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Franciscans International: New Migration Dynamics in Northern Central America, Mexico and the United States


On Friday, 12 February 2021, Franciscans International will launch a new diagnosis on migration in Northern Central America, Mexico and the United States. This work is the result of a close cooperation between Franciscans International and the Red Franciscana Para Migrantes, combing a review of relevant literature with firsthand testimonies from Franciscan shelters in the region.

The diagnosis lays out new trends on migration in Northern Central America, starting with the exodus caravans of 2018 and 2019. It also looks at the dangers faced by migrants and those that work to support them, identifying challenges and opportunities for the future. The report also includes a section looking at the most recent impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Join the webinar hosted by Franciscans International on 12 February at 16:00 (CET) // 10:00 (EST) for a discussion with Franciscans and other experts on migration. Translations will be provided in English and Spanish. The publication and a recording of the event will also be made available on their website afterwards.

Registration at https://bit.ly/FI12feb21


Bishop Aurelio Pesoa OFM appointed Apostolic Vicar of El Beni (Bolivia)


His Holiness Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Aurelio Pesoa OFM, as the new Bishop for the Apostolic Vicariate of El Beni. Bishop Pesoa is the current Auxiliary Bishop of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of La Paz and Secretary General of the Bolivian Bishops’ Conference.

Br. Michael A. Perry, Minister General, congratulates Bishop Aurelio on behalf of the whole Order of Friars Minor and wishes him every success in his new service to the Bolivian Church.

Vatican News: In the footsteps of St Francis to build the way of brotherhood


On 3 February 2021, Vatican News published an article tracing the steps that Pope Francis has taken in the footsteps of Saint Francis of Assisi, who inspired Laudato si’, the Abu Dhabi Declaration and the encyclical Fratelli tutti:

Many of Pope Francis’ steps and gestures are part of a path that begins in Assisi and is clearly discernible from the first days of his pontificate. At the beginning of his Petrine ministry, on 19 March 2013, the Pontiff already indicated the direction that accompanies his magisterium. “The vocation of being a “protector”, however, is not just something involving us Christians alone; it also has a prior dimension which is simply human, involving everyone. It means protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world, as the Book of Genesis tells us and as Saint Francis of Assisi showed us. It means respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live.” On 4 October 2013, on the feast day of Italy’s patron saint, the Pope was in Assisi. “From this City of Peace,” the Holy Father said in his homily in Saint Francis Square, “I repeat with all the strength and the meekness of love: Let us respect creation, let us not be instruments of destruction!” “Let us listen to the cry of all those who are weeping, who are suffering and who are dying because of violence, terrorism or war, in the Holy Land, so dear to Saint Francis, in Syria, throughout the Middle East and everywhere in the world.”


Read the full text by Amedeo Lomonaco (in Italian) at: vaticannews.va



Fratelli Tutti: Friars of Indonesia launch “Year of Fraternity”

The Friars Minor of the Province of St. Michael the Archangel in Indonesia, including the Foundation of East Timor, accepting the invitation in the Holy Father Pope Francis’ latest encyclical Fratelli Tutti, began 2021 as a particular year of fraternity for the whole Province.

Br Mikael Peruhe, the Minister Provincial of 135 solemnly professed friars, in his opening words underlined the importance of the encyclical for the Indonesian Church, encouraging the friars to continue to live it in practice in their communities and in their various forms of pastoral service, but especially as a living witness for those who are sick and abandoned because of Covid-19.

Br Agustinus Nggame, Director of the Office of Spirituality, prepared a booklet, which illustrates pastoral steps to help the friars in every reality and situation.

The year’s song was presented, composed by Br Stanislaus Sukartanto, “Kita Satu Keluarga” (We are One Family), and is available on the Province’s YouTube page.  As a symbol of the year of fraternity, the logo, created by Br Rio Edison, was also presented.

About thirteen communities from the various islands and regions of Indonesia and East Timor made a brief video presentation showing our people’s customs, with shouts, songs, dances, and a little prayer. The missionary friars who are in Thailand, Istanbul and the Holy Land also participated in the link-up.

In the last session, the groups of student friars and novices shared short videos. Every year, the young students (currently 85 friars) usually spend a period of fraternity of about three days in the novitiate house, but this was not possible this year.

We Indonesian friars, carry this meeting in our hearts as a message of hope to be shared with our brothers and sisters.


Br. Andreas Atawolo OFM



Appointment of Br Leonardo Sileo OFM as Rector of the Pontifical Urbaniana University

On 1 January 2021, the Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, confirmed Br Leonardo Sileo OFM’s appointment as Rector of the Pontifical Urbaniana University for the next three years ratifying the election by the Academic Senate and the ordinary and extraordinary professors.

The Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Urbaniana University, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle announced Br. Leonardo’s appointment. He thanked him for the work he had done so far in his first term of office when he had to deal with the difficult situation caused by the pandemic and the reorganisation of teaching following anti-infection measures.

Br. Leonardo began his teaching career in 1986 in the Faculty of Theology of the Pontifical Antonianum Athenaeum. Then, at the Urbaniana from 1998, he became a full professor in 2013 in the Faculty of Philosophy, holding the History of Medieval Philosophy chair. Br. Leonardo served as Director of the Urbaniana University Press. He assumed responsibility for the Quality Office, initiating self-assessment and implementing quality checks according to the Bologna Process’s criteria.

Br. Leonardo belongs to the Province of the Immaculate Conception of the Friars Minor of Salerno (Italy).



Feast of the Franciscan Protomartyrs: Closing of the Extraordinary Jubilee

The eighth centenary (1220-2020) of the Franciscan Protomartyrs’ death, 16 January 2020 – 17 January 2021, focused primarily on St Anthony’s church in Terni (Italy). The Apostolic Penitentiary granted a plenary indulgence for the year. However, one could say that the whole “Way of the Franciscan Protomartyrs” is an open air shrine of the five saintly Friars Minor who, following St Francis’s example, followed in the footsteps of Jesus by living according to the Gospel up to the shedding of their blood.

The centenary programme was well-structured and packed with initiatives, but in January 2020 no one knew that the coronavirus pandemic would soon arrive in Italy, with the consequent lockdown. Thanks to the Narni Lions Club, meetings were planned in Coimbra. The diocesan delegation’s trip to Portugal of eight people – the Bishop Giuseppe Piemontese, the guardian of the Sant’Antonio friary in Terni, Br Danilo Tremolada, some religious and lay people – was cancelled two days before departure. A plaque prepared for the occasion to give to the Bishop of Coimbra is still waiting for more favourable times to be delivered. In this case, as in others, we soon learnt that alongside the martyrdom of blood reserved for some, there is the no less bloody but equally fruitful martyrdom of patience!

While respecting the antivirus norms, liturgies, meetings, pilgrimages, and other events helped us to discover that the martyrs are truly those who have taken on Jesus’s form of life.  A Eucharistic love that passes from gratitude for gifts received to generoisty to the point of giving one’s life for one’s brothers and sisters. Moreover, they testify that love and sacrifice are called to work hand in hand if the former is not to become pure fleeting emotionalism and the latter frustrating activism. When love expresses itself in sacrifice, and sacrifice is moved by love, we are faced – in the words of Dostoevsky – with the beauty that saves the world; thus, we can say that love alone is credible.

Like Brother Francis of Assisi, the Franciscan Protomartyrs went to the land of non-Christians to proclaim the Gospel. Therefore, it is not surprising that the Rule of the Friars Minor is the first to dedicate a section to those who go among the unbelievers.


As the eighth centenary of the Franciscan Protomartyrs’ death draws to a close, the centenary of St Anthony’s arrival in Italy is just beginning.


(The full text is available in Italian at ofm.org)


Br Pietro Messa ofm
Pontifical Antonianum University


“From a minefield to a place of prayer”: the celebration of the Baptism of Jesus returns to the Franciscan church on the River Jordan

On Sunday 10th January 2021, after 54 years and 3 days, the Franciscan friars of the Custody of the Holy Land once again celebrated Mass in the church of St John the Baptist at Qasr Al-Yahud, on the banks of the River Jordan, the Christian site where the Baptism of Jesus is commemorated.

The liturgy started with the procession of the Franciscans who, from the Greek Orthodox monastery of St John, arrived at the Franciscans’ land not far from the banks of the river, where the Holy Mass was celebrated. Before the celebration of the Eucharist, the parish priest of the parish of Jericho, Fr. Mario Hadchity, welcomed the friars and the Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton. “We are delighted, on this special day, that the Custody of the Holy Land, with the help of God, after more than half a century, has been able to return to the Latin church of St John the Baptist,” said Fr. Mario. “May it be a place where all those who enter encounter the grace of God.” After kissing the cross and the incensation, the Custos made his solemn entrance,  personally opening the gates of the site, which had been closed for more than fifty years.

The celebration, presided by the Custos of the Holy Land, was attended by the apostolic nuncio in Israel and Cyprus and apostolic delegate in Jerusalem and Palestine, Mons. Leopoldo Girelli, the Italian Consul-General Giuseppe Fedele, the Spanish Vice-Consul Paloma Serra and  representatives of the Israeli military authorities. In the respect of the regulations due to  Coronavirus, about fifty people were present, divided into groups of ten and distanced from one another.

Read the rest of the story by Giovanni Malaspina at: custodia.org

Photos: Nadim Asfour/CTS


Volunteering in service of migrants and refugees


The Franciscan Network on Migration (RFM) extends a warm invitation to all those who are interested in serving at migrant and refugee shelters associated with our network in Guatemala, Mexico and the United States.

On Christmas Eve, we launched our “Volunteer Campaign 2021.” The application process is open to all people of legal age who speak Spanish at an intermediate level. Applicants should be open to giving their time and have the ability to stay at one of our seven houses. All of our shelters are in need of support and collaboration in order to continue the service they provide daily to migrants and refugees.

Volunteering is an unforgettable and life-changing experience. We are hoping that lay people, men and women religious, priests, students, and workers from different countries will take up this challenge that the present times have laid before us.

The houses and teams of Franciscan Network on Migration need help and volunteers. We ask that you will help us spread the word about this opportunity.

For more information about the current placements and requirements of volunteer service, we invite you to visit our website: https://redfranciscana.org/voluntariado/. Here you will find our application form and a pdf that you can download and share. Once you fill out the form, a representative from your preferred house will contact you.

NOTE: All materials related to volunteering are in Spanish as one of the basic requirements for applicants is an intermediate level of Spanish.

Peace and all good!

Koinonia 2020 – 4 (N.108): Franciscan Economy for Seculars

Franciscan Economy for Seculars


Let us begin our discussion on Franciscan economy by looking at some details of the allegorical painting on Poverty in the Lower Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi. The painting is attributed to Giotto or better known as the School of Giotto and is dated around 1334. The scene is the mystical marriage of Lady Poverty with St. Francis, blessed by Jesus. Francis is depicted here as giving the wedding ring to Lady Poverty. But if you observe clearly you can find that the Lady Poverty is not keeping even the wedding ring for herself, but donate it to the virtue of Hope (Spes). What she receives on her right hand, gives it away with her left hand. She does not reserve anything, even the most intimate thing, for herself.

This is again another particular scene from the allegory of Poverty, where a young man (the young Francis before his conversion) is giving his cloak to a poor man. He is responding positively to the invitation of the angel to participate in the marriage.

And in this image you will find that the dress that the young man gives to the poor is taken by an angel to the hands of God. You see also another angel carrying a house to the same hands. The house is depicted with some agricultural land and a tree, fruit of work. They signify that when the basic needs (food, shelter, work and clothing) are given to the poor, they go to God.

Keeping these three images in mind let us begin our discussion on “Franciscan Economy for Seculars”. The objective of our study is to pay attention to the relational dimension of our economic and social life in which the human person is respected in his/her dignity. Our attention is limited to view how a secular Franciscan can respond to the challenges of the present economic crisis, aggravated by the pandemic of Covid-19, which has paralyzed greater part of economic activities around the world.


  • Koinonia 2020-4“Franciscan Economy for Seculars”– Fr. Alfred Parambakathu OFMConv

N. 108

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