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The Servants of God Tullio Maruzzo, OFM and Luis Obdulio Arroyo Navarro

Promulgation of Decrees of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints

 

On October 9, 2017, Pope Francis received in audience his Eminence Cardinal Angelo Amato, S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. He authorized the Dicasterate to promulgate a Decree on the martyrdom of the servants of God Tullio Maruzzo, a priest of the order of Friars Minor and Luis Obdulio Arroyo Navarro, a layman of the third order of Saint Francis of Assisi, killed on July 1, 1981 in odium fidei in Los Amates, in the Apostolic Vicariate, Izabal in Guatemala.

 

Friar Tullio (Marcello) Maruzzo

Friar Tullio (Marcello) Maruzzo was born in Lapio of Arcugnano (Vicenza) on July 23, 1929. Educated at a deeply Christian family in 1939, he joined the seraphic College of the Friars Minor of Veneto in Chiampo. He made his solemn profession in 1951. He was ordained on June 21, 1953. In December 1960 he went as a missionary to Guatemala. His pastoral activity was done in the parishes of the Vicariate of Izabal, where with dedication and courage he exerted himself for the good of the faithful. Sensitive to cries of the poor peasants who because of the greed of a few landowners were dispossessed from the land that they were improving with hard work. His work as pastor was to address rampant poverty, to console the disheartened and especially to illuminate consciences to clearly promote the rights of Justice according to the dictates of the Gospel. His pastoral activity took on the character of a prophetic and courageous denunciation of the abuses of local despots who then decreed his suppression.

 

Luis Obdulio Arroyo Navarro

Luis Obdulio Arroyo Navarro was the faithful companion that the Lord placed next to Br. Tullio in the moment of ultimate sacrifice. He was born in Quiriguá (Guatemala) on 21 June 1950. He worked as a driver for the municipality of Los Amates. At the age of 26 years he joined the Franciscan third order, and become a Catechist in the parish. On the evening of 1 July 1981, on the way back from a meeting of Cursillos of Christianity, de Los Amates, Br. Tullio and Luis Obdulio fell victim to an ambush by those who wanted to silence their work of evangelization. Their cause of beatification, promoted by the Veneto province of Friars Minor, began in the year 2005.

Online Seminar on Franciscanism in Spanish language

The Theological Institute of Murcia is offering an online Seminar in Spanish beginning this year on Franciscanism entitled “The Franciscan Heritage: Experience, Reflection, Current.” The course consists of three parts: the first is dedicated to the study of the biography and the writings of Francis and Clare; the second part deepens the theme of the Franciscan movement in the first centuries; the third part studies Franciscan thought and the “Franciscan school” (Bonaventure, Duns Scotus, etc.). The program is open to anyone interested in expanding his/her intellectual knowledge of Franciscanism. No minimum educational level is required, although it should be noted that the lessons are designed for university students. The professors will be from the Theological Institute.

The seminar is offered in e-learning mode. Content is accessed through the virtual classroom of the OFM Theological Institute of Murcia. Online learning is tailored to the needs and schedules of each participant: the virtual classroom is accessible 24 hours a day. This year’s course is presented as a preparatory course and other courses are scheduled for the coming years.

For information, email legadofranciscano@itmfranciscano.org or visit www.itmfranciscano.org

 

Communique from the General Definitory – Tempo Forte of September 2017

The September 2017 Tempo Forte was held from September 11th to 22nd; during the first week (11th to 15th), the meetings were held at the General Curia in Rome, while the second week (18th – 22nd) saw all the members of the General Definitory go to Turkey for a pilgrimage to the Churches of the Apocalypse and to participate in the blessing of the newly-renovated Friary and Church at Bornova, Izmir (Smyrna).

During the first week, on September 11th, the new Definitor General was elected — Br. Jürgen Neitzert OFM, from the Province of St. Elizabeth, Germany.

The following General Visitators were elected:

  • Ivo Müller, OFM, from the Province of the Immaculate Conception of the BVM, Brazil, for the Custody of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Brazil;
  • Michael Kleinhans, OFM, of the Province of the Assumption of the BVM, Brazil, for the Province of the Immaculate Conception of the BVM, Brazil;
  • Wim Pot, OFM, of the Province of the Holy Martyrs of Gorcum, the Netherlands, for the Province of St. Elizabeth, Germany.

 

Four work sessions were dedicated to the preparation of the Plenary Council of the Order (PCO), which will be held in Nairobi, Kenya, from June 12th to 28th, 2018. Br. Manuel Corullón Fernández, the Secretary of the PCO, attended these sessions, as did Br. Matteo Giuliani, OFM.

A committee was appointed for the preparation of the Chapter of Mats for ‘Under Tens’, which will be held in Taizé, France, from July 7th to 14th, 2019.

During the morning session on Thursday, September 14th, representatives from Price Waterhouse Coopers made a presentation to the General Definitory on the outcome of an audit of the accounting and finances of the General Curia. The Minister General will soon communicate further detail on this audit to the Order. Also that morning, Br. John Puodziunas, OFM, the General Treasurer, gave a report on the state of the accounting and finances of the General Curia.

The General Definitory took note of the availability of some Friars (from various Entities of the Order) to participate in projects dependent on the Minister General. They also accepted the request of some other friars to end their missionary experience in these projects.

The following requests were examined:

  • dispensation from the clerical state (3);
  • secularisation ad experimentum (3);
  • secularisation pure et simpliciter (2);
  • dismissal from the Order (1);
  • dismissal Ipso facto (3);
  • exclaustration for three years (1);
  • dispensation from Temporary Vows (1).

 

In addition, the acts of the Custodial Chapter of the Custody of St. Clare in Mozambique were ratified, as were the Capitular Congresses of the Provinces of Our Lady of Guadalupe (USA), and St. Bonaventure (Italy). Finally, there were presentations of the final Visitation reports of the Provinces of Ireland, St. James of the Marches (Italy), St. Bonaventure (Italy), Immaculate Conception (Poland), St. Mary of the Angels (Poland), and Our Lady of Arantzazu (Spain)

The next Tempo Forte takes place at the General Curia from November 6th to 17th, 2017.

 

Rome, October 11th, 2017

Br. Giovanni Rinaldi, OFM
Secretary General

Letter from the Second National Meeting of the Franciscan Lay Brothers

We, seventy brothers of four Franciscan branches (OFM, OFM Cap, OFM Conv and TOR), met from September 7 to 10, 2017, in the municipality of Vila Velha – ES.  The objective of this Second National Meeting of Franciscan Lay Brothers was to promote a fraternal spirit among the brothers of Brazil and to reflect on the Consecrated Religious Life in its process of transformation, from the perspective of the Franciscan lay brother.

Taking up once again the reflections and propositions of the previous national meeting, held in 2015, we feel the need to know ourselves more fully as brothers of a larger family, one that is beyond our own obedience or branch.  It is a family in which brothers of different names rediscover and help one another, draw up common plans, divide up work and take joint action.  This helps us promote the process bringing together the four branches of the Family, realizing that being a brother and a minor has a profound meaning for the Consecrated Life and for the Church, as well as a prophetic force in the world today.

In this context, in line with the Final Letter of the CFFB 2017 Chapter of Mats of Aparecida and taking into account the disruption of the political and institutional fabric of our country (which is based on lies created and disseminated by the media), we, brothers and minors of our time, want to proclaim along with all the poor and social movements: “no to the loss of rights.”  Water is a creature of God and must belong to all sons and daughters of God, not to be given to the “god” money. Life is sacred and, especially in the indigenous struggles, it has been threatened and massacred.

Friar Luiz Carlos Susin, OFMCap, provided us with an historical summary of aspects of Consecrated Religious Life, including that of clericalism in our midst.  He encouraged us to return to the “mysticism” of being Friar Minor, and reflected with us deeply on four verbs: GO BACK TO THE SOURCES, REGENERATE, SET OUT ANEW and REQUALIFY.

As a result of our time together we encourage all to:

  • EMPHASIZE in vocational promotion and initial formation the essential and prophetic dimension of being a brother as the foundational identity of the Franciscan charism, using this insight to prepare common materials for all branches;
  • AVOID use of hierarchical pyramidal models and encourage the participation of lay brothers in decision-making. Meetings of the brothers should be encouraged;
  • HIGHLIGHT ministries that go beyond traditional spaces, creating new perspectives and broadening horizons so that we can be promotors of peace and integrity of creation, encourage itinerancy and be in solidarity with the cause of the poor and excluded;
  • CREATE an executive team composed of brothers of the four obediences with the following functions: send our proposals to the administrations of the various obediences and prepare the next national meeting; create and maintain social media; promote the production of materials.

In conclusion, we reaffirm our belief in this inter-obediential meeting as a unique space of mutual help, unity and protagonism of the Franciscan lay brother.

We ask the blessings of Our Lady of Penha so that we may continue to be faithful to our vocation, following in the footsteps of Jesus as his younger brothers.

Vila Velha (ES), September 10, 2017.

Ongoing formation on “Interculturality” at the General Curia

The friars of the General Curia gathered from September 25 to 28, 2017 for a series of ongoing formation conferences.

Friars who live and work in the General Curia come from different entities of the Order from different countries, thus the sessions focused on various intercultural themes. Intercultural issues and how to work together in an intercultural context were addressed not only in theory but also through group discussions and other practical activities.  A major theme was on the knowledge of self and others as the basis of relationships and as a necessity for improvements in community life and efficiency of services in intercultural contexts such as that of the General Curia.

Four speakers presented the following themes:

Rev. Arturo Sosa Abascal, SJ, Jesuit superior general: “Interculturality”
Dr. Mario Becciu: Assessment and Verification of Living and Working Together in Brotherhood”
Rev. Tim Norton and Rev. Robert Kisala, Missionaries of the Society of the Divine Word: “Living and Growing with Diversity”.

The event ended with a solemn Eucharistic Celebration presided by the General Minister, Br. Michael Perry.  For his homily click here.

Chapter of Union Dates for the OFM Presences in Canada Announced

A three-day meeting, September 26-27, 2017, at Mount St. Francis Retreat Centre in Cochrane, Alberta, Canada, of the Definitories of the Province of Christ the King (Western Canada) and the Saint Joseph Province (Eastern Canada) has led to some important announcements toward the restructuring and revitalisation of the OFM presences in Canada.  Two fraternal gatherings, a Chapter of Mats, April 23-26, 2018, and a Chapter of Union, October 21-25, 2018, have been announced.  It is anticipated that the Minister General and English Speaking General Definitor will be present for the Chapter of Union.  Under the guidance of a General Delegate, Friar Peter Williams, OFM, a Transition Committee is working to organize both events, while liaising with several subcommittees who are addressing various aspects of the restructuring and revitalisation process.  Work in progress includes, but is not limited to, discernment and consultation around mission and evangelisation, formation, communication, provincial statutes, liturgy, the administration of goods, and a name and logo for the new Province.

Transitus and Feast of St. Francis at the General Curia 2017

The feast of our Seraphic Father Saint Francis of Assisi was celebrated at the General Curia on October 3 and 4.

On the evening of the 3rd, Br. Rufino Lim, OFM, of the Justice and Peace Office, presided at the Transitus. The church of Santa Maria Mediatrice was completely packed with religious sisters from various Congregations, nearby Franciscan communities and friends. A social in the cloister of the Curia followed the liturgical celebration.

On the 4th of October, as is tradition, Fr. Viliam Dóci OP, Vicar of the Master of the Dominican Order for the Convento of Santa Sabina, presided at the solemn Eucharist.  He was accompanied by four other Dominican friars who joined the Curia community’s festivities.

Transitus

Feast Day of St. Francis

Banner photo courtesy of Fr. Dominik Jurczak OP

JPIC Newsletter: CONTACT (07-09.2017)

Dear brothers and sisters, fraternal greetings of peace!

As we celebrate the feast of St. Francis with joy, we greet you from our JPIC Office of the General Curia. We present the third issue of this year’s JPIC newsletter, «CONTACT». As we have already shared in the previous issues, we decided to opt for one of the three themes proposed by the International JPIC Council, held in Verona last year. In this issue, we’d like to bring attention on the changes in the lifestyle. We invite you to read this issue that shows the work of JPIC in some entities.

 

English – CONTACT

Español – CONTACTO

Italiano – CONTATTO

You are invited to read and share our «CONTACT» Newsletter, which allows us to be connected and to know the various initiatives around JPIC values within the Order’s entities.

Peace and all Good.

 

Jaime Campos F. & Rufino Lim

Saint Francis’ fresh look on a new world | Homily of the Minister General

“The whole point of (St. Francis’) point of view was that it looked out freshly upon a fresh world, that might have been made that morning. Save for the great primal things, the Creation and the Story of Eden, the first Christmas and the first Easter, the world had no history.” (G. K. Chesterton)

 

“A fresh look on a new world.” But how did our dear Brother Francis come to this deep awareness of the eternal and inextinguishable presence of the love and mercy of God in the world, in the hearts of each and every one of us, in his own life, and in the created universe? What was it that took place within his life that allowed him to look into the face of violence and hatred, war and destruction, the exploitative abuse of human beings and of the natural environment without giving up to hopelessness and losing all sense of the presence of goodness in all things that exist?

There are two sources behind and underneath the many different moments of personal conversion in Francis’ life. And let us not forget that Francis did not change his life once and for all when he divested himself of his father’s rich legacy and wrapped himself in the cloth of the poor. Like all human beings, Francis continually was brought to a moment of decision where he had to make a choice for the good or the bad, for God and humanity or for his own egotistical pursuits. These two sources stand side by side and cannot be de-linked one from another.

In the first instance, Francis came face to face with the presence of evil that took many forms – violence and war between competing city states in Italy; avarice and systematic exploitation of the poor and weak; the competition for God and power waged between the Church, the Potesta, the landed aristocracy, and the emerging merchant class. Francis came increasingly in contact with those who suffered most in the society of Assisi. He also witnessed firsthand the consequences of violence, the slow process of dehumanization that occurred in his own heart, and in the hearts of all involved in the prosecution of war. What we are able to reconstruct from the initial stages of Francis’ conversion brings us face to face with the image, the face of the crucified and resurrected Lord Jesus hanging on the cross in the dilapidated church of San Damiano. It was the crucified Jesus who reached out from the cross and gently touched the pain and confusion within Francis’ life, not judging him, not scolding him. Francis experienced a God who is compassionate, merciful, all merciful, and who loves all without distinction. It was this experience of the compassion of Christ that opened Francis’ heart and mind to the possibility of recovering hope, peace, and joy.

The second aspect of Francis’ conversion process is linked with his direct contact with a humanity that was suffering, alienated, disfigured, and overwhelmed by a sense of hopelessness. We witness everywhere in the world today these destructive forces that deepen a sense of a culture of death: the move to end life through euthanasia in different countries in northern Europe; the random and senseless shooting rampages in Paris, London, Las Vegas, and also in Somalia, Yemen, Siria, and elsewhere in the world today; the mistreatment of refugees; the end of civil discourse among politicians and the abandonment of a sense of the common good. In all of these situations we recognize the level to which human beings have lost all sense of the dignity and beauty of life and have closed themselves within a vision of life that is not open to hope, to the presence of Someone standing behind, beneath, in front of and in the heart of human history, God. Francis also stood face to face with many different threats to dignity, hope, and the future of humanity and of God’s presence in our midst. Francis did not run or hide from the disfigured face of humanity. Rather than close himself off and protect himself, Francis chose to jump into the heart of the world, embracing and accompanying humanity, offering love, mercy, compassion, hope to all he encountered, just as Jesus did in his life and mission.

Dear brothers and sisters, our faith tells us that the birth of the new creation is a gift from God transmitted in and through the incarnation, suffering and death, and through the gift of the Resurrection. Our faith also tells us that the only way for this to become a reality in our lives is for us to make the daily choice to act as messengers of love, mercy, and hope. By choosing to embrace the way of compassion and love, we become members of the Body of Christ, co-creators with God in the act of new creation that is taking place in all events of history, an unstoppable act of gratuitous love brought to fulfillment in the life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus. May God’s Spirit set our hearts on fire and enable us to choose each day to embrace the way of the new creation in Christ Jesus!

Happy Feast of St. Francis!!

 

Br. Michael Anthony Perry, OFM
Feast of St. Francis of Assisi – 4 October 2017
Basilica di S. Francesco, Assisi

Honoring the Archangel Michael and Celebrating the Minister General’s Feast Day 2017

On September 29th, the Feast of the Archangels, the friars celebrated the Feast Day of the Minister General, Br. Michael A. Perry, OFM. The celebration began at 6:00pm in the General Curia with the Eucharist presided by the Minister General himself.

The friars of the General Curia participated with the other friars from the houses that are dependent on the Minister General in Rome. Among those in attendance were Fr. Gregory Polan OSB, Abbot Primate of the Benedictines, Fr. Marco Tasca, Minister General of the Conventual Franciscans, Fr. Mauro Jöhri, Minister General of the Capuchin Franciscans, Fr. Eligio Gelmini OFM, of Mondo X, and other Religious who are close to the Curia as well as friends of the Fraternity.

The homily was given by Definitor General, Br. Antonio Scabio, who reminded the congregation how important St. Michael was for St. Francis who in the Earlier Rule said that “every minister was to meet with his brothers every year on the feast of St. Michael the Archangel, to deal with things that concern God” and that “Blessed Michael must be more solemnly honored, because he has the task of presenting souls to God”.

Br. Antonio ended the homily by imploring the help and protection of St. Michael for the Minister General while expressing affection, esteem, obedience and gratitude to him on behalf of everyone.

The complete (Italian) text of the homily can be found here.

 

Taking Care of the Poor and the Earth: The First National JPIC Camp in Italy for Friars and Youths

On August 22-26, 2017, a group of young people and friars from all over Italy participated at the first national JPIC Camp in in Palermo, Italy.  Br. Francesco Zecca, OFM, JPIC Animator from Salento, recounts the event below:

 

As Friars Minor of Italy, we have been looking for better communication with the youth on the values of JPIC. So we were thinking to propose to youths aged 18 to 35 a chance of formation on the JPIC values, encounter with witnesses and service of the poorest.

All this happened in Palermo, August 22-26. 20 young people and 9 friars from different parts of Italy have participated. The title we chose was “To Take Care”,  a journey that starts with God who takes care of His children, arrives to human beings who are called to the image of the Father to take care of the brothers, the creation, and the society where they live.

The first experience was itineracy in the city. Every day we have set out to find stories of those who have tried to take the Gospel seriously in their daily life, from the story of Don Pino Puglisi, a “Father” for all those who tried to get out of the streets of crime, was killed by the mafia in 1993 to Br. Biagio Conte, a young man from a wealthy family who, after a human and spiritual crisis, left his “world” and began to take care of the brothers “who are left behind (by the society)”, setting up in Palermo the mission “Hope and Charity”, that welcomes about a thousand brothers and sisters every day.

Among other brothers have also been involved in this movement are the friars of the “Holy Land” friary who carry on various social activities, including the soup kitchen on the road and the ceramic workshop; to the social tailoring “Al Revés”, which promotes employment and creative commitment of those who need “an opportunity to improve themselves” for life.

In the days of the camp, both the young and the brothers, were engaged in dedicating each day to the service at the mission “Hope and Charity”, as a concrete sign of taking care for and serving the brothers and sisters, who also took care of us by giving us a kind word, a smile or sharing their stories.

At the end of the camp, we were all happy with the beautiful experience we had, which aimed to make the Gospel closer and more intimate to our daily life, not by doing superheroes but, as Pope Francis said in Laudato Si’, because “the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them”(No. 217).

These lines doesn’t fully express the experience of grace that the Lord has made us live, because some people would never find words to express the richness of it, but they certainly want to be a hymn of praise to the Lord for what He has accomplished in our lives these days. So what better words are to be used to conclude this little sharing other than those of our Father St. Francis: “Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks, and serve Him with great humility.”

Feast of St. Francis 2017 – Letter

Saint Francis: Active Listener of the Word

Dear brothers,

May the Lord give you peace!

We are about to celebrate the feast of Saint Francis, our father. When a parent is being celebrated, the entire family meets to share their joys, emotions, and experiences; an event of that kind is also an opportunity to take stock of problems and plan together for the future. At this particular moment in time, we (as sons) are invited to reflect on the significance of this feast day, because our lives are not just a repetitive series of the same events – in fact, this year the feast of St. Francis falls at a special time for our fraternity because we are preparing for the Plenary Council of the Order, which will be held in Nairobi from June 12th to 28th, 2018.

 

PDF: EnglishEspañolItaliano

 

The theme of the Plenary Council has already been decided: “Those who have ears to hear, let them listen to what the Spirit is saying …… to the Friars Minor” (Rev. 2:29). While the reference is to the past, in the Book of Revelation, our concern is the present moment and the specific message that the Spirit addresses to us in the many different circumstances in which the friars find themselves.

From September 18th to 22nd last, the General Definitory visited our brothers who live in Turkey — we thank them for their fraternal welcome, and for their commitment and witness. Bishop Rubén Tierrablanca (OFM), Vicar Apostolic of Istanbul, joined us in visiting the archeological sites of the Churches of the Apocalypse, where we spent time meditating on the letters to the seven Churches (Rev.1:17–3:22). This visit enabled us to connect to the messages addressed both to the Christian communities of the past, and to us here and now.

 

Listening in a Time and Place

While visiting those places in a spirit of listening, we soon became aware of a particular process and methodology for evangelization and mission. This process is the foundation of all renewal: John is in solidarity with the persecution and suffering of his brothers and sisters and he recognizes that the gathering of the community in prayer on the Lord’s Day is the appropriate setting for him to communicate his message to them (Cf. Rev. 1-3). The Lord’s Day is the time and place for fraternal sharing, where anxieties and sufferings find a response in listening to the Word and in being immersed in the Spirit. Encountering the Risen Lord and listening to his voice enlightens and strengthens us in facing daily problems and emerging “victorious” in our struggles with the powers of evil. The Lord’s Word is always one of hope, opening us up to the beatitude: “blessed are those who listen to the words of this prophecy” (Rev. 1:3).

 

Listening to the Spirit so as to know how to listen to the world

Listening to the Word and being immersed in the Spirit do not isolate us from the concrete world that we belong to. On the contrary, they help us to discover our mission in the world. This is the meaning of the messages addressed to the Churches that appear at the beginning of the Book of Revelation.

The concrete context in which the Church is present is the reality of the World, represented by Babylon. Although by definition the Church is the faithful spouse, nonetheless in the life she lives she experiences the presence of evil within herself, and she is afflicted by many of the problems that beset this world. Because of this, before reproving the inhabitants of the earth for their evils, the Church herself is called to rediscover the victorious power of the Resurrection of Christ, engaging in a process of conversion that, through the light of the truth that she is called to proclaim, will bring about a renewal in her.

 

The dynamism of listening

            We can see a pattern in the letters to the Churches of the Apocalypse: each one is introduced as the word of the Risen Lord to an individual Church — “To the angel of the Church at ….. these are the words of the Son of God…” — and each concludes with a word addressed to all the Churches by the Spirit — “Those who have ears to hear, let them listen to what the Spirit says to the Churches.”  While the words spoken by Christ address specific and defined situations, the message from the Spirit is universal — a message to all the Churches. This, however, is not just a generalized enunciation of principle, but is reality-based and specific to each situation.

Listening generates a process by which the received word becomes a reality in our lives. The first letter, addressed to the Church of Ephesus, delineates the stages of this process: “consider — repent — do” (Acts 2:5) Conversion is born from listening to the word of Jesus which, animated and brought into reality by the Spirit who makes a “memory” of it, produces life changes.

 

What is the Spirit saying to the Friars dispersed in the seven Churches?

The word that the Risen Lord speaks to the Churches of Asia Minor is once again addressed to us, sons of St.Francis, in the multiplicity of situations where the Order has a presence, on several continents.

  • The Word spoken to the Church of Ephesus recognises and points out the significant gifts of that Church; hard work and orthodoxy. We can count these among our gifts too, but we also hear the Lord remind us that without love all of this is vain.
  • What is said to Smyrna deepens our hope and enlightens our discernment, teaching us to live our poverty as something enriching.
  • The letter addressed to Pergamon calls us to open ourselves to the purifying power of the Word, which can give us the capacity to overcome difficult situations — both in our relationship with the outside world as well as within our fraternal lives.
  • What is written to the Church of Thyatira helps us to recognise the path we are trying to follow and, at the same time, invites us to a process of discernment which will rid us of misguided elements or mistaken principles.
  • What is said to Sardis indicates that the worst thing for a community is when the interior life of its members is neglected, even if many good works are still being done. But this criticism is followed up with encouragement; change is always possible, and it can spring from the vitality and dynamism present in the Church of long ago, as well as in today’s Order.
  • The letter to Philadelphia offers us a way of seeing our weaknesses as well as encouraging us to persevere. It reminds us that if we are faithful to the Word, then our witness will be recognised and will be successful.
  • The message addressed to Laodicea reminds us that the most negative attitude is that of feeling self-sufficient. This smothers any desire for change and progress, because the gravity of certain stagnant situations is not acknowledged — and so, neither reason, nor threats, nor the force of authority can bring about a positive resolution. Indeed, it is only the warmth brought by love that can engender cordial relationships of friendship and conviviality. The Lord does not force any door open; he knocks and waits until the door is opened in response to his voice. Love’s strategy is to wait and ask to be freely received, and in this way attain its goal.

 

The words addressed to the Churches of the Apocalypse, therefore, resonate in a living and concrete way with us and our fraternities.

 

Listening in obedience to the voice of the Spirit

Dear brothers, like John, we too need to consciously live the ‘Lord’s Day’, listening to the Word of the Risen Lord and being immersed in the Spirit. Just like the communities of the Apocalypse, we need to find ourselves anew, recognising our human and spiritual identity so as to then go out to the world, inserting ourselves into that reality and witnessing to the newness of life brought about by the Lord’s Resurrection. But such a mission can only take place as part of a process of conversion. Our lives, and that of our fraternities, need to be purified from the negative worldly influences that have leached into our way of life.

The voice of the Spirit reminds both us and the seven Churches that the Lord who has died and is risen knows our weaknesses as well as our strengths. The Lord calls us to always remember how much he continues to do in us today, and how much he has done throughout our history. The voice of the Spirit teaches us that we must never allow ourselves to be held prisoner by an unthinking attachment to the past, however glorious it may have been. Instead, we need to be nourished by the constant and effective renewal brought about by that Spirit, through whom the Word of the Risen Lord is ever new, vital, and relevant to any situation in which we may find ourselves.

So let us never tire of eagerly learning, and gratefully accepting the ever new dynamism that flows from an intense and passionate listening to the Word of God. Let’s not be afraid of becoming more expert and mature in our listening. If we cultivate an ongoing approach of listening in a living and dynamic way, then we will be freed from the many written and spoken words that are useless and vain. The one true Word will become part of us, revealing the mind and will of God, which has become incarnate in Jesus Christ.

Our life needs to reclaim space and time dedicated exclusively to this living and dynamic listening, which will move from our senses to our minds. Then it will reach our hearts and become an active love. Before we engage in any planning, we must recover a process that comes between listening and taking action. This involves discernment occurring within the person whose inner being has been strengthened by the Spirit (Cf. Eph 3:16; 2Cor 4:16ff).

 

Francis — Active Listener of the Word

Francis was an attentive and active listener of the Word of God. He and his first companions discerned their vocations by the light of the Gospel, which became “life” for him. “His highest aim……. was to pay heed to the holy Gospel in all things and through all things,  to follow the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ and to retrace His footsteps.” (1C 84)

For Francis, it is the Spirit who guides our reading of the Word: just as in Mary and in the Church, the work of the incarnation is continued in the faithful by means of that same Spirit. (Cf. Adm 7; LtF 48-56) As a united fraternity, we seek new ways and means of renewal — always remembering that true conversion is born from the action of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. Therefore, together with our brother and father, Francis, we make this prayer:

Almighty, eternal,
just and merciful God,
give us miserable ones
the grace to do for You alone
what we know you want us to do
and always to desire what pleases You.
Inwardly cleansed,
interiorly enlightened
and inflamed by the fire of the Holy Spirit,
may we be able to follow
in the footprints of Your beloved Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ,
and, by Your grace alone,
may we make our way to You,
Most High,
Who live and rule
in perfect Trinity and simple Unity,
and are glorified
God almighty,
forever and ever. Amen.
(Lt Ord 7:50-52).

As we prepare for the Plenary Council of the Order, may the Feast of Our Holy Father Francis be an occasion for us to be open to listening in a living and active way to what the Spirit is saying to each one of us and to all our fraternities.

While wishing you all the best for the Feast of our Seraphic Father, we also ask you to unite with us in a community of prayer, that our preparation for and celebration of the Plenary Council may have the best possible outcome.

Our preparation will also be enriched by the life-giving remembrance and joyful celebration of the 8th centenary of the Franciscan presence in the Holy Land. Truly, the Lord Jesus is with us every day, until the end of time!

 

Rome, 2 October 2017
Memorial of the Guardian Angels

 

Your brothers,
Br. Michael Anthony Perry, ofm (Min. Gen.)
Br. Julio César Bunader, ofm (Vic. Gen.)
Br. Jürgen Neitzert, ofm (Def. Gen.)
Br. Caoimhín Ó Laoide, ofm (Def. Gen.)
Br. Ignacio Ceja Jiménez, ofm (Def. Gen.)
Br. Nicodème Kibuzehose, ofm (Def. Gen.)
Br. Lino Gregorio Redoblado, ofm (Def. Gen.)
Br. Ivan Sesar, ofm (Def. Gen.)
Br. Valmir Ramos, ofm (Def. Gen.)
Br. Antonio Scabio, ofm (Def. Gen.)
Br. Giovanni Rinaldi, ofm (Seg. Gen.)

 

Prot. 107839

Cover Art:  “Laudato Si’ – the path chosen by Francis and Clare” (Detail)  |  Artist: Br. Juan Rendón Herrera, OFM

The rediscovered Franciscan manuscript

In 2015, a new Life of Francis of Assisi attributed to Thomas of Celano was discovered, possibly the second written in honor of the saint a decade after his death. This discovery was widely hailed in the media. This Life and several accompanying Franciscan writings (the Regula bullata and the Admonitions in particular) are in fact only a small part of a manuscript containing a great variety of documents. The manuscript of 122 folios is kept at the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BNF NAL 3245) and is available in its entirety on the Gallica website (http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b10516082m/f8.image)

From September 20 to 22, 2017, the BNF and the Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes organized in Paris, under the direction of Mr. Jacques Dalarun, a colloquium which sought to explore and to try to understand this original manuscript (www.irht.cnrs.fr/?q=en/agenda/le-manuscrit-franciscain-retrouve). The manuscript raises many questions, having a rather poor appearance and a small size (120 mm by 80 mm). Clearly marked by a moral and a eschatological emphases, was it a tool at the service of itinerant preachers in the early 1240s? Everything seems to indicate several writers: who were they? Italian Franciscan friars who studied in Paris? Was it for individual or collective use? So many questions! Given the interest expressed by the speakers at this symposium, the reflection continues. A collective work should be produced within two years, the fruit of the work of these experts.

The Dream of a Beautiful Life: 5th Anniversary of Blessed Gabriele M. Allegra’s Beatification

On the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the beatification of Gabriele Allegra, the province of Friars Minor of Sicily recalls this event with a day dedicated to him. A solemn Eucharistic Celebration will be celebrated on 30 September at 6.30 p.m. at the sanctuary of our Lady of Lourdes Grotto in Messina. The General Minister of the order Br. Michael A. Perry will preside. Following the celebration there will be a moment of testimonies, reflections and songs. Br. Giuseppe Di Fatta will present a new CD entitled Il sogno di una vita bella with the voice of blessed Gabriele m. Allegra.

Gabriele Maria Allegra was born in S. Giovanni La Punta (Catania) on December 25, 1907. In December 1918 he entered the Seraphic Seminary of San Biagio Friary in Acireale. On October 13 , 1923 he took the Franciscan habit, with the name of Gabriele Maria, and October 19, 1924 he made his first profession. He was ordained a priest in Rome, in the chapel of Collegio Leoniano on 20 July 1930.

Surrounded by wide fame of Holiness, admired for his Franciscan simplicity and for his constant and endearing smile, especially by the poor and the lepers of Coloane, Br. Gabriele M. Allegra died on January 26, 1976 in Hong Kong.

The name of Allegra (cheerful) is linked especially to the now famous translation of the entire Bible in Chinese, which he began on September 11, 1935, the feast of our Lady of Sorrows. It became the boldest “project” of his life, which he considered an act of faith in God’s Word, and a great love for the Chinese people, He desired greatly that they be able to read ” God’s letter to his people” in their own language.

Love for the Word of God and zeal for the good of Chinese brothers and sisters formed in Br. Gabriele an indivisible binomial, which supported him in difficult times and that made him ready to face any opposition to the realization of the greatest of his heart’s desires.

Our Blessed brother’s assiduous meditation on God’s Word and in particular on the mysteries of Christ, gave fruit in the intensity of contemplation and ardor of apostolic action. Allegra, as attested to by one of the witnesses in the process for his beatification, “was the man of God, who heard God, lived for God and gave God”.

Given the growing fame of Holiness, that even after death, continued to surround the figure of Allegra, the Bishop of Hong Kong in 1983, in response to the request of the General Postulator of the Friars Minor, authorized the initiation of a regular canonical process to ensure the sanctity of life and heroic virtues practiced by the servant of God.

The Cause formally concluded December 15, 1994 with the Decree on heroic virtues. Eventually on April 23, 2002 a miraculous healing obtained through the intercession of our Venerable brother was certified.

On the 29th of September 2012 with Benedict’s Decree, he was declared Blessed.

For the full text (in Italian): https://ofm.org/it/

 

Emmaus Al-Qubeibeh: the new fraternity is born on the feast of Sts. Simeon and Cleophas

A double feast took place in Emmaus Al-Qubeibeh: On the day when Sts. Simeon and Cleophas are remembered, a new interobediential fraternity was officially born. Comprised of Friars Minor and Conventual Franciscans, the fraternity was introduced during mass on Sunday, September 24, in the presence of the Vicar General of the Friars Minor and of the Conventual Friars, Fr. Julio César Bunader and Fr. Jerzy Norel.

The Custos of Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton, presided over the celebration in commemoration of Sts. Simeon and Cleophas, whose evangelical story at the origin of the shrine, was proclaimed. The mayor of Al-Qubeibeh, Hasanen Hammudah, sitting in the front row, was a witness to the good relations between the Custody and the municipality.

In his homily, Fr. Francesco Patton explained the peculiarity of the feast on this year 2017, because of the 150th anniversary of the Franciscan presence at Emmaus and the formation of the new fraternity of Conventual and Friars Minor. The new fraternity will be dedicated to welcoming friars who wish to spend periods of reflection there or those who want to go there for permanent formation.

According to the Gospels, the disciples in Emmaus were incapable of recognizing the resurrection, but Jesus accompanied them on their journey to give them hope and to help their eyes recognize him in the breaking the bread. “It is what can happen to us if we invite him to stay with us and this is the meaning of this new fraternity,” said Fr. Patton. “It is a witness to communion, after 500 years since the painful event that was the division of our order in 1517. It will be a grace for the friars who will come here if they enter into the spirit of this place [and] of the disciples in Emmaus.”

The same vicar general of Conventual friars, Fr. Jerzy Norel, said: “The community in Emmaus came about in the name of Franciscan communion: to live together, to live the same land, to welcome others so that they may live in communion.” Among the words of exultation for the launching of this new project, he defined the new fraternity as “a new creature, a new child.” At the conclusion of the mass, after nominated the friars who will compose [the new fraternity]: Bernard, Dennis, Salem and Joseph, he gave them his wishes for a “good journey.”

The Vicar General of the Friars Minor, Fr. Julio César Bunader, spoke about the fraternity that will live in a new perspective. “500 years since the anniversary of the Ite vos Bull, we wanted to take steps together related to life, fraternity and mission,” he explained. “We chose the Holy Land and Emmaus and it is also the fruit of the work of the Vicars, which has been carried out along with Pierbattista Pizzaballa, up until this day.”

The guardian of the Emmaus fraternity, Fr. Salem, joyfully commented on the event: “As St. Francis said, every friar is a gift from the Lord. So for us, the Conventual friars who will live in the monastery, are a gift.” In addition to Br. Salem, Br. Dennis and Br. Bernard, who were present at mass, and who will settle in Emmaus Al-Qubeibeh, and Br. Joseph, is scheduled to arrive shortly. “I was surprised by the call of the vicar general, who proposed this project to me. It was a novelty, [and] so I immediately accepted it,” said Fr. Dennis. Originally from the Philippines and formerly serving as parochial vicar in Naples, Italy, he will have the opportunity to experience the Holy Land, having never visited it before.

Fr. Bernard, who is originally from Sri Lanka, has traveled a good deal in his life and he has had the opportunity to visit the Holy Land a good bit as well. He was at the Porziuncola in Assisi when he found out that he would be part of the new fraternity in Emmaus. “Several projects will begin, but we are here first and foremost to be witnesses and to be present,” he explained. “They had asked me to serve in the Custody of the Holy Land, but then they assigned me to this project. And I accepted. Men move, God leads them.”

After the mass, the first of the Terra Sancta Organ Festival Fall concerts took place, which included the participation of the organist Yacoub Ghazzawi and the Magnificat vocal ensemble. The Custos of the Holy Land and the friars moved to the upper floor of the monastery for the blessing of the new rooms, which have been restored thanks to the Custody’s Technical Office.

“This new fraternity is born in the mark of these two saints that we celebrated today,” said the Custos. “We ask for the Lord’s blessing.”

Beatrice Guarrera | The Holy Land Custody

Fraternal Celebration in the Ukraine Province

The annual meeting of the friars of the Province of St. Michael the Archangel, Ukraine, took place from September 4th to 8th in the Caritas Center of the Kiev-Zhytomyr diocese. All the friars of the Province attended and celebrated their fraternity in a brotherly spirit, with “one heart and one soul“.

The friars received the Minister General and Br. Ivan Sesar, General Definitor (Slavic Conferences) with great joy, spending a whole day in meetings – firstly with the Provincial Definitory, and secondly with all of the friars of the Province. During these meetings the care and interest of the Minister General and General Definitor for this Province was evident – in fact, it is the youngest Province in the Order.

In his address, the Minister General reflected on the current state of the Order and on the challenges that the world puts before us. He spoke about his dreams for the future of the Order, encouraging the friars to be faithful to the Franciscan charism. This charism must be lived out in the specific culture of the Ukraine, with a distinctive way of life and a specific pastoral approach. Br. Ivan Sesar remarked that the youthful age of the Province has advantages and disadvantages, with so much to learn.

The meeting with the General Minister concluded with the celebration of the Eucharist in the parish church of Zhytomyr, located next to the Provincial Curia. After Mass, Br. Michael gave his blessing to the friars, and to the many people gathered for the occasion.

 

 

Missionary Projects Directly Dependent on the General Curia

Dear Brothers of the Order,

May the Lord give you his Peace.

The Missionary Spirit of the Order since the beginning has opened the way and continues to find opportunities of service in five continents. The brothers are present not only in the cities but also in the peripheries of the world, facing the challenges of today’s world.

We invite you to view this map and check some of the missionary projects that depend directly on the OFM General Curia:

These are reminders of the international reality of the Order and of the urgent need for a fraternal cooperation at the universal level. We invite you to contact us for details and consider a process of discernment.

 

Fr. Luis Gallardo Loja, OFM
General Secretary for Missions and Evangelization
Tel. +39.0668491201
Email: missgen@ofm.org

Message of Solidarity for the Friars Living in Mexico

To Provincial Ministers
and all the Friars Minor of Mexico.

 

Rome, 20th September 2017

 

Dearest Brothers,

May the Lord give you his peace!

On behalf of all the Friars of the Order I want to write simply to express our solidarity in this moment of dramatic suffering caused by the earthquake which struck the Mexican capital and other cities in the various states of Mexico.

All of us together, in one spirit, pray for those who have lost their lives through this terrible tragedy, for those who are injured and all those who have lost their close relatives and their homes.

We wish in particular to be of support to you, our very dear brothers of the Franciscan Provinces who live and carry out your ministries in the areas which have been amongst those most badly struck, as well as for all of those who are involved in emergency aid and all of your families. We pray that you may be able to confront this calamity with faith, courage and solidarity.

May our compassionate and merciful God sustain you and bless you, and may the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and our Seraphic Father St. Francis, be with you and accompany you.

Fraternally yours,

 

Fr. Michael A. Perry, OFM
Minister General and servant

 

 

 

Prot. 107829

 

“Be inflamed by the fire of God’s love”: The Feast of the Stigmata 2017

Centuries of tradition continue in the holy place of La Verna as the friars celebrated with great solemnity the Feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis.   The celebration began on the 16th of September, the vigil of the Solemnity, with Vespers in the Basilica presided by the Minister General, Br. Michael Anthony Perry, OFM. Later in the evening, Br. Michael celebrated the Mass as pilgrims were welcomed, many of them the youth who were on retreat at the town below and arrived at the Shrine on foot.

The Solemn Mass was celebrated by the Minister General on the day of the Feast, the 17th of September.  In his homily, Br. Michael invited the faithful to look at the Stigmata of St. Francis and to allow themselves “to be inflamed by the fire of God’s love as He did with St. Francis… in order that Christ’s Resurrection may continue to transform the world through us.”

Following an ancient tradition, the Feast was rendered more solemn with the procession to the Chapel of the Stigmata, with a long line of friars, the faithful and civil authorities. At the end of the procession the Provincial Minister of the Tuscan Province, Br. Guido Fineschi, blessed, with the relic of the blood of the stigmata, the City of Florence.

Click here for the General Minister’s Homilies (in Italian): Vigil Mass | Mass of the Day

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