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Il Paese del Sole, Friar Alessandro’s Fourth Music Album

Friar Alessandro has launched his 4th album, Il Paese del Sole, with Encore Music in conjunction with the Franciscan Foreign Missions to which the Artist’s royalties go in their entirety. It is an album which pays homage to the Italian genius in producing melodic and poignant songs and while it marks a departure from his previous recorded repertoire of exclusively sacred music it still sends out the Franciscan message of beauty, joy and peace.

Also available on Spotify, Google Play, Apple Music and YouTube.



Eighth Centenary of the Franciscan Protomartyrs

In 1220 the Friars Minor Berardo da Calvi, Accursio and Adiuto da Narni, Ottone da Stroncone and Pietro da San Gemini were killed in Morocco. At the sight of their torn bodies, the Augustinian Canon Fernando da Lisbon decided to put on the Franciscan habit taking the name Anthony, with which he is venerated today as a saint not only in Padua but all over the world.

Eight hundred years later, the diocese of Terni-Narni-Amelia and the Franciscan order intend to celebrate this anniversary: it offers many aspects that address issues and challenges of today. For example, it recalls the importance of combining love and sacrifice if the first is not to remain elusive and the second unproductive. Similarly, the life of the martyrs recalls the Christian’s way of life and that of every person who is called to live in gratitude; gratitude which is then expressed in spontaneous self-giving to one’s brothers and sisters.

This centenary is an opportunity to rediscover and appreciate the historical, artistic, social and landscape heritage of southern Umbria with a view to a much needed spiritual, cultural and humanitarian rebirth.

The various initiatives of this year will be announced on Facebook at facebook.com/Centenario-Protomartiri-francescani



Br. Bechara Giuda, elected first bishop of the eparchy of Abu Qurqas, Egypt

Erection of the eparchy of Abu Qurqas, Egypt, and election of the first bishop of the eparchy of Abu Qurqas

His Beatitude Patriarch Ibrahim Sedrak, with the consent of the bishops of the Synod of the Patriarchal Church of Alexandria of the Copts, and after consulting the Apostolic See, has erected the eparchy of Abu Qurqas, with territory taken from the eparchy of Minya, in accordance with canon 85 CCEO.

The Synod of the Patriarchal Church of Alexandria of the Copts has appointed as first bishop of the eparchy of Abu Qurqas Br. Bechara Giuda, OFM, currently parish priest of the Shrine of the Stigmata of Saint Francis in Assiut, to which the Holy Father had granted his consent.


Br. Bechara Giuda, OFM

Br. Bechara Giuda, OFM, was born on 28 August 1971 in Al-Nagila. He entered the Seraphic Seminary of Assiut in 1983 and gave his first vows on 1 September 1996. He attended courses in philosophy at the Franciscan Seminary in Guizeh, and following his military service, he studied theology first at the Patriarchal seminary in Maadi, Cairo, and then at the Sao Paulo University in Harissa, Lebanon.

After his solemn vows on 23 March 2001 he was ordained a priest on 8 June of the same year.

In the Franciscan Province of Egypt he has held various offices as parish priest, counsellor and director of the school in Kom Ombo.

Since 2010 he has served as pastor and guardian of the Shrine of the Stigmata of Saint Francis in Assiut.

Besides Arabic, he knows Italian.


In Memory of Br. Thaddée Matura

Br. Thaddée Matura, a member of the Holy Spirit Province, Canada, died on the evening of January 5, 2020 in the provincial infirmary, Montreal. He was 97 years old and had completed 79 years of religious profession and 71 years of priesthood.

He was born on October 24, 1922 in Zalesie Wielkie, Poland. He began his secondary studies at the Seraphic College, Kobylin, Poland – hence his decision to enter the Franciscans. In April 1938, accompanied by his sister, he joined his father in Canada, in Hamilton (Ontario).

Having entered the novitiate in Sherbrooke (Quebec), on April 7, 1940, he was subsequently ordained priest on June 27, 1948. In 1950, he studied at the Antonianum in Rome and obtained a license in theology in 1952. In 1953 he completed the baccalaureate in Biblical Sciences at the Biblical Commission, Rome. He then spent two years in Jerusalem, studying at the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, and in 1955 obtained a license in Scripture.

He was a member of several theological, liturgical and ecumenical commissions in Canada and the United States and collaborated in various journals of theology and spirituality.

In 1964, he became a member of the OFM fraternity working with the Taizé Ecumenical Fraternity. He lived there until 1972 and published several writings on Saint Francis and Franciscan spirituality. In his later years he was a member of the OFM fraternity of Avignon, returning definitively to Canada in 2018.

Br. Thaddée Matura is renowned for his numerous publications on Saint Francis and his writings, and on Franciscan spirituality. His long bibliography eloquently bears witness to his work and his Franciscan commitment. His name will live on in the history of Franciscan studies.

Beyond Damietta: from Francis and the Sultan to the Future

2019 witnessed a number of events recalling the encounter between St. Francis of Assisi and the Ayyūbid Sultan al-Malik al-Kāmil eight hundred years ago. Now that the anniversary has passed, a roundtable discussion looks to the future of Muslim-Christian relations, particularly in connection with the Franciscan family.

In an atmosphere of prayerful reflection, panelists will discuss recent initiatives and possible initiatives to advance dialogue and will invite those in attendance to surface their own ideas – as concretely and practically as possible – for how Christians and Muslims can together move beyond Damietta.


Mustafa Cenap Aydin
Istituto Internazionale Jacques Maritain

Nadjia Kebour
Istituto Tevere

Jason Welle OFM
Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies

Monday, 13 January 2020 – 6:00 P.M. at the Centro Pro Unione, Via Santa Maria dell’Anima, 30 · Rome – 1st floor (Piazza Navona)

More information: www.prounione.it


JPIC Newsletter: CONTACT (10-12.2019)

Peace and all Good!

We present you the recent edition of JPIC Newsletter “CONTACT” (October – December 2019)

The “CONTACT”is an open space where you can share stories and information on your JPIC ministry. You can send your stories to pax@ofm.org

English – CONTACT

Español – CONTACTO

Italiano – CONTATTO

Hrvatski – KONTAKT


The next issue of “CONTACT” will be published in March 2020.


Fraternally yours,

Br. Jaime Campos, OFM | Br.  Rufino Lim, OFM

In memory of Br Giovanni Martinelli, Bishop Emeritus of Tripoli

On 30 December 2019 Br. Giovanni Martinelli, Titular Bishop of Tabuda and Apostolic Vicar of Tripoli, died at the Sacred Heart Convent in Saccolongo, Padua in the Province of St. Anthony of Northern Italy. His funeral was celebrated on 2 January 2020 in the parish church of Pozzo di S. Giovanni Lupatoto, Verona, and he was buried in the Bishops’ Chapel in Verona Cathedral.

He was born in El Khadra (Tarhuna) Tripolitania, Libya on 5 February 1942 and entered the Franciscan seminary of St. Francis in Tripoli, under the care of the friars of Lombardy, on 15 October 1952. In June 1956, he continued his seminary studies in Italy, first in Lombardy and then in the OFM Salerno-Lucan Province.

He was ordained a priest in Nocera (SA) on 28 June 1967. He obtained his Licentiate in Theology the following year at the Lateran in Rome and enrolled in the Pontifical College for Arabic and Islamic Studies.

In 1971 he came to the Church of St. Francis in Tripoli.  In 1985, he was elected Bishop, Apostolic Vicar of Tripoli and Apostolic Administrator of Benghazi.  The Consecration took place in Tripoli in the Church of St. Francis on 4 October 1985.

Bishop Giovanni was held captive by a Revolutionary Committee in Benghazi from 10-19 April 1986.

Diplomatic relations between Libya and the Holy See (10 March 1997) were re-established through the exchange of ambassadors, thanks to Bishop Giovanni’s help.

On 24 October 2015, he left to spend his vacation in Salerno and for health reasons, remained there until January 2017. Then at the request of his family, he was transferred to Saccolongo, Padua ad Ora.

A true Franciscan friar and a zealous bishop for his Church, he was born poor and lived his whole life poor like St. Francis, and a man of dialogue, peace and hope. He lived his life as he had chosen his motto “In Humility and Patience”.

His last words spoken in Tripoli: “I do not think that our love should end with death. Love and friendship have no borders and are the challenge for every Christian”.







Koinonia 2019 – 4 (N.104): The Relationship between OFS and YouFra: Challenges and hopes

The Relationship between OFS and YouFra: Challenges and hopes


With this small writing I would like to share with you my joy of being part of this great project of our Franciscan family. I reached in Rome two months ago and I am in the process of accommodating myself and getting used to my new house and to this pastoral work that the Order has entrusted to me and I assume it with a great desire to continue learning and sharing the rich experience of our Franciscan spirituality.

The first topic I would like to deal with is about the challenging relationship between the OFS and YouFra. When we talk about relationship in the human sense, it implies an encounter, a bond and an exchange. But, even more, in the Franciscan world, it is marked by the experience that Francis of Assisi had with Christ who was poor and crucified for love. Through this experience, Francis showed us the wonderful gift of the fatherhood God and the brotherhood among us, his children.


  • Koinonia 2019-4“The Relationship between OFS and YouFra: Challenges and hopes”– Fr. Claudio Hernán Eguzquiza Rodríguez, TOR

N. 104

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DOC : EnglishItalianoEspañolFrançais

Participation in COP25, Madrid

The UN Climate Conference (Cop25) began on Dec. 2 ended on Dec. 15, which was two days longer than its original schedule. The JPIC Commission of the Holy Korean Martyrs Province of Korea has participated along with its ally NGOs. Cop 25 was inaugurated with an ambitious theme, ‘Time for Action,’ but even though it was recorded as the longest Cop in history, the international delegates didn’t reach an agreement on several sensitive issues without any meaningful progress in the negotiation. Moreover, it was quite frustrating that the crying voice of the people in Chile and other neighboring countries suddenly disappeared in the mass media as the venue was shifted from Santiago to Madrid.

Here are some points that were significant at Cop25:

  1. Major points of negotiation
  • Climate adaptation, fiscal expansion and more ambitious emission target
  • Agendas such as Double Counting, Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), Corresponding Adjustments, and Certified Emission Reduction (CER) in the International Carbon Market (Paris Agreement, Article 6)
  • Transparency, Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)
  • Loss & Damage


  1. Interests of the Governments and Corporates

The main concern of governments and negotiators is focused on the international trade markets that are transformed through the UN Climate Conference. In particular, they seek to reach a consensus over the interpretation of the market mechanism in article 6 of the Paris Agreement without giving up their national interests.


  1. Interests of the Civil Society and Religious Communities

As it was evident in the atmosphere at the Climate Summit, when compared to the Cop21, Paris, the civil society and religious communities were losing their interests in the UN Climate Conference. The main concerns of the UN and governmental delegations are strictly aligned with market capitalism, and they negotiate only for their interests. Therefore, civil society and religious communities should emphasize Just Transition, not the discussion based on the logic of market capitalism. In order to implement climate justice, responsibility for loss and damage to indigenous peoples in climate-affected areas must precede the carbon market discussion. To do this, phrases about loss and damage must be embodied in the agreement, but Europe and the United States are opposed to it.


  1. Strengthening Climate Justice Network on Global Issues

The Korean delegation consisted of the NGOs such as the Energy Climate Policy Research Institute, Green Korea, ICE (Interreligious Climate & Ecology) Network, Green Asia, and OFM JPIC Commission of the Korean Province. The participation in Cop 25 was smaller than ever before. There is hardly any networking between various organizations for climate justice in Asia or any other country. Indeed, civil society in Korea has not focused on the global climate crisis while focusing on several domestic issues. In the future, we will face the task of expanding the coalition for climate justice through international networking as well as training experts on the climate crisis. Religious communities also need to be more sensitive to the gravity of the climate crisis. After all, the Gospel is not about seeking only for the individualistic relief but the spirituality of community and solidarity.


Br. Aloysio Kim, OFM
JPIC Animator, Province of Holy Korean Martyrs – Seoul

Christmas Letter of the Minister General 2019

We are only a few days away from the celebration of the Lord’s Nativity, and I see this as an opportunity for each of us to prepare ourselves personally and as a community to enter deeply into the mysteries of the Incarnate Word. We are grateful for the Message of the Minister General, who invites us to celebrate the love of God, present in history and who offers us peace.

I wish to inform you that I was able to travel to Chicago to meet Br. Michael A. Perry, ofm, Minister General. Thanks be to God and the prayers of the sisters and brothers, his recovery is well underway. It is hoped that he can return to his ministry in Rome during the session of the General Definitory in January 2020.

Let us ask the Good Lord to help us to celebrate with renewed wonder and joy the end-of-year festivities, in fraternity and with the people of God, with whom we prepare the Crib because “There simplicity is given a place of honour, poverty is exalted, humility is commended” (1Cel 85).

I wish you a Holy Christmas and a blessed New Year.


Rome, 12 December 2019


Br. Julio César Bunader, OFM
Vicar General



Become Humble Servants of the God who Humbled Self for the Sake of All


My dear Brothers, dear Friends of the Order,

May the Lord give you peace!

Today we join with the entire created universe in singing a hymn of praise and thanksgiving for the wonderful love and mercy of God poured out in Christ Jesus! We embrace and make our own the message of the prophet Isaiah that we hear in the morning liturgy for Christmas:

Hark! Your sentinels raise a cry, together they shout for joy,
for they see directly, before their eyes, the LORD restoring Zion.


PDF:  English – Español – Italiano – Deutsch – Français – Hrvatski – Polski – Português


In this text from Second Isaiah, the return of the Covenant people from Babylonian exile to Jerusalem, the Holy City, is proclaimed as an imminent reality, something that will occur. The people are desperately waiting. They were exhausted from having to live outside of their homes and their homeland, with no place to call their own. Even when they were finally allowed to return to their homeland, as reflected in Third Isaiah, they found themselves yet again in difficulty and suffering from deep, existential, and spiritual exhaustion. They soon discovered they could not simply live on the ‘fumes’ of the faith of their ancestors, a faith steeped in an absolute trust in God who called to Abraham and Sarah, to Moses and Miriam, to go out from their securities and to embrace a new vision and a new land that God was promising to them. These same people were progressively exhausted from the abuses of leaders within the community — both religious and political — who were more focused on amassing power and riches for themselves and their family and friends than they were in living just and spiritually truthful lives. They were exhausted from the external pressures placed upon them to conform to the religious, cultural, philosophical and ethical mores of their times.  They were exhausted from living in fear: the fear of losing their religious and cultural identity; the fear of losing hope in the God who had brought their ancestors out of bondage in Egypt and into the promised land, and who had now offered them the possibility to return home.

It is within this context of estrangement and the weakening of the bonds of faith and fraternity that the words of the Prophet Isaiah must be understood. Despite all of their failures, somehow there persisted among the people a deep longing for something — or better yet someone — who would bring them a message of hope, the return of the Lord into their midst, for only when the Lord returns to Zion, when the Lord is placed at the center of all human and spiritual concerns, then would the people find the way back to their true identity, their true home.

What was true then for the people of God remains true today: it is God who initiates this process of restoration, a restoration that leads us along the way of holiness of life, a daily living out of our faith, and also to a practice of the justice and peace of God. But is not this restoration at the heart of the Christmas story? Is not the event of the Incarnation of Jesus, his coming among us as ‘one like us’, his sharing with us a new vision of how we might once again walk in the love, mercy, justice, truth, and peace of God, at the very center of our identity as Christian disciples and as Lesser Brothers? My dear Brothers, the answer to both of these questions can only be discovered as we live faithfully the vocation to which we have been called and for which we have been chosen and sent.

Returning to Second Isaiah for a moment, the text makes clear that it will be from from the battlefield that a messenger will be sent to proclaim that God has been victorious and that the suffering of the people is over. Now they can prepare themselves spiritually, morally, and psychologically to return back ‘home’. However, there is a twist to this story. The messenger is none other than God’s Self who comes in triumph. The Lord returns! And the battlefield is a confrontation between God and all of human history. God comes not only to deliver and redeem Jerusalem; God comes to deliver and redeem all the nations and all of history: past, present, and future. The message of the Prophet opens God’s offer of salvation to all peoples everywhere, to each of us today who have been sealed by the blood of the Lamb. No longer is it limited only to those considered part of the original ‘Covenant’. This is an outrageous declaration, heresy, since it admits that God might be working even outside the doctrinally approved and ritually purified perimeters of the “chosen people.” God might be working even in cultures that are not yet purified, that are still ‘on the way towards holiness’, that are slowly passing through a process of inculturation and purification. God might even be working with people who have experiences of God, who conceive of and perform actions of worship little understood by those outside of their cultures and traditions but which are genuine acts of worship, actions leading towards a worship of the one universal Creator God. Thus, the victory that is declared on the battlefield of history is not a victory for this or that king, this or that country, this or that religious or political ideology, this or that culture or race or people. The victory that Isaiah announces belongs to God alone. God is drawing all peoples towards God’s Self, expressed through a variety of forms since no singular expression is capable of containing all of who God is and what God intends for the world.

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings glad tidings,

announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation, and saying to Zion,

“Your God is King!”


My dear Brothers and Friends, this brings us to the very heart of the Christmas story we celebrate today. The singular event of the Incarnation, God’s taking human form, stripping Self in order to enter into our human condition, is a witness to God’s redeeming love and grace, God’s commitment to enter into and redeem all of life without exception, without exclusion. The peace, good news, and salvation spoken of by the Prophet Isaiah is a declaration that God reigns over all that seeks to divide and destroy us and the natural environment. This victory is not grounded in an ideology of power and might, as the world currently envisages. Rather, it is a victory grounded in the unconditional love and mercy of God, which has no parallel in human history or the natural Order.  This unconditional love and mercy is expressed not through might and right, but through what Pope Francis calls “the humility of God taken to the extreme” (Christmas homily 2018). Pope Francis continues:

It is the love with which, that night, he assumed our frailty, our suffering, our anxieties, our desires and our limitations. The message that everyone was expecting, that everyone was searching for in the depths of their souls, was none other than the tenderness of God: God who looks upon us with eyes full of love, who accepts our poverty, God who is in love with our smallness.

The Incarnation is, fundamentally, a relational event. God chooses to enter into deeper communion with us so that we, like the people of Isaiah’s times, might recognize the saving grace and greatness in which we have been created and to which we are called as beloved children of the Triune God. Recognizing the truth that God seeks to share with all of humanity and creation, we in turn become humble servants of the God who humbled Self for the sake of all that God has created. But was this not also at the heart of the message of the 2018 Plenary Council of the Order? Is this not also the trajectory of the Order as we begin to look towards the 2021 General Chapter?

Humility; smallness; poverty; tenderness; love; acceptance. These words help us to better understand the nature of this Christmas celebration, and how we are to live and witness to the incredible event of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ in our lives today. We have only to recall the role of these same words, or better yet, the attributes of Christian discipleship and Franciscan life and mission manifested in the life of St. Francis of Assisi. He progressively came to discover in his life, in the life of his brothers, in the life of those who were materially poor and socially excluded, in the life of the Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil and others who did not profess the Christian faith, and in all of creation, the transformative power contained not in God’s ‘greatness’ but rather in God’s ‘smallness’. Francis perceived in the smallness and poverty of the manger a love so strong and deep as to be capable of melting hardened hearts and breaking all barriers separating people one from another – geographical, cultural, social, religious, and other. It is by the grace of the Incarnation that new pathways for encounter, dialogue, discovery, forgiveness, and human fraternity are created and maintained. Only those who are steeped in the logic of God’s ‘Incarnational’ love will be able to reach out to those otherwise discounted and excluded: migrants and refugees; those who profess other religious ideas and practices; those who we are told are our ‘enemies’ when, in the logic of God’s Incarnation, they are our brothers and sisters; a wounded creation, exhausted and under threat from unbridled and immoral exploitation.

As we celebrate the unfathomable love and mercy of God which entered into human history in a unique and powerful manner through the Incarnation of Jesus, let us welcome God’s invitation for us to become the very presence of God’s offer of shalom, peace, to all around us. Let us commit to the pillars upon which this peace is constructed: truth, justice, love, freedom, and forgiveness (cf. John XXIII, Pacem in Terris; John Paul II). May this same gift of peace, fully embodied in great gift of God to the world, God’s beloved Son Jesus, fill our hearts with joy. May it give direction to our fraternities. And may it help shape the very substance and form of our mission as co-disciples with all Christians, journeying together with Jesus, with all of humanity, and with the created universe on the road towards God’s kingdom.

A blessed and peace-filled Christmas to each and every one of you!


Rome, 12 December 2019
Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

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




Image: Jacob van Oost, Adoration of the Shepherds, Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna

Going to the Other Side: Study Trip in Egypt for the Franciscans of France

In this year when the Franciscan family celebrates the spirit of openness and encounter on the part of Francis of Assisi, the Province of Blessed John Duns Scotus partnered with the Bishops’ Conference of France and their National Organization for Relations with Muslims (Service national pour les relations avec les musulmans) to have a study trip in Egypt in honor of the 1219 meeting between St. Francis and Sultan al-Kamil. Taking place between November 21st and December 1st 2019, this event involved around 40 people—members of the Franciscan family as well as people engaged in interreligious dialogue within their dioceses, parishes, or other associations—who departed in order to uncover the state of Muslim-Christian dialogue in Egypt today.

The study trip was led by Bishop Rubén Tierrablanca González, OFM (Apostolic Vicar of Istanbul), Fr. Vincent Feroldi (Director of the National Organization for Relations with Muslims), Fr. Stéphane Delavelle, OFM (member of the Franciscan community in Meknes, Morocco), and Fr. Dominique Joly, OFM (Director of Pèlerinages Franciscains). At its heart, the goal of the trip was to go and listen to the experience of our brothers and sisters in Egypt. To this end, our group was welcomed by the Franciscans of the Custody of the Holy land who live at the Muski friary and by the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary who are present in the Zamalek neighborhood of Cairo. After seeing the Franciscan Center for Eastern Studies, we also visited the friars of the Egyptian Province of the Holy Family and the incredible orphanage founded by them over 70 years ago in Cairo’s Mokattam neighborhood.

During the day-long celebration of the 800th anniversary of the encounter at Damietta, the group had the pleasure of attending a play depicting the encounter between Francis and the Sultan, held at the school of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. These sisters lead a school of 1000 students, both Christian and Muslim, being one of 175 Catholic schools within the country. In the presence of Mr. François Pugeaut, General Consul of France in Cairo, and Mrs. Manal Awad Mikhail, the first female Christian governor of the region of Damietta, we commemorated the continuing importance of the 1219 encounter for our world today.

Some of the rich exchanges had by our group included one with the members of the Focolare movement in Alexandria and another with the Dominican friars at the Dominican Institute for Oriental Studies. Studying Arabic Islam and its original sources with a view to fostering a rich academic and interreligious dialogue, the latter group works in close connection with Al-Azhar University and supports young Muslim researchers who wish to deepen their understanding of their own texts by using modern methodologies and tools. Indeed, this discussion helped us to identify the challenges which Islam itself faces today.

The group also experienced an encounter with the other through the time spent with our brothers and sisters of the Coptic-Orthodox Church, particularly the private audience that was so kindly granted by Patriarch Tawadros II and then also by Bishop Anba Thomas, bishop of El-Qussia and Mair Diocese. Theirs is the heritage of a church founded by St. Mark and the Desert Fathers, one which they opened up to us. In this time of Advent and with the intercession of the Holy Family who accompanied us throughout this voyage, we are grateful for all the things that allowed us to go deeper into the encounter between St. Francis and Sultan Malik al-Kamil.

In the words which Friar Stéphane Delavelle used to close the trip, “The ‘encounter’ is, above all, the fruit of a friendship and a form of expatriation. We go out of ourselves to enter anew into the land of another, their history, their culture, their upbringing… Often our desire to encounter the other is suffocated by our desire to convince them. But if we do not take the risk of receiving the other as they are and not making a push, with the conviction that Jesus Christ is strong enough in us… only then will we be able to allow ourselves to be transformed by this encounter and to go even more deeply into our own faith. Dialogue is indispensable because ‘God has started a conversation with the world,’ as Paul VI said. Christ took the first step and, in turn, invites us to go towards the other as well. This desire for encounter and for dialogue is a part of our Christian identity.”

Notably, this study trip included the presence of four journalists from the French Catholic television network KTO. For those who speak French, the documentary that they produced (55 minutes in length) can be found here: www.youtube.com

Emilie Rey
Commission du Jubilé Damiette 2019 en France
(Commission for the 2019 Celebration of Damiette in France)

Venerable Marie Louise of the Blessed Sacrament, Foundress of the Franciscan Sisters Adorers of the Holy Cross




On 11 December 2019, the Holy Father Francis received in audience His Eminence Cardinal Angelo Becciu, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. He authorized the promulgation of the Decree concerning the miracle attributed to the intercession of the Venerable Servant of God Mary Louise of the Blessed Sacrament (formerly Maria Velotti), foundress of the  Franciscan Sisters Adorers of the Holy Cross, born in Soccavo near Naples on 16 November 1826 and died in Casoria (Naples) on 3 September 1886.


Venerable Marie Louise of the Blessed Sacrament

Maria Velotti was born in Soccavo, Naples in 1826. From a young age, she lived Franciscan spirituality under the guidance of the Friars Minor as a laywoman professed in the Third Order of St. Francis of Assisi. She was perfected in the way of poverty and humility and was favoured by unique mystical gifts of union with the Passion of the Lord. After spending several years in prayer and penance, in 1877 she founded the new religious family of the Franciscan Sisters Adorers of the Holy Cross for the education of girls and the promotion of women. In this way, with her work, she was fully immersed in the extraordinary season of social charity that characterized the Church of Naples in the 1800s. She died in the motherhouse of the Institute in Casoria in 1886, surrounded by a vast reputation for holiness. The recognition of the miracle worked by God through her intercession officially opens the way to beatification.





International Fraternity in Brussels Concludes 2019 Missionary Course

The course ended with a pilgrimage to Assisi and neighbouring places. For three months, from September to November 2019, 10 Franciscan Friars (3 OFM., 4 OFMCap. and 3 OFMConv.) came from different countries of Asia and Africa.

In our international fraternity of Nôtre Dame de Nations, there is a centre for the preparation of missionaries, both English and French-speaking. The course that has just ended was for English speakers. The other, for French-speaking missionaries, will take place in March 2020.

For three months the missionaries have the opportunity not only to share their different experiences but also to learn about other experiences in Europe and to discuss various topics, such as the history of the missions, interculturality, new evangelization, Justice and Peace, etc. These issues help update them and enable them to carry out their missionary work inter gentes better.



Franciscan Mission in Cuba: Three Months ‘Come and See’

Three friars, from Guatemala, Mexico/USA and Ireland/Central America, members of the International Mission in Cuba have completed one year and a half in November of this year, just as four new friars arrived. They are from Bosnia, Egypt, USA and Brazil.  Internationality is also strongly reflected in the one hundred and twenty other religious congregations working here. The objective of the three months is to provide a space to see and discern, before making a definitive decision to opt for Cuba.  The programme includes theoretical content, pastoral experiences both in the city and countryside and personal accompaniment.

Friars are studying a variety of themes, including the history of Cuba and of the Church here; religious syncretism (especially the influence of African religions); political, economic and social realities; Christianity in a Marxist environment, the history of religious life, as well as the present reality and many other themes.

They will also spend a month living and working in the east and the centre of the country. They will be hosted by two dioceses – Bayamo and Ciego de Avila – which have been identified as places very much in need of missionary support. Both dioceses had significant OFM presences in the past. It is hoped that our presence will extend once again outside of the capital.

Based on experiences, a one-page series of criteria has been developed, to help friars and their provincials discern missionary vocations for Cuba. If anyone is interested, please contact the mission office in Rome, or the friars in Cuba at gfoconaireofm@gmail.com

St. Francis Patron of Ecologists: Fortieth Anniversary Celebration

Forty years have passed since St. John Paul II declared St. Francis of Assisi patron of ecologists in the Bull Inter Sanctos of 29 November 1979.

Gradually a process of greater awareness of the care of creation has been developing in the Church. Since the 1980s, the Order has been reflecting, discerning and promoting actions that favour an awareness of the environmental crisis that we face these days. During his pontificate, St. John Paul II introduced the reflection on “the ecological question” in the Church, presenting St. Francis of Assisi as a model.

During the present pontificate of Pope Francis, once again the focus has been on the Saint of Assisi, being offered as a model of an authentically integral life, where the concern for creation also touches social issues. In the encyclical Laudato si,’ we repeatedly find the figure of St. Francis, through his lifestyle and perfect relationship with all creation. Let us remember that the Canticle of the Creatures gives the name to this encyclical.

In celebrating the 40th anniversary of St. Francis, patron of ecologists, the JPIC Office of the Order wanted to commemorate this date in a symbolic place for Franciscan spirituality: St. Damian’s Church in Assisi. In this small church on the outskirts of Assisi, St. Francis confronts his vocation with Christ and begins to do penance. In this same place, two years before his death, he composes the Canticle of Creatures where he synthesizes his strong human commitment to all creation to praise God.

Together with the World Catholic Climate Movement, we organized an act of prayer and reflection on the canticle of creatures in St. Damian. We were accompanied by about one hundred young people from Assisi, as well as the mayor of Assisi, Stefania Proietti, Bishop Domenico Sorrentino, Bishop of Assisi, P. Josh Kureethadam, S.D.B. of the Commission for Creation of the Dicastery for integral human development, the brothers of the fraternity of San Damiano (Novitiate) and the JPIC animators of the Italian Conference (COMPI). After the prayer, we marched to the main square of Assisi to join the millions of young people around the world who demand new policies in the face of the climate crisis. The “climate strike” march ended in front of the city hall of Assisi, where the young people shouted: “Laudato si”! For an integral ecology, live Laudato si’.

Venerable Olinto Fedi, Founder of the Institute of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate




On Thursday, 28 November 2019, the Holy Father Francis received His Eminence the Most Reverend Cardinal Angelo Becciu, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints,  and authorized the promulgation of Decrees regarding:

the heroic virtues of the Servant of God Olinto Fedi, diocesan priest, Founder of the Institute of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate, born in Signa, Florence, on 3 October 1841, and died there on 23 January 1923.


The Venerable Olinto Fedi (1841-1923) was a priest of the diocese of Florence. He exercised his pastoral activity in the parish of San Mauro a Signa, for about 60 years, from 1864 to his death. Attracted to Franciscan spirituality, he professed the rule of the Third Order and in 1876 founded the Institute of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate with its headquarters in San Piero a Ponti. Through them, he was able to organize an effective program of catechesis and support, according to the people’s needs. He was a model of pastoral charity entirely dedicated to the good of his faithful. He promoted the formation of consciences, associations of Catholic laity, and the defence of workers’ rights. His cause for beatification began in 1999.


Communique from the General Definitory – Tempo Forte of November 2019

Due to the meeting of the General Definitory with the General Visitors, the opening of the working sessions was brought forward to Friday, 8 November. Since the Minister General was still absent, the Vicar General, Br. Julio César BUNADER, presided over the meetings.

The first session was entirely devoted to sharing on the activity carried out by the members of the General Definitory in the weeks after the Tempo Forte in September.

During the following sessions, some issues related to the personnel of the Houses of Rome dependent on the General Minister (General Curia, International College of St. Anthony and College of Lateran Penitentiaries) were discussed.

Br. Estevão OTTENBREIT was elected Visitator General to the Fraternity of the College of Penitentiaries of the Papal Archbasilica of St. John Lateran.

Several dossiers were dealt with from the General Procurator’s Office, including the following requests for:

  • information on accusations concerning graviora delicta (2);
  • information re friars in more uxorio relationships (2);
  • dispensation from the obligations deriving from the clerical state and solemn vows (3);
  • secularisation pure et simpliciter (2);
  • dispensation from solemn vows (3)
  • dispensation from temporary vows (1).


The candidates for service as Minister Provincial for the Province of St. Francis of Assisi in Vietnam were approved.

The Acts of the elections that took place were ratified:

  • in the Chapter of the Province of St. Francis in Brazil (Porto Alegre);
  • in the “intermediate” chapters (election of Definitors) of the Provinces of St. Francis in Quito (Ecuador), St. Philip of Jesus (Mexico) and St. Francis Solanus (Argentina);
  • in the Capitular Congresses of 6 Provinces and 1 Custody;
  • extra-capitular: 10 Guardians in four different entities.


Eight Reports presented by the Visitators General at the end of their service were analysed and discussed; so too was the Report on the situation of the two Apostolic Vicariates of Libya, entrusted to the care of the Minister General.

The General Definitory met with Br. John PUODZIUNAS, General Treasurer, who presented the 2020 Budget for the Houses and Entities that are headed by the General Curia; other economic and financial issues were also discussed.

The General Secretariat for Formation and Studies, represented by Br. Cesare VAIANI and Br. Siniša BALJIĆ, shared with the Definitory the activities carried out and presented the outlook on some projects and proposals.

Br. Witosław J. STYK, head of the organising committee of the Chapter of Mats of the Friars Under 10, held from 7 to 14 July 2019 in Taizé, France, shared an evaluation of the event with the Definitory. In general, it was much appreciated by the participants, despite some logistical difficulties that emerged during  the Chapter.

In addition, the General Definitory examined the Evaluation Report of the first ongoing formation course organized by the Inter-obediential Fraternity of Emmaus-Qubeibe (Holy Land) in October of this year, which was attended by eight Brothers (6 OFMConv and 2 OFM), who were very satisfied with the experience.

On 15 and 16 November, the Chapter of Mats of the Friars Living in the Houses of Rome Dependent on the Minister General took place at the Shrine of Our Lady of Divino Amore in Rome. About sixty Friars took part in this event, including the members of the General Definitory.

From 18 to 22 November, the General Definitory met with twenty General Visitators at the General Curia who are engaged in the Canonical Visitation of twenty entities preparing to celebrate their Chapter.

The next Tempo Forte will take place from 12 to 18 December and will be primarily a fraternal occasion to review the annual work of the General Definitory.

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


Rome, 27 November 2019


Br. Giovanni Rinaldi, OFM
Secretary General

Braving a Conversation – The Sultan and the Saint celebrated in Calgary, Canada

2019 has marked the 800th Anniversary of the meeting between St. Francis of Assisi and Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil. There have been celebrations, declarations, dialogues, prayers and presentations the world over to mark this occasion. On November 20, Franciscans from Mount St. Francis (Holy Spirit Province Canada) along with the Calgary Interfaith Council and the Calgary Chapter of the Order of St. Lazarus marked this historic event in Calgary, at the B’nai Tikvah Synagogue.

Over one hundred people were inspired and encouraged by the presentations of Br. Jason Welle, OFM, Dean of the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies, Rome and Imam Fayaz Tilly, Chaplain, University of Calgary.

Br. Jason opened the evening with a historical perspective of the encounter between St. Francis and the Sultan. His thought-provoking presentation wove together the facts and truths we know of the encounter, addressed the unknowns of the conversation and reminded those present that the encounter is a “sign of hope in dark ages both then and now.” Br. Jason proposed that this encounter is beyond inter-religious dialogue, it is deeper than friendship, rather it is about brotherhood and sisterhood. Human fraternity is the strongest message of the encounter between St. Francis of Assisi and Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil, one that Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmad Al-Tayyeb addressed in their joint document “Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together.”

Imam Fayaz Tilly continued on in this same strain as he echoed what Br. Jason had highlighted from the document, “In the name of God who has created all human beings equal in rights, duties and dignity, and who has called them to live together as brothers and sisters, to fill the earth and make known the values of goodness, love and peace.” Imam Fayaz in his story-telling enthusiasm reminded the participants that on this planet, “we are one community – one fraternity of brotherhood and sisterhood.” Tilly offered insights and reflections from “prophets” of our times including Mohamad Ali and Mother Teresa as a means of highlighting the greatness of our human fraternity. He highlighted that Islam teaches that we are brother and sister called to love and that like St. Francis of Assisi we must make our walking our preaching.

Both Br. Jason and Imam Fayaz Tilly left those in attendance with the gift of hope. A hope that lives within each of us and calls us to live each day as brother and sister part of the human fraternity – one race which must “continue the conversation and brave the dialogue.”