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BEATIFICATION OF VENERABLE COSMAS SPESSOTTO, OFM

The beatification of the martyr Father Cosmas Spessotto, OFM, an Italian missionary priest in Central America, will be celebrated on Saturday 22 January in the cathedral of San Salvador (El Salvador). Jesuit Father Rutilio Grande and the two laymen Manuel Solórzano and Nelson Rutilio will also be beatified during the same celebration. Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez, auxiliary bishop of San Salvador, will preside over the Eucharist on behalf of Pope Francis.

On the evening of Saturday 14 June 1980, in the Friars Minor parish of San Juan Nonualco (El Salvador), Father Cosmas Spessotto, who had just finished celebrating Mass, was shot dead while praying beside the tabernacle. “His blood shed near the altar, poured into his parish church, the one he himself had built, and poured into the Christian community, the one he had built with his own sweat. Father Cosmas kneaded his Church with his own blood, giving his life for the flock”. It was the epilogue of what he had foreseen, writing a few days earlier on a sheet of paper left in view on his desk: “Beware, in case of sudden death. I feel that from one moment to the next fanatical people can take my life. I ask the Lord that He give me the strength to defend the rights of Christ and the Church at the right moment. To die a martyr would be a grace I do not deserve…”.

He had arrived in El Salvador thirty years earlier, in April 1950. The son of hard-working peasant parents, he was born in Mansué (Treviso, Italy) on 28 January 1923 and embraced religious life among the Friars Minor of Veneto in 1939. After his years of formation and ordination to the priesthood, which he received in the Basilica of the Madonna della Salute in Venice on 27 June 1948, he asked to be allowed to leave for China as a missionary. However, the political events of the time prevented him from going east, so his superiors decided to send him to the Franciscan mission in Central America. His first destination in El Salvador was the parish of San Pedro Nonualco, in the diocese of San Vicente, in the department of La Paz. After three years, he was transferred to the neighbouring parish of San Juan Nonualco, three kilometres from Zacatecoluca.

During his 27 years as parish priest, he built a new church and a school for the poorest youth. But above all, he was committed to the spiritual formation of the community. He placed prayer and the exercise of charity at the basis of his intense pastoral activity. When visiting families in the most remote places, he distributed food, clothing, medicine and above all, the Gospel. It was precisely his frequent visits to the villages in the “red zone” that aroused suspicion about him. El Salvador was going through a challenging time, a chaotic situation of lack of respect for the human person, which resulted in civil war. His concern for the poor was interpreted as conniving with and aiding and abetting the left-wing guerrillas recruited from among the poorer classes. He was guilty of defending his catechists who had been unjustly detained, burying the abandoned bodies of some guerrillas killed in the clashes, and sacramentally accepting a penitent involved in the guerrillas.

As soon as the news of the murder spread, many faithful flocked to pay homage to the martyr. On 16 June 1980, the Bishop of San Vicente presided over the funeral mass.

The cause for beatification began on 14 June 2000. Pope Francis authorised the publication of the Decree super martyrio on 26 May 2020.

VENERABLE SERVANT OF GOD MARIA TERESA DE VINCENTI

GENERAL POSTULATION OFM – APPROVAL OF VIRTUES DECREE

On 20 January 2021, the Holy Father Francis received His Eminence Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. During the audience, the Supreme Pontiff authorised the Congregation to promulgate the Decree concerning the heroic virtues of the Servant of God Maria Teresa De Vincenti (known in the world as Raffaella), Foundress of The Little Workers of the Sacred Hearts, born in Acri (Cosenza-Italy) on 1 May 1872, and died there on 23 November 1936.

The Venerable Maria Teresa De Vincenti (1872-1936), from her youth cooperated with Blessed Francesco Maria Greco (1857-1931), parish priest of San Nicola in Acri (Cosenza-Italy), in parish catechesis and Catholic associationism. In 1894 she consecrated herself to the Lord with private religious vow, and in 1898, with some companions, she founded the Institute of The Little Workers of the Sacred Hearts. Under her leadership, the sisters, like humble ”workers” of the Kingdom of God, dedicated themselves to carrying out the apostolate and the service of the promotion of human dignity in the poorest and most isolated villages of Calabria, opening schools, kindergartens, and homes for the elderly, with particular attention to the Greek-Albanian rite ecclesial communities of the region. After the death of the Founder in 1931, Mother Mary Theresa remained alone at the helm of the Institute, but with unwavering fidelity she brought to completion the work that God had entrusted to her. She fell asleep in the Lord on 23rd November 1936 in the mother house in Acre.

The Cause of Beatification was entrusted to the Rev. P. Luca M. De Rosa, OFM, Postulator General, in 1999.

CTC No. 58 (12.2021)

No. 58 of the issue “Communion and Communication”, comes to you in a time of ‘transitions’. You will receive it between the celebration of expectation (Advent season) and that of fulfilment (Christmas), and you will probably read it between 2021 and the New Year 2022.

Before all this, however, in the Office of the Pro Monialibus of the General Curia, there will be the handover between Br Ignacio Ceja and Br Fábio Gomes: this time you will receive two letters from the Office!

We would like to express a huge “THANK YOU” to Br Ignacio in these simple lines of the presentation. The support and accompaniment that he has offered us during these months of his service, made more difficult by the limitation of movement, and therefore of visiting the sisters, has made us more aware of the sensitive quality of his brotherly heart: a gift we wish to cherish. In our prayers, we will continue to present you to the Lord, Br Ignacio, fraternally sharing in the mission where He is already waiting for you.

A warm “WELCOME”, Br Fábio! Thank you for accepting the obedience to walk alongside the sisters all over the world, for the time that will be granted us. You are a sign of Francis’ fraternal care for the Poor Sisters now.

The fruitfulness of the relationship between the Friars Minor and the Poor Clares, a manifestation of the charism we have received, is highlighted by the stories of experiences and reflections that come from India, Taiwan, Nicaragua, Uganda, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Holy Land, and France, echoes of the life of our Sisters and Brothers there.

Federations that are blossoming (in Bosnia and Herzegovina), others that restarted after the Federal Assembly (Federation Santa Clara, Mexico); communities that generate other communities (Rwanda): all transitions of life towards a greater, fuller life.

The great Centenary that the Franciscan Family began to celebrate in 2021 also includes the implantatio Ordinis in Germany: our Sisters of Brixen (Italy) reminded us of this.

A section of this issue is dedicated to our brother Fernando Mendoza Laguna, whose sudden death has left us so dismayed… he, who for so many years opened the ‘cTc’ with his letter to the Sisters, we now want to conclude this number in his memory. We know that now, and even more so in the future, we will be protected by his prayer and cheered by his smile.

Happy reading!

The Sisters of the editorial team

 

Download PDF – CTC No. 58 (12.2021)

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The Minister General celebrates the Feast of the Order’s Protomartyrs

The Holy Protomartyrs of the Order fulfilled the desire for martyrdom of Francis, Clare and Anthony of Padua, who decided to embrace the folly of the Gospel at the passing of their relics”, said Br Massimo Fusarelli, Minister General, in his homily delivered in Terni on Sunday 16 January on the occasion of the Feast of the Protomartyrs of the Order. The Minister was welcomed by the Provincial of the Seraphic Province of St Francis of Assisi, Br Francesco Piloni, together with the friars of the Friary and numerous faithful.

Br Andrea Natale, Guardian of the Friary in Terni, spoke of the importance of this visit, which was centred around a beautiful and moving celebration during which the Minister General also announced his forthcoming visit to Morocco, the place of martyrdom of the Protomartyrs.

In the Friary of Terni, there are five friars who devote themselves to the pastoral service of a large parish, accompanying families, young people, various groups and collaborating actively with the Diocesan Caritas in assisting the poor.

 

Full text of the Minister General’s homily:

Feast of the Franciscan Protomartyrs
16 January 2022 in Terni  

We have heard the words of St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 4:9, “For I think that God has exhibited us, apostles, as last of all, as though sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels and to mortals”. The Apostle recognises a condition of humiliation as a characteristic of the ministry: our strength is the power of God acting in us, weak and small.

The Gospel of Mt 10:16 told us just as clearly: “See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves”. Jesus does not send us to win and triumph but to radically surrender ourselves as unarmed to the power of the other. The path is traced by Jesus himself, who handed himself over to his enemies, letting them do with him what they wanted.

St Francis walked in this Gospel spirit. He saw the presence and work of the friars as heralds of the Gospel, citing Mt 10:16 in chapter 16 of the Earlier Rule when he allowed the friars “who by divine inspiration wish to go among the Saracens and other nonbelievers” to go. It is precisely with this word that Saint Francis saw the mission. And in the same chapter, he tells the brothers to “remain subject to every human creature for God’s sake and to confess that they are Christians”.

The Christian missionary is fully open to the Gospel before opening to people. The more vulnerable he is to the Gospel and its inverted reasoning, the more others can do what they want with him. Again, Francis tells the friars in the same chapter: “let all my brothers remember that they have given themselves and abandoned their bodies to the Lord Jesus Christ. For love of Him, they must make themselves vulnerable to their enemies, both visible and invisible”.

Here is the Wisdom of the Cross that overturns every human calculation. For St Francis, a person’s value does not lie in his own strength. Let us listen to him:

“Even if you were more handsome and richer than everyone else, and even if you worked miracles so that you put demons to flight: all these things are contrary to you; nothing belongs to you; you can boast in none of these things. But we can boast in our weaknesses and in carrying each day the holy cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Adm V, 7-8).

For Francis, the evangelical style of his life and that of his friars is the first form of evangelisation. Only a Christian who has allowed himself to be transformed by the logic of the Cross can truly proclaim the Gospel, allowing it to take flesh in us and thus be a credible word for others.

In Admonition VI, Saint Francis returns to this and confirms it: “Let all of us, brothers, consider the Good Shepherd Who bore the suffering of the cross to save His sheep. The Lord’s sheep followed Him in tribulation and persecution, in shame and hunger, in weakness and temptation, and in other ways; and for these things they received eternal life from the Lord.” (vv. 1-2). The way of the mission is to follow, to remain on the path of Jesus.

The Protomartyrs of our Order, whom we celebrate today next to their precious relics, are brothers who took this word in a radical, almost crazy way. They followed the Lord in suffering and persecution, rejection, and even physical violence. They have become so conformed to the poor and crucified Christ that they wish to be truly with Him, like Him, behind Him.

“There is in the whole of the original Franciscan spirituality a characteristic aspiration, that of the imitation of the Lord, to the extreme consequences; now is it not said of the Lord that “he offered himself because he wanted to”? (Is 53,7) Does not the Lord himself say: “. . I give my life . . . No one takes it away from me, but I give it of myself. . .”? (Jn 10,17-18) It is true that “no one should spontaneously give himself to death” (S. AUG., De civ. Dei, 1, 26; PL 41, 39), that “one should not give others the opportunity to act unjustly” (Summ. Theol, ibid. II-II 124,1 ad 3); but, as Benedict XIV himself notes, referring to similar cases, there can be situations in which, either by the impulse of the Holy Spirit, or by other special circumstances, the herald of the Gospel has no other way of shaking infidelity than that of making his own blood the voice of an extreme testimony. A testimony that is undoubtedly paradoxical, a shocking testimony, a vain testimony, because it is not immediately accepted, but extremely precious, because the total gift of self validates it; a testimony that makes it supremely clear what martyrdom is. It should be immediate, passive; in hagiographic language, it is called passio; but it is never without a voluntary, active acceptance; which in our case prevails and therefore shines more brightly”. (St. Paul VI, Homily 21 June 1970).

The martyrdom of our Protomartyrs is a dizzying act of extreme and absolute love in the footsteps of the One who gave his life for his friends. It testifies on the one hand to his total fidelity to the Father and on the other hand to the truth of his proclamation, proven by blood. Thus, for his disciples and for us. Martyrdom seals the truth of the Gospel. The Eucharist that we celebrate roots us in this self-giving love.

The Holy Protomartyrs of the Order fulfilled the desire for martyrdom of Francis, Clare and Anthony of Padua, who decided to embrace the folly of the Gospel at the passing of their relics.

Today we remember them. The memory becomes contemporary. The madness of these friars clashes with our modern mentality, so careful to preserve itself, so sceptical and lacking in idealism, ready to settle for a minimal measure of the human.

We admire these martyrs, but at the same time, we feel far from their inner strength. Yet, their example cries out, shaking our numb faith, uncertainty, and wavering.

They provoke us to rediscover the courage of the truth, which is Christ, crucified and risen. Their robust witness poses a difficult question: how should we stand in relation to today’s world, to the society that surrounds us? Should we stand in front of the world rather than alongside it? Should we break our relationship with the time we live in and its contradictory and multiple realities, at the risk of isolating ourselves and making the mission difficult?

Did these Protomartyrs perhaps wish to reject their own time and set themselves apart from it? If we take a good look at them, we recognise that they were moved by a strong and, at the same time, naive love, animated by a mad hope. Perhaps they really thought they could convert those men? They made a miscalculation, but out of love, to benefit others, to open a way for the Gospel. Did they simply reject and even hate the Muslim world? No, because they went among people of a different faith and loved them in their own way, wanting to bring them the love of Christ. This is why, in the light of their example, we can also strive to appreciate as Christians God’s action in other religions, because the Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these religions.

“She has a high regard for their manner of life and conduct, their precepts and doctrines which… often reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all men and women” (Nostra Aetate, 2, quoted by Fratelli Tutti 277). At the same time, the witness of our Protomartyrs reminds us, as Fratelli Tutti says in No. 277, that “Yet we Christians are very much aware that “if the music of the Gospel ceases to resonate in our very being, we will lose the joy born of compassion, the tender love born of trust, the capacity for reconciliation that has its source in our knowledge that we have been forgiven and sent forth. If the music of the Gospel ceases to sound in our homes, our public squares, our workplaces, our political and financial life, then we will no longer hear the strains that challenge us to defend the dignity of every man and woman”. Others drink from other sources. For us the wellspring of human dignity and fraternity is in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. From it, there arises, “for Christian thought and for the action of the Church, the primacy given to relationship, to the encounter with the sacred mystery of the other, to universal communion with the entire human family, as a vocation of all”.

These feelings lead us to celebrate the Lord in the Holy Protomartyrs of the Franciscan Order. I am honoured to do so this year here in Terni, next to their relics.

St Francis reminds us again: “Therefore, it is a great shame for us, the servants of God, that the saints have accomplished great things and we want only to receive glory and honour by recounting them”! (Adm VI, 3).

We do not only want to honour their memory, but to continue to be inspired by their example, to invoke their heavenly protection for the Church, for this Umbrian land from which they departed, for our entire Franciscan family, and the whole world.

 

Br Massimo Fusarelli, ofm
Minister General

 

 

THE PROVINCE OF SAINT CASIMIR IN LITHUANIA ELECTS A NEW PROVINCIAL

“I entrust myself to God to bless this path so that I may serve my brothers properly and justly. That He may allow me to continue living a simple, humble life – and at the same time knowing how to administer the province and listening to the brothers in Lithuania and their needs”. These are the first words of Br Evaldas Darulis, immediately after his election as Minister Provincial of the Province of St Casimir of Lithuania.

The 22 capitulars, gathered in Kretinga, Lithuania, from January 10-13, after electing Br Evaldas, also elected Br Andrius Nenėnas to the office of Vicar Provincial and as Definitors Br Tomas Žymantas, Br Andrius Dobrovolskas, Br Paulius Bytautas and Br Alvydas Virbalis.

The Lithuanian Province currently has 35 friars distributed in eight friaries, six in Lithuania, one in the United States and one in Toronto, Canada. The friars dedicate themselves to the pastoral service of four parishes, evangelisation through digital communications, education of young people and spiritual assistance to the Poor Clares. In addition to the services listed above, the friars are actively involved in charity by running a soup kitchen, helping people with addictions and marginalised groups in society.

Brother Hilton Farias de Souza re-elected Provincial of the Province of the Holy Cross in Brazil

The friars of the Franciscan Province of the Holy Cross in Brazil, meeting in Provincial Chapter from 4 to 10 January 2022 in Santos Dumont (Minas Gerais) re-elected Br Hilton Farias de Souza as Provincial and Br Gabriel José de Lima Neto as Vicar Provincial. The following were elected to the office of Provincial Definitors: Br Arlaton Luiz Soares de Oliveira, Br Valter Pinto Vieira Júnior, Br Adilson Corrêa da Silva and Br Oton da Silva Araújo Júnior.

For the next three years, the capitulars approved the province’s priorities: the protection of vulnerable people, care for creation (agroecology, sustainability, alternative energy production) and “in the formation of brothers and lay people who must evangelise together with the correct use of new digital media and to be witnesses of hope for our time”.

Br Hilton was born in Caraí (Araçuaí), in the State of Minas Gerias. He took his first vows in 1991, solemn vows in 1996 and was ordained a priest on 18 April 1998. This election marks his second term in the office of Provincial.

The Chapter was presided over by Br Reginaldo Rômulo Monte Canto, Visitator General, of the Autonomous Custody of St Benedict in Amazonia, Brazil.

Minister General received in audience by Pope Francis

On 7 January, Pope Francis received the Minister General, Br Massimo Fusarelli, in an audience in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. The Minister was accompanied by the members of the General Definitory, the Procurator General, the Secretary for Evangelisation and Missions, the Secretary General of the Order and the Minister’s Personal Secretary.

At the end of the audience, which lasted 45 minutes, the Minister said that it was an intense and beautiful time of dialogue. Pope Francis listened to the reality of the Order in different parts of the world and some particular situations affecting the Church.

In particular, the Holy Father urged us to work courageously among young people, according to their language and in favour of vocations, not to resign ourselves, and to look ahead to our future with confidence and faith,” the Minister reported.

He then shared his joy at having seen the Pope’s kindness up close:

We thanked the Lord for this meeting because we saw the Pope’s affection for us Franciscans in the world and because he repeated several times that St Francis is seductive in the best sense of the word; he attracts and motivates“.

Finally, the Supreme Pontiff invited the friars “to live in an evangelical way and to work knowing that they have this great root of inspiration and attraction“.

The audience ended with Pope Francis handing out mementoes to each participant and a short visit inside the Apostolic Palace.

 

On the Feast of the Epiphany, the Minister General blesses Rome from Ara Coeli

On 6 January, the Minister General, Br Massimo Fusarelli, accompanied by the Vicar General, Br Isauro Ulises C. Linfati and several Definitors, went to the Basilica of Santa Maria in Ara Coeli in Rome to celebrate Mass on the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord. He also imparted the traditional blessing to the city of Rome with the statue of the Child Jesus, so dear to the people of Rome.

The Minister was welcomed by the Provincial of the Province of St Bonaventure of the Friars Minor of Abruzzo-Lazio, Br Luciano De Giusti, and some friars of the Province, the civil authorities of the City of Rome and many pilgrims and tourists who had climbed the Capitoline hill.

In his homily, the Minister invited those present to welcome the Word, addressed to all: “all peoples, all men and women on earth, are called to enter into the promise, to become one people, to be at home in the Gospel” and, in the form of a prayer, looking at the Magi, he added: “Together we welcome the Magi in this basilica, located in the heart of Rome, which has witnessed for centuries its lively civil and religious life with its many ups and downs. We ask for their ability to live in the city and its life without remaining prisoners, avoiding the reasoning of a self-sufficient power isolated from people’s lives, building relationships and always looking for potential ways, open roads for the common good”.

At the end of the Mass, the Minister General imparted the Blessing, with the statue of the Child Jesus, to those present in the Basilica and then to the City of Rome from the top of the hill.

Br Simone Castaldi, Vicar of Ara Coeli, expressed his and the Province’s joy in welcoming Br Massimo on such an important day for the City of Rome: “We are proud to see a son of the former Roman Province, now the Province of St Bonaventure. It is a bit trivial to say, but we are proud. We are delighted to see Br Massimo….. a person who can speak a word of hope and of the future; a person who can give us a perspective.”

 

Homily Epiphany of the Lord
Aracoeli, 6 February 2022

“The Gentiles have become fellow-heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel”. (Eph 3:6)

On this solemn day that marks Christmas in a blaze of light, let us welcome this word that gives us a great breath of fresh air: all peoples, all men and women on earth, are called to enter into the promise, to become one people, to be at home in the Gospel.

This does not mean that we will extend our sphere of influence everywhere, but that God is the first missionary. He wants this for his creatures: to make them one family, united, capable of generating life and opening up to that future which is the crucified and risen Christ, living in the Spirit.

The centre of the mission remains the Lord and not us, the church. What gratuitousness of the proclamation and reception of the Gospel!

We have experienced the joy of the Good News, and we offer it to many. We bear witness to its salvific power and the possibility that it provides a new life capable of generating a new humanity. And we know that the ways to welcome this newness do not depend on us. They ask us not to possess the mission but serve it, always remaining its first recipients.

All this is offered to us in the form of a promise. It is not a lab-made programme, nor a project to be realised at all costs. Instead, it is the golden thread that binds history together and which we believers can only trace by learning to walk as pilgrims among the people, the men and women of our blessed and challenging time. On one condition: that, like the Magi, we learn to question, to seek, to ask, as if to represent those who walk in faith and yet long for the vision: “they sought Christ in order to adore him” (St Augustine);

their “joy was born of love for him” (St John Chrysostom).

St Francis understood this mission logic well when he told the friars to live among those who have a different faith and proclaim that God is creator and saviour when they see that it pleases him (RnB XVI, 1-2).

In the first place is the evangelical life to which we are called, the life shared with many. Through this, we seek out the seeds of good sown in the world and are continually accompanied by the Spirit in their gradual and constant growth.

The mission has to do with this care, this vigilance, such a love for what is human, which allows us to glimpse the presence and action of the God who creates and preserves his good creation and saves us in a word.

Together we welcome the Magi in this basilica, located in the heart of Rome, which has witnessed for centuries its lively civil and religious life with its many ups and downs. We ask for their ability to live in the city and its life without remaining prisoners, avoiding the reasoning of a self-sufficient power isolated from people’s lives, building relationships and always looking for potential ways, open roads for the common good.

This is what we are being asked to do by these difficult times, by the call to a renewed civil solidarity, which for us Christians knows the meaning and strength of charity.

If the temptation of power is to close in on itself and to eliminate those who seek different paths, God’s wisdom leaves ways open through small signs, manifests visions and dreams, makes stars and lights shine that we could never light up on our own.

May the Holy Child who for centuries has sustained and nourished the hope of the Romans here in Aracoeli and of the many peoples of the world who still look to him and experience his blessing tenderness, grant us this. Amen.

Br Massimo Fusarelli, ofm
Minister General

The Minister General visits the Province of Sicily

“We are sinners but with a desire to walk with Jesus. We are poor, inconsistent and sinful. But we want to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, never tiring of having great desires. Let us renew our yes to the Lord so that, with the help of his poor Mother, we may follow his footsteps, welcome his form, live in his friendship, live as ‘emptied’, as brothers and as minors”. These were the words of Br Massimo Fusarelli, Minister General, in his homily delivered in Baida, Palermo, on 3 January on the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus and the occasion of the three-day Fraternal Visit to the Sicilian Province of the Holy Name of Jesus.

The Minister General was welcomed by Brother Antonino Catalfamo, Provincial of Sicily, who shared the expectations of the Province: “in addition to the joy of having the new General in the Province, we are celebrating 80 years of the unification of the Province from 1941 to 2021, the closing of the anniversary year and, among other things, we are preparing for our intermediate Chapter in May”.

The Minister met with the friars in assembly, dealing with the topics of the next Provincial Chapter, which will take place in May. Br Massimo also met with the Poor Clares of the Federation of Sicily in Caltanissetta.

The Province of the Holy Name of Jesus of Sicily was created in 1941 by merging the existing five Sicilian Provinces.

 

Full text of the Minister General’s homily in Baida:

Province of the Holy Name of Jesus in Sicily
Baida (PA), homily of 3 January 2022

St. Paul tells us: “Have the same sentiments as Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the state of God, did not consider it a privilege to be like God, but emptied himself by assuming the condition of a servant” (Phil 2, 5-7). For us Friars Minor, this means entering into Christ’s way of seeing, judging, loving, walking and choosing. St Francis would say: to remain in his footsteps, welcome his form, and allow ourselves to be transformed by it.

What is the form of Christ? That of a God who, out of love, emptied himself. Each of us, Friars Minor, following in the footsteps of Jesus, is called to live without anything of our own, to “empty ourselves”. The centre is not us, but the form of Christ, incarnate, crucified and resurrected for us, who leads us to our true “self” to return our life, given to Him, who is the Supreme Good.

To make this journey, we are called to learn not to live centred on ourselves because the centre of each of us and of the fraternity is Christ, the Gospel of the Father, and his pilgrim Church with and among many, without walls or barriers, open to recognising the good that the Spirit is already sowing in the world.

And God is the Deus humilis, semper minor, the God who always surprises us. This means that we cannot reduce our faith experience to what we already know. The Lord goes beyond us. He takes us further; he asks us to leave an opening to his mystery in our world and not to shut down our search, our longing for him, the restlessness of our hearts, minds and feelings.

In short, it means becoming men of faith, pilgrims and strangers, passionate lovers, brothers and minors, fellow travellers of the little ones and the poor.

Does not celebrating the Name of Jesus mean for us today confessing the primacy of the form of Christ for our lives, letting the Spirit of the Lord shape our humanity, setting us on a journey of intelligence, feelings, will and feet?

Does not celebrating the Name of Jesus mean for us today learning once again to “dream” like Joseph, the just man? Dreaming of the “God who saves” and does not limit himself to healing us, making us well, healing wounds?

Dreaming in this way to serve, in the footsteps of Joseph, the guardian of Jesus’ way of life, the servant who gives everything and lives without anything of his own.

Dreaming in this way to set out towards new lands and learning to seek the face of God in new horizons, unfrequented, that can make us seekers, restless, eager for a new step.

Dreaming in this way to find new words to announce that Jesus is the Lord, the Saviour, the Life.

Dreaming like this to nurture great desires: Pope Francis said, “An authentic faith always involves a profound desire to change the world. Here is the question we must ask ourselves: do we also have great vision and impetus? Are we also daring? Do our dreams fly high? Does zeal consume us (cf. Ps 68:10)? Or are we mediocre and satisfied with our “made in the lab” apostolic programmes? Let us always remember: the Church’s strength does not reside in herself and in her organisational abilities, but it rests hidden in the deep waters of God. And these waters stir up our aspirations and desires expanding the heart”. (Homily 3 January 2014)

We are sinners but with a desire to walk with Jesus. We are poor, inconsistent and sinful. But we want to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, never tiring of having great desires. Let us renew our yes to the Lord so that, with the help of his poor Mother, we may follow his footsteps, welcome his form, live in his friendship, live as ‘emptied’, as brothers and as minors.

And thus be freed from the fear of anticipating death, abandonment, the yes of the gift of ourselves, to find ourselves and enter into Life.

And thus find fruitful the womb of our existence and that of many. Happy New Year, brothers, in the sign of this Name, of this dream, of this love, of the steps of the journey that has attracted our life forever. Amen.

Br Massimo Fusarelli

Minister General concludes visit to Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina

The Minister General’s Fraternal Visit to the four provinces of Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina ended with a Prayer Vigil and Mass in Medjugorje between 31 December 2021 and 1 January 2022

During the Mass, the Minister encouraged those present to welcome the gift of peace that is Christ from above: “Let us welcome this gift of peace insofar as we recognise ourselves as children of God in Christ, that beloved Son, God incarnate”. He added the reason that brought him to Medjugorje as a pilgrim: to start the New Year, to present the whole Franciscan Family to the Mother of God and to invoke a more living faith in Jesus on the part of all.

At the end of his homily, Br Massimo invited those present to pray that peace may promote the integral development of people, that the faith and work of the Friars Minor may grow in the Franciscan Family, and that the shrine may become a lasting place of listening and mercy for the many who come there.

Accompanying the Minister General in Medjugorje were Br Konrad Grzegorz Cholewa, Definitor General, Br Miljenko Steko, Minister Provincial of Mostar and Br Vjekoslav Miličević, Personal Secretary. After the celebration, the Minister returned to Italy.

Full text of the Minister General’s homily in Medjugorje:

 

Solemnity of the Most Holy Mother of God

Medjugorje, January 1, 2022

May the Lord turn his face to you and grant you peace

On this first day of the year, annually dedicated to the Mother of God and to prayer for peace, the words of the blessing of Aaron give us light for the new time that is opening before us: it is the face of God that shows us the way and gives us peace.

Let us not begin the year trusting in ourselves and in our own ability to sow and obtain peace. We know that peace is a gift from above, a blessing addressed to us, a promise of good: Christ is our peace!

We accept this gift of peace insofar as we recognize ourselves as children of God in Christ, that beloved Son, God incarnate: “He became man, and did not enter into a man”.

We are children of God through the gift of the Spirit of the beloved Son himself. It is the Spirit who enveloped the Virgin Mary, giving her through the purest of grace to bear “in the flesh one of the Holy Trinity, Christ our God”, as the Seventh Ecumenical Council proclaims.

The Holy Spirit so filled the Virgin Mary that her womb was able to receive Christ and her heart, mind and will were ready to listen:

Mary, for her part, kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.

Mary is the faith-filled disciple and the Mother of God: that is why our earth was able to germinate from her the One who is true peace.

In this solemnity which completes the octave of Christmas, we are allowed, as we prayed at the beginning of the Mass, to taste the first fruits of his merciful love. For peace is truly a gift of God and not the result of our own poor efforts.

How beautiful it is, then, that the first day of the year should make us look to Mary the Mother of God, she who gave life to God in her flesh as a woman and remained bound to that child in an unique and unrepeatable way: that is why we call her Theotokos, Mother of God, because she is bound to the person of the Word of God made flesh, one of us!

With a single word (Θεοτόκος-Mother of God), we confess the heart of faith in the Incarnation of the Word of God. We say that man becomes a child of God and a worker of that peace which is He who was born, died and rose again for us!

I have come as a pilgrim to this shrine to begin the New Year and to bring here with joy and faith especially all the brothers of the Order of Friars Minor, the Poor Clares and the many members of the Franciscan Family.

I have made myself a pilgrim here in order to invoke on behalf of all of us a more living faith in Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, the centre of the cosmos and of history.

I am a pilgrim here as the successor of St Francis, who “surrounded the Mother of Jesus with an unspeakable love, because she had made our brother, the Lord of majesty. To her honour Francis sang special praises, raised prayers, offered so many and such affections that human language could not express them.” Thomas of Celano tells us this.

In this place, for many years now, many people have seen the flame of faith rekindle as they listen to the word of God and celebrate the sacraments, especially those of Reconciliation and the Eucharist.

And it is here that freedom opens up to discover the gift of prayer, especially through silence and adoration. And this is why so many have been able to taste the gift of reconciliation and peace in this place.

Do we not find all this in the Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our sister in faith? St Paul VI wrote: “Mary is the demonstration of what God does when he finds a willing person: she is what we must become”.

St Francis called Mary virgin made Church: we can become what we see realized in her. This is the deepest path of conversion, a gift of the Spirit that makes our freedom new and makes it grow.

We can truly become with Mary the house, the palace, the tabernacle of God in the midst of the world. As on her, so on us the Spirit of the Lord will rest and make his dwelling and abode with us. And we are children of our heavenly Father, and spouses, brothers and mothers of our Lord Jesus Christ. In this way we can generate him through the holy work that must shine as an example for others.

This is the new life, the fruit of the peace that comes from welcoming Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary: this is the gift that many have experienced in this place and that many others will be able to receive. Let us pray that this work of God may continue and grow according to his will.

Let us pray that peace may promote the integral development of people, above all, that “Dialogue between generations, education and work: tools for building lasting peace” may grow.

Let us pray that faith will grow in our Franciscan family and that the presence of the Virgin Mary will once again be discovered at the heart of our charism.

Let us pray that the presence and work of the Friars Minor in this place may become a stable door of listening and mercy for the many who come here.

May the Mother of God, who made the Lord of Majesty our brother, continue to bless us and accompany us in peace. Amen

Interfaith Christmas in Istanbul

On 25 December 2021, the Franciscan Community of Istanbul, Turkey, opened its doors for an interfaith lunch on the occasion of Christmas Day. The luncheon was attended by Brother John Wong, General Definitor and President of the Order’s Commission for Dialogue. Present were Brother Éleuthère Makuta, Guardian of Istanbul, the friars of the community, the Franciscan Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, Muslims and Christian refugees in Turkey and some prisoners.

“The Franciscan presence in Istanbul focuses on inter-religious dialogue, based on the Franciscan values of brotherhood and hospitality,” said Brother John, greeting the lunch guests.

Brother Georges Misange Mutombo, a community member, expressed his gratitude, confirming that the people respect the friars. As a sign of this appreciation, during the Islamic fasting period of Ramadan, Muslims invite the friars for the evening iftar meal.

Every year on 24 December, the mayor of Beyoğlu goes to the friars to wish them a Merry Christmas.

There are thirteen Friars Minor in Turkey, nine dependent on the Minister General and the others from the Provinces of Argentina and South Korea. The friars are constantly engaged in ecumenism and the promotion of interreligious dialogue.

CHRISTMAS DAY HOMILY – Greccio, 25 December 2021

A child has been born for us, a son has been given to us.

Today we hear this proclamation in the very place where St Francis wanted to see with his own eyes the poverty in which the Lord Jesus wished to be born. This is the gift that lies at the heart of this day, which Francis wanted to be filled with joy and celebration like no other.

A fragile Child, who will have dominion on his shoulders, wonderful counsellor will be his name (cf. Is 9:5). A power of love and therefore vulnerable, unarmed: this child will be aware of the joys and hopes, the expectations and sufferings of humankind. One of us to the core, with a capacity for love and pain that we alone could never imagine, let alone experience.

Here we are at the heart of the Son’s divine life, who today wanted to take on our human nature as we prayed at the beginning of today’s celebration. With this gift, we receive the proclamation of salvation; God is Lord (cf. Is 52:7). From this flows the song of joy, the consolation of the Lord for his people. There is no limit to this proclamation and this joy, which spreads to the ends of the earth (cf. Is 52:8-10).

We can repeat today with Ps 97: All the earth has seen the salvation of our God. Today’s proclamation is addressed to all peoples and gives us the universal sense of the Good News, which includes human beings and creation, our common home. The whole earth is invited to shout, rejoice, and sing hymns! St Francis in the Canticle of Brother Sun gave voice to creatures, recognising in them the good that comes from God and that in the Lord’s Incarnation is fully recognised and welcomed.

This song and cry of the earth has its centre in Jesus Christ, the beloved Son. Christmas reminds us that God has bound himself forever to our humanity and to creation, remains faithful to it and leads it towards its fullness. We are on a journey. We see the signs of fatigue, sin and death, which challenge us and force us to purify our faith. Today we confirm our faith and ask to grow in it.

Truly, today a holy day has dawned for us, and a glorious light has descended upon the earth. St Francis was struck and touched by this light, to the point of wanting to see it with his own eyes. Not in the romanticism of an outward and disembodied representation. He wanted to experience Christmas here in Greccio among the rocks, with a country folk and simple people, with some animals and a portable altar to celebrate the Eucharist. All very modest and poor. All in the chiaroscuro of light and night, power and poverty, greatness and smallness. Truly life was the light of all people; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it (Jn 1:4-5).

Francis believed in this primacy of the Father’s love in Jesus Christ and in the Spirit, poured out on all creation, reaching out and transforming every person and every creature in mysterious ways.

This Love was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not recognise him. He came among his own, and his own did not receive him (Jn 1:10-11). Closure and rejection are always possible, and this is part of the drama of our condition and of Christmas.

At the same time, to all who received him, he gave power to become children of God (Jn 1:12): it is possible to welcome him and in the fragile flesh of our humanity to recognise his permanent way of being the God with us and not just above us.

We wish each other a Holy Christmas from Greccio in this year that is coming to an end and that has seen us still affected by both positive and wearying events.

Christmas arises within a story made up of light and shadow.

It is Christmas not in spite of our labours and deaths, but in them.

For this, we can still hope.

Let us live Christmas in the joy that Francis has shown us in the name of so many, blessed and yet tested by life in so many ways, and for all, we ask for the fullness of blessing and life. Amen.

COMMUNIQUE FROM THE GENERAL DEFINITORY – DECEMBER 2021 TEMPO FORTE

The sessions of the December Tempo Forte were held from 13 to 17 December 2021, and one session was dedicated to sharing the Minister’s and the General Definitors’ experiences in the last few weeks after the previous Tempo Forte ended in November.

In addition to matters of ordinary administration, such as the ratification of the acts of election which took place in the Chapter of some Provinces and Custodies, in the Capitular Congress of these Provinces and Custodies, and non-capitular meetings, the General Definitory met with the Guardian of the House of Santa Maria Mediatrice – General Curia, Br Maciej OLSZEWSKI.

In addition to a thorough review of the recent meeting of the General Visitators, the General Definitory finalised and revised the programme for the Meeting with the new Ministers Provincial and Custodes to be held from 19 to 28 January 2022, at the General Curia, and also rescheduled some dates for the Tempo Forte sessions of the sexennium.

In addition, with the Secretary General for Missions and Evangelisation, they discussed the six-year working plan of the office for the animation of the life and mission of the Order.

Updates and information were also shared on the Missionary Evangelisation Projects dependent on the General Minister in Turkey, Russia, Sudan and South Sudan, Republic of Congo (Brazzaville), Papua New Guinea, Thailand and Myanmar.

There were several discussions about the prospects and planning of the synodal journey that will involve all the friars of the Order and the laity who collaborate with us over the next few years, leading to the celebration of the Chapter of Mats in 2025. A letter has been drafted which the Minister General, in the name of the whole Definitory, will send to the Conference Presidents as soon as possible to initiate this detailed itinerary.

There was also a discussion on the safeguarding of minors and vulnerable adults, and an International Commission was appointed to flank and support the work of the General Office for the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Adults, whose director is Br Albert SCHMUCKI.

The Definitory met and talked with the General Bursar, Br John PUODZIUNAS, about the 2022 budget of the General Curia, including all the Entities dependent on the Minister General, and about some projects and administrative work already underway or still to be started.

The following were elected:

  • Br Wim POT, of the Province of the Holy Martyrs of Gorcum, in the Netherlands, Visitator General to the Province of Ireland;
  • Br Jimmy ZAMMIT, General Definitor, Assistant to the Visitator General for the Custody of the Holy Land, for the House in Washington, USA.

Candidates for the service of Minister for the following Provinces were approved:

  • Sacred Heart of Jesus, Italy (Naples);
  • Saint Hedwig, Poland (Wroclaw).

The following cases of separation from the Order were dealt with:

  • Indult of exclaustration for one year: 2
  • Dispensation from solemn vows: 3
  • Transfer to another Institute: 1
  • Secularisation ad experimentum: 1
  • Secularisation pure et simpliciter: 2
  • Dispensation from the clerical state and departure from the Order: 1
  • Dismissal from the Order ipso facto due to unlawful absence: 1
  • Dismissal from the Order: 1

Information concerning two cases of allegations of graviora delicta has been forwarded to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The Minister General also shared some updates on the process of creating a single Franciscan University in Rome.

The next Tempo Forte is scheduled from 10 to 28 January 2022, during which the Meeting with the new Ministers Provincial and Custodes will take place (19-28).

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

Roma, 22 December 2021

Br Giovanni Rinaldi, OFM
Secretary General

In memory of Br Martino Conti (1932-2021)

Br Martino Conti, OFM, a member of the Province of St Anthony of the Friars Minor (Northern Italy), has returned to the Father’s House. He died on 16 December last in Trento, at the age of 89.

Brother Martino was born in San Terenzo Monti, in the province of Massa Carrara, 14 July 1932. He took his first vows on 14 October 1950, solemn vows on 8 December 1954 and was ordained a priest on 29 June 1957.

He was Professor of Theology, Dean of the Faculty of Theology and Rector of the Pontifical Antonianum University in Rome, as well as Consultant of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and CICLSAL.

He was also the author of essays, books and articles in the Franciscan field.

We entrust him to the Lord, praying for his soul to be received into the eternal peace of good and faithful servants.

SOLIDARITY WITH THE SOUTHERN PHILIPPINES

Since 16 December 2021, the brothers of the Custody of St Anthony of Padua in the Southern Philippines, together with the people they serve, have experienced the destructive onslaught of Super Typhoon Rai (also called “Odette” in the Philippines).

The Philippines, which is one of the world’s most vulnerable countries to climate change, is slammed by an average of 20 storms and typhoons each year, destroying crops, homes, and infrastructure in already destitute areas. Super Typhoon Odette is the country’s 15th storm of the year and the most powerful storm of 2021. According to the Philippines’ National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, at than a hundred people are reported to have died as a result of the typhoon, with more than 1.8 million more affected.

Emergency shelter, food, water, sanitation and hygiene, evacuation support, family reunion, health care, and protection of at-risk populations are among the immediate needs following a typhoon of this magnitude. Thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes and are being housed in evacuation centers. Evacuees have been welcomed into churches and schools.

Minister Custos, Br. Renee Dean, OFM, described their experiences:

On that fateful hour of December 16, prior to making a landfall, the people of Visayas and Mindanao (the same areas comprising the Custody) were warned of the imminent strength of Tropical Storm “Odette” [International Name: Rai]. But it seemed that most of us have underestimated its wrath which escalated to a ‘Super Typhoon’ as it made its initial landfall. At around 7:00 o’clock in the evening, “Odette” pummeled the island of Cebu for the next three hours. The said island is where our Custodial House, a parish, the postulancy house, and our house for the elderly and the sick are located. Anxious of a storm surge, our sick and elder friars were evacuated in the dead of the night while braving the storm to our parish-friary located in the city uptown area.”

Some of the friars managed to help in the evacuation of our neighbors by lending our friary vehicles. Our parish immediately opened its doors to shelter our evacuating parishioners. The aftermath was heartbreaking. We saw the light of dawn with most of our houses and the homes of our neighbors destroyed. The ordeal has just begun. At the moment, Cebu and the nearby provinces are in chaos with people endlessly queuing for food, water, and fuel which is being aggravated by the unsystematic and slow response from the government. With phone signals and powerlines down, communication is very difficult. We are yet to assess the damage incurred by our friaries and schools in Negros Oriental, another badly hit province by the infamous storm.”

The brothers are now engaged in the work of humanitarian disaster relief, major repairs, and rebuilding.

In a message of solidarity to Brother Renee and the friars of the Custody in the Southern Philippines, Minister General Brother Massimo Fusarelli wrote:

“I want to affirm the Filipino people’s tenacity in the face of tragedy and pray that they may once again be gifted with the fortitude and strength to rise, as well as the faith and hope to look to God. We pray for the friars and the Catholic church’s unceasing efforts to respond to these extensive and repeated tragedies in the Philippines.”

Minister General calls for solidarity with Haiti

Friar Massimo Fusarelli, our Minister General reminds us not to forget those who need our prayers and charity, especially at this time of Christmas. He asks us to be even closer in solidarity with those in need, such as the dear people of Haiti who have been hit hard by yet another disaster.

“My brothers, Br Wilfrid and Br Noe Francisco described the situation to me. Unfortunately, it is identical to that experienced after the more famous earthquake in 2010,” reads the Minister’s letter, adding, “That is why, on the occasion of Christmas, I would like to ask you to look at one of the poorest countries in the world, ravaged over the years by continual natural disasters and now without even a political leadership working to help its exhausted and destitute population”. The Minister concluded his letter by asking for aid in supporting the commitment of the friars who have been working for years in this Central American country, in order to be able to bring concrete help with food, hygienic kits and emergency tents.

The Minister’s letter adds his voice to the appeal made by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square in Rome on both October 31 and December 15 of this 2021.

A few months ago, on August 14, a violent 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck the south of the country, killing more than 2,500 people and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless and food insecure; and on December 13, a devastating explosion in Cap-Häitien killed dozens of people and injured hundreds of others.

Full text of the Minister General’s letter

How to get help to Haiti

(please specify reason for Haiti)

The Minister General celebrates the centenary of affiliation to the Order of Friars Minor by the Franciscan Minim Sisters

On Saturday 11 December 2021, in Caiano in the Province of Prato (Italy), the Minister General, Br Massimo Fusarelli, presided at a Mass to mark the centenary of the affiliation of the Franciscan Minim Sisters of the Sacred Heart to the Order of Friars Minor.

At the beginning of the celebration, Br Livio Crisci, Provincial of the Tuscan Province of St Francis Stigmatized, read out the 1921 Decree, drafted by Br Serafino Cimino, then Minister General, which granted the Minims affiliation to the Order.

During the homily, Br Massimo explained the significance of this affiliation which “represents the guarantee that the charism of the Minim Sisters is solidly rooted in the living Franciscan charismatic tradition”. He added that “this affiliation has enabled the Institute, for 100 years, to enjoy the spiritual fruits that the Franciscan Order receives in the communion of saints: prayer for the living and the dead, intercession for the growth and development of goodness, the joy of holiness that we ask for each other”. At the end of the homily, he expressed his wish that the sisters would grow simply in their love for the Lord Jesus.

The Institute of the Franciscan Minim Sisters of the Sacred Heart, which is present in Italy, Egypt, Israel, Brazil and Sri Lanka, was founded on 15 December 1902 by Blessed Maria Margherita Caiani, and the celebration also commemorated the 100th anniversary of her death.

COMMUNIQUE FROM THE GENERAL DEFINITORY – NOVEMBER 2021 TEMPO FORTE

During the November Tempo Forte, which took place from 3 to 19 November 2021, the General Definitory also met with many Brothers who are serving as Visitators General (15-19 November).

During the first session of the meeting, Br Francisco GOMEZ VARGAS, General Secretary for Evangelisation, offered a reflection entitled: “Franciscan Evangelisation and the Synod”. This was inspired by the document prepared by the same Secretariat, “The Kingdom of God is at hand: guidelines for Franciscan missionary evangelisation”. Br Francisco recalled that “the strongest and most decisive element of the Franciscan concept of evangelisation is its intrinsic union with evangelicalism. Being evangelical is a sine qua non condition for effectively spreading the Gospel”.

During the Tempo Forte, the General Definitory appointed Br Vjekoslav MILIČEVIĆ as personal secretary to the Minister General and the members of the following Commissions and Councils:

  • Juridical Commission of the Order, Br Claudio DURIGHETTO (President), Br Chryzostom FRYC and Br Nikolaus SCHÖCH;
  • Commission for hierarchical appeals to the Minister General, Br Claudio DURIGHETTO (President), Br Chryzostom FRYC and Br Michele SARDELLA;
  • Commission for Prayer and Devotion, Br Fabio César GOMES (Coordinator/President), Br Hieronimus DEI RUPA, Br Gerard EVANS, Br Emilio ROCHA GRANDE, Br Antony JUKES and Br Paolo ZAMPOLLINI;
  • Commission for the Service of Dialogue, Br John WONG (Coordinator/President), Br Eleuthere BAHARANY MAKUTA, Br Alberto MARFIL, Br Stéphane DELAVELLE, Br Lorenzo RANIERO and Br Alberto Joan PARI;
  • Commissio Internationalis de Re Œconomica (CIRE), Mr Wilmer SMEENK (President), Mr Les QUICK, Br John PUODZIUNAS, General Bursar, Br Jimmy ZAMMIT, General Definitor and Br Trevor D’SOUZA, OFM, (Province of St Thomas Ap., India);
  • Management Board of the OFM Fraternitas Foundation Br Giovanni RINALDI, President, Br Franco MIRRI and Mr Marco LOMBARDI (JonesDay, Milan).

Assisting the Guardian of the Casa Santa Maria Mediatrice, Br Maciej OLSZEWSKI, Br Salvador BURGOS LEÓN was elected as Vicar and Br Claudio DURIGHETTO, Br Evodio JOÃO and Br Alvin PARAS as Discreets. The General Definitory is still looking for new personnel for some services to be carried out in the Houses dependent on the Minister General and motivated volunteers for service in the Projects of Life and Mission dependent on the Minister General.

In collaboration with the General Secretaries for Formation-Studies and Mission-Evangelisation and the JPIC Animator, the document Let us begin, Brothers! Guidelines for the sexennium 2021-2027 was drafted, and the specific Statutes of the General Office and the International Commission for the Safeguarding of Minors and Vulnerable Adults were approved.

In dialogue with the General Bursar, Br John PUODZIUNAS, the Definitory analysed the budget for the year 2022 and dealt with the various economic and financial issues that need to be reviewed and decided.

The General Definitory welcomed and listened to:

  • Br Markus HEINZE, Executive Director of Franciscans International, who presented the nature, activities and objectives of the non-governmental organisation for human rights of the Franciscan Family (https://franciscansinternational.org/about/about-us/);
  • Br Siniša BALAJIĆ presented the work of the Development Office of the General Curia, whose working method has been fully revised and reorganised since July 2020;
  • Br Franco MIRRI, Director of the OFM Fraternitas Foundation, briefly outlined the nature, purpose and functioning of the newly established Foundation while presenting the report of the fundraising activities carried out so far and the six-year budget forecast drawn up in 2019. In particular, Br Franco focused on the final balance to September 2021 and the forecast for 2022.

On 6 November, the General Definitory studied the UNIFRA Project, that is, a single Franciscan University in Rome. Participants included Br Agustín HERNANDEZ, Rector of the PUA, Br Stephane OPPES, Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy, Br Giuseppe BUFFON, Dean of the Faculty of Theology, Br Carlo Esteban SALTO SOLA, AVEPRO Project coordinator for the PUA and Br Darko TEPERT, Secretary General for Formation and Studies.

The Candidates for the service of Minister for the following Provinces were approved:

  • Immaculate Conception BVM, in Brazil;
  • Holy Cross, in Brazil;
  • Saint Casimir, in Lithuania.

Br Fuad Miguel HILAL, of the Province of San Francisco Solano, Argentina, was elected Visitator General to the Missionary Province of St Anthony in Bolivia.

The Reports on the conclusion of the General Canonical Visitation to the Provinces of Arantzazu, Spain, and St Leopold, Austria and Italy, were presented and studied.

The following cases of departure from the Order were dealt with:

  • Indult of exclaustration for one year: 1
  • Indult of exclaustration for three years: 3
  • Dispensation from temporary vows: 1
  • Dispensation from solemn vows: 6

Information concerning a case of allegations of graviora delicta was forwarded to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

From 15 to 19 November, the General Definitory met with the following friars who are serving as Visitators General: Jerry BLEEM, Fabio CATENACCI, Paolo FANTACCINI, Marcello GHIRLANDO, Jozafat Roman GOHLY, José GONZALÉZ Gwidon, Grzegorz HENSEL, Thomas HRASTNIK, Francesco IELPO, Jeronym Frantisek JURKA, Stanislaw Josef MAZGAJ, Noël MUSCAT, Miro RELOTA, Ivan SESAR, Angelo Maria SOLINAS, William SPENCER, Marcel TSHIKEZ KANGWEJ, Boze VULETA, Alojzy WAROT. The meeting was rich and fruitful and helped us overcome the fears we all have in this pandemic.

From 13 to 17 December 2021 and from 10 to 28 January 2022, the General Definitory will meet for the Tempo Forte sessions scheduled in the six-year calendar.

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

 

Rome, 9 December 2021

Br Giovanni Rinaldi, OFM
Secretary General

 

 

 

Christmas Greetings from the Minister General

“My wish for this Holy Christatmas 2021, is all here: that we may open our eyes in the Holy Spirit and believe in the poverty of Jesus and of His Most Holy Mother.”
This is what we read in the Letter of the Minister General, Friar Massimo Fusarelli, addressed to the Franciscan Family and to the friends of the Order, on the occasion of the approaching Holy Christmas of the Lord.

Full text of the letter from the Minister General

Oldalak