach with a poisoned bullet. Shortly before dying, he had confided, “I am happy to die for the Chinese. I lived in China for the Chinese and now I am happy to die for them.

In the past, when a foreign missionary was killed, his home country would demand huge reparations from China, thus giving the impression that the Church was on the side of imperialism. In 1919, however, Pope Benedict XV had issued Maximum illud which warned against the union of colonialism and religion, and so the first Apostolic Delegate to China, Celso Costantini, insisted that instead of concessions being granted to the recently established government of Mussolini, a hospital should be built in honour of Melotto. His remains were eventually transferred to a memorial structure called the Plum (“mei”) Pavilion.

As one of five local Catholic Hospitals, Fr Mei Memorial Hospital played an important role serving the poor in Hankou. By 1949, there were 150 beds, two clinics, 20 Franciscan Sisters of Christian Doctrine, and 7 nurses. In 1952, when all missionaries were expelled, the hospital was confiscated and was renamed. In 2008, the original building was destroyed and the hospital moved to another location as the Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital. The Plum Pavilion has been dismantled, waiting to be reassembled one day…. and the Franciscan missionary presence also awaits the opportunity to continue where it left off!

A message of Mercy and Hope to China from Assisi — St. Francis to the sick and fearful

Brother Francis of Assisi invites us to care for our brothers and sisters, especially now in China, at a time when many people are suffering. One of the oldest lives of the saint indicates that mercy towards the sick, troubled, and infirm can be a way of hope. This message of compassion and hope is sent from Assisi to the land of China.

The image shows the translation from Latin into Chinese of a passage from the Life of our blessed Francis here in English:

Then the holy lover of profound humility moved to the lepers and stayed with them. For God’s sake, he served all of them with great love. He washed all the filth from them and even cleaned out the pus of their sores. The sight of lepers was so bitter to him that in the days of his vanity when he saw their houses even two miles away, he would cover his nose with his hands. With the grace and strength of the Most High, while still in the clothes of the world, he met a leper one day. Made stronger than himself, he came up and kissed him. […] He was also a helper of the poor. 

For more information on the complete Chinese translation of this work cf. www.ilcattolico.it.


Some Franciscan resources are also available from the “Franciscan Education Channel” in Hong Kong through a series of videos “Facing the Epidemic with St Francis” via YouTube.