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Visit to The Province of the Holy Name of Jesus in Brazil

From the 3rd to the 7th of March 2018, the general Minister, Br. Michael Anthony Perry, visited the province of the Holy Name of Jesus in Brazil accompanied by Br. Valmir Ramos, the area Definitor. This year this province celebrates 75 years of presence in the central area of Brazil.

The visit was begun in Brasilia in the friary that cares for a school and a parish in that capital of Brazil. The next day Br. Michael went to Anápolis, where the province has its curia. There he met the temporary professed friars and the postulants of the province, with whom he spoke about Franciscan identity and the formative process necessary to live the charism today. He visited social works supported by the province: hospital where the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany work, Bethany House that cares for AIDS patients, and two radios stations. He had a meeting with the Poor Clare Sisters assisted by the Friars. On the 6th he met all the friars of the province and shared the situation of the Order in the world today as well as the urgent need to authentically live our charism in light of the 5 priorities, despite all the activities and pastoral work in the service of the Church.

Alla conclusione della visita, Fr. Michael è andato a Catalão, dove si trova il noviziato interprovinciale della Provincia Santissimo Nome di Gesù, Custodia delle Sette Allegrezze della Madonna e Custodia del Sacro Cuore di Gesù. Al noviziato lui ha realizzato un incontro con i formatori e i Ministri di queste Entità.

At the end of the visit, Br. Michael went to Catalão, where there is the interprovincial novitiate of the Holy Name of Jesus Province, the custody of the Seven Joys of the Madonna and custody of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. At the novitiate he met with the formation directors and the Ministers of these entities.

 

A Week of Dialogue and Discovery

Br. John Wong, Custos of Singapore-Malaysia-Brunei and a member of the OFM Commission for Dialogue, spent a week in February with the Order of Interbeing, a Buddhist monastic family founded in 1966 by the renowned Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh.

From 9-11 February, Br. John visited Sangha Salento (Lecce, Italy) for “Three Days Together,” a program he co-led with the Italian monk Br. Phap Banh. The weekend united Buddhist mindfulness exercises with Gospel passages for meditation on Christ’s invitation in Matthew 11:29-30:  Rest in me. The publicity artwork, which depicted Christ inviting a disciple to find rest in him, was an original piece by Br. Phap Banh.

On the significance of the weekend, Br. Phap Banh told Br. John, “There is something very nice in an Italian Buddhist Monk and a Christian Malaysian Monk meeting together to offer peace. Many Italian people, hurt by Catholicism, are looking for something true, something alive in other religions. The teaching of [Thich Nhat Hanh], so simple and so deep, is bringing me to my true home: to Jesus alive in us. This is the best gift we can offer to ourselves and to the others.”

From 12-17 February, Br. John visited Plum Village, the monastic home of the Order of Interbeing in New Aquitaine, France. Br. John joined the monks and nuns of Plum Village in their mindfulness exercises, fraternal life, and preparations and celebrations of the Lunar New Year.

Br. John is working presently with the Order of Interbeing to develop a workshop for Franciscans working in Buddhist-majority countries and/or desiring dialogue with Buddhists. Please see “ofm.org” for future announcements.

It was in this of spirit of encounter and discovery that Br. John left Plumb Village and joined the Commission for Dialogue for its meeting in Mostar.

 

“3rd Franciscan Missionary Congress of Latin America and the Caribbean” webpage now online

Dear brothers and sisters of the Franciscan family, we communicate with great joy to you that the page for the “3rd Franciscan Missionary Congress of Latin America and the Caribbean” is now online. Via this page, you can follow the preparations for this great event. Please visit it and spread the news.

www.3er-congresofranciscanomisionero.org

 We are inviting our brothers and sisters of the American Continent to attend the “3rd Franciscan Missionary Congress of Latin America and the Caribbean”, in Guatemala, from 22 to 27 January 2018, in the context of the celebration of 50 years of UCLAF. The topics to be covered are: “New scenarios-new challenges: Caring for the creation- Human mobility – The culture of peace”.

Chapter of Union Dates and Updates from the Canadian Provinces

Forging a new bilingual Pan-Canadian OFM Province, Franciscan friars from the two existing Canadian Provinces, are planning a Chapter of Union on October 21-25, 2018 at Star of the North Retreat Centre in St. Albert, Alberta.  The launch of the new Province, which will include a public celebration on the evening of October 22 in St. Albert Parish Church, will be assisted by the presence of the Minister General.  A recent update went out to all friars who will belong to the new Province.  The update summarizes progress confirmed at a February 22-23, 2018, meeting of the two Provincial Definitories in Montreal, Quebec.

The Chapter of Union will be the second of two important gatherings this year.  On April 23-26, Canadian friars will assemble at Centre de Spiritualité des Ursulines in Loretteville, Quebec, for a Chapter of Mats to break open the theme Revitalisation and Evangelisation: Go Repair My House.  Capuchin friar David Couturier and diocesan priest Jean-Philippe Auger will animate reflections on the renewal of Franciscan life within the Canadian context.  This event aims to draw the friars closer together in their common mission to evangelise as they seek to revitalise their presence in Canada.

As preparations proceed, several committees, including a Mission and Evangelisation Committee, a Formation and Studies Committee, a Finance Committee, a Statues Committee, a Communications Committee and a Liturgy Committee are working in tandem with the existing Definitories, a Transition Committee (tasked to organise both chapters) and a Delegate General.  All friars have been invited into a discernment process around the name of the new Province, as an always longed for renewal of Franciscan life and mission takes shape.

 

Blessed Vincent Romano, diocesan priest and pastor

The Holy Father had an audience with Card. Angelo Amato, S.D.B., Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints on 6 March 2018. During this audience, Pope Francis authorized the Congregation to promulgate a decree regarding the miracle attributed to Blessed Vincent Romano, diocesan priest and pastor in Santa Croce, Torre del Greco (Naples). Bl. Vincent was born in Torre del Greco on June 3rd, 1751 and died there on December 20th, 1831.

Bl. Vincent Romano spent all of his life as a priest in Torre del Greco. He was pastor at Santa Croce, whose church he had rebuilt after it was destroyed in the disastrous eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 1794. After the example of the Good Shepherd, he guided the community under his care, confirming it in the faith and giving it life through his love. He cared for the poor and sick and was engaged in the social realities of his time, especially in matters associated with seafarers. When he died in 1831, his reputation for holiness was very well-known and he was beatified in 1963. In 1998 the cause for his canonization was entrusted to Br. Luca De Rosa, OFM Postulator General.

 

 

 

Medieval Franciscan Friary rediscovered in Oxford

For the first time for many centuries, archaeologists were able to see substantial parts of one of the university’s greatest medieval teaching institutions – a friary established by Franciscan friars in 1224.

It was of pivotal importance in the history of Oxford University.

Along with their rivals the Dominicans, the Franciscans were a major force in helping to transform the institution – by focusing on intellectually much more rigorous and challenging subject matter in the curriculum.

Although the university had already existed for a few decades, it had specialised in teaching practical vocationally oriented courses like letter writing, Latin grammar, classical speech making, basic maths and practical law.

However, the Franciscans and their Dominican colleagues and rivals introduced a new emphasis on theology in the curriculum which in turn led to the teaching of advanced philosophy, physics, natural history, geology and even optics. At that stage, theology was viewed as the most ultra-modern cutting-edge intellectual discipline – and was even dubbed “the Queen of the sciences”. The friars used theology and the contents of the Bible as a way into all those other disciplines.

Largely courtesy of those mediaeval friars, Oxford quickly evolved into the international centre of scholarship it still is today. The archaeological investigation is therefore revealing what Oxford life was like during that historically crucial transition.

[…]

The archaeological investigation is also important because the Franciscan Friary (known as Greyfriars) was home to some of the most important scholars in Oxford University’s history and indeed the wider history of European academic life.

Among the eminent medieval scholars who taught at Greyfriars were Robert Grosseteste (one of mediaeval Europe’s first great mathematicians and physicists), Roger Bacon (a philosopher, linguist and pioneer of empirical science), Haymo of Faversham (a top international diplomat who taught at Paris, Tours, Bologna and Padua as well as Oxford), John of Peckham (who became Archbishop of Canterbury), Peter Phillarges (an Italian Franciscan widely recognised as Pope in the early 14th century) and William of Ockham (an important philosopher and radical political theorist).

These “super friars” with great international reputations had the ear of kings and popes and put Oxford more prominently on the map, internationally. They, and their Oxford student ‘hall’ and friary (Greyfriars), were politically very influential and that in turn helped to give the university greater status, thus attracting ever more top teachers and students.

Text:  David Keys | Photos: Oxford Archaeology | independent.co.uk

For the complete text in English: Alchemy, flushing toilets and blood-letting: The secrets of medieval Oxford revealed

Commission for Dialogue –  Report from its Annual Meeting

The Commission for Dialogue held its annual meeting from 19-25 February. At the invitation of its member Br. Iko Skoko, it convened in Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina. In attendance were,

  • Russel Murray (General Curia, Rome), President.
  • Michael Calabria (Province of New York, “Holy Name,” USA), Vice President.
  • Apollinaire Bahinde (International Fraternity for Dialogue, Istanbul/Izmir).
  • James Puglisi, SA (Centro Pro Unione, Rome).
  • John Wong (Custody of Singapore-Malaysia-Brunei).
  • Iko Skoko (Province of Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina).
  • Lia Giovanazzi Beltrami (Aurora Vision, Trent).
  • Pradeep Kalliath (Province of India).
  • Riccardo Burigana (Istituto dei Studi Ecumenici, Venice).

 

The Commission reviewed the previous year’s commitments and established new commitments for the year ahead. Particular note may be made of the following items,

  • To make available resources for the formation of friars, as well as other religious and laity, in the fields of ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, particularly resources readily and easily available through the internet.
  • To develop “Schools of Dialogue” in different regions of the world where friars, in together with other religious and laity, may learn how to engage effectively in dialogue with the faithful of other Christian Churches and of other Faith Traditions.
  • To cultivate collaborative relationships that promote ecumenical and interreligious dialogue for the sake of a more just and peaceful world for all people.

 

The Commission also endorsed fully the program prepared by the Special Sub-Commission for Dialogue with Islam to mark the 800th anniversary of St. Francis’ encounter with Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil in Damietta. The program was presented by Br. Michael, President of the Special Commission; it included,

  • An online resource kit for friars and their partners-in-ministry to prepare to commemorate the anniversary of the Damietta Encounter.
  • A special commemoration of the Damietta Encounter to be led by the General Minister in the name of the Order.

 

In keeping with its mission to promote local ecumenical and interreligious initiatives by members of the Order of Friars Minor, the Commission met Br. Iko’s ecumenical and interreligious partners, as well as with civil authorities who support his work.

  • Archbishop of Sarajevo, H. E. Vinko Cardinal Puljić.
  • Mufti of Mostar, Salem Ef. Dedović.
  • Abbot of the Serbian Orthodox Monastery of the Annunciation in Mostar, Hegumen Daniel Pavlović.
  • Mayor of Mostar, Hon. Ljubo Bešlić.
  • Deputy Co-Mayors of Srebrinica, Hon. Senad Subašić.
  • Rector University of Mostar, Prof. Dr. Zoran Tomić.

 

The Commission personally thanked, in both its name and the name of the Order, the Provincial Minsters, as well as the local Guardians and Fraternities, who so warmly and generously welcomed it,

  • Provincial Minister of Mostar, Br. Miljenko Šteko.
  • Provincial Minister of Sarajevo, Br. Jozo Marinčić.
  • Provincial Minister of Split, Br. Joško Kodžoman.
  • Guardian in Sarajevo, Br. Mile Babić.
  • Guardian in Konjic, Br. Ferdo Boban.
  • Guardian in Široki Brijeg, Br. Tomislav Puljić.
  • Parish-Priest in Srebrenica/Zvornik, Br. Joso Orošilić.

 

The Commission was extremely moved during its visits. As its hosts recounted, Bosnia-Herzegovina is a land scared by three wars and seventy years of Communist rule, where memories of historical pain are as fresh as they are deep. If peace is to be its future, dialogue must be its present work. The Commission, therefore, commends the work of Br. Iko, his brothers and his partners. May it bear the fruit of that peace which surpasses all understanding.

The Commission will next meet in March 2019, at Santa Maria Draperis Friary in Istanbul, home of the Order’s International Fraternity for Dialogue.

 

V Chapter Under Ten: “Friars in Dialogue”

The Minister General together with his Definitory have convened the V Chapter Under Ten which will take place in Taizè (France) from July 7-14, 2019.

The previous chapters celebrated were: Santiago de Compostela (Spain, 1995); Canindé (Brazil, 2001); Holy Land (2007); Zapopan / Guadalajara (Mexico, 2012).

To facilitate the participation of all the Under Ten friars of the Order in this time of grace, the chapter work will be divided into three phases: Pre-Chapter, Chapter, Post-Chapter, structured according to the model: “See,” “Judge,” “Act,” respectively.

While the Chapter, which will take place in Taizé, will be attended by some representatives of each Entity of the Order, the Pre-Chapter and the Post-Chapter events will be held in the Entities themselves with the involvement of all the Under Ten friars.

The Chapter phase will be accessible to everyone as it progresses via the web address:

http://www.undertenofm.org/2019/en/.

 

May the Blessed Virgin, icon and model of the consecrated life, give fruitfulness to the work of the Chapter.

 

Download PDF of the Letter of the Minister General to Under Ten 2019:

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Visit to the Province of the Assumption of the BVM, Brazil

Br. Michael A. Perry visited the Province of the Assumption of the BVM (Brazil) from February 25th to March 2nd. He was accompanied by Br. Valmir Ramos, General Definitor for the region. At the beginning of the visit, the Province welcomed the Minister General in Teresina, where the local Archbishop Jacinto Furtado de Brito presided at a celebration attended by the friars of the Province, Capuchin friars, the Franciscan family, and many faithful. Br. Michael gave an address encouraging fidelity to Christ, the Gospel, and the Franciscan charism.

While in Teresina, Br. Michael met with the Provincial Definitory, listened to their hopes and fears, and shared something of the state of the Order. He also had an encounter with the friars in Initial Formation, listening to them and reflecting with them on a rapidly changing world with which we need to be engaged in order to better live out our charism. On March 1st, he met all the friars of the Province in a dialogue session. Taking a passage from Mark 1:9-18 as his starting point, he highlighted Jesus’ experience as the Beloved, an experience that can also be ours. He also spoke of our personal encounter with the Lord; of being able to see our brother as a Sacrament of God’s presence; and of the need to have a Franciscan ecclesiology in accordance with the documents Evangelii Gaudium and Laudato si’.

Br. Michael also visited a project founded in 1995 that cares for women and girls who are victims of sexual exploitation and abuse. Another highlight was a celebration of the Province’s 65th anniversary during which Br. Carlos Magno de Souza Santos, OFM was ordained to the priesthood.

Statement on the re-opening of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

After three days of closure, the doors of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher were reopened on February 28th at 4:00 in the morning.

Following is the official declaration on the reopening:

Statement on the re-opening of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

We, the heads of Churches in charge of the Holy Sepulcher and the Status Quo governing the various Christian Holy Sites in Jerusalem – the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, the Custody of the Holy Land and the Armenian Patriarchate – give thanks to God for the statement released earlier today by Prime Minister Netanyahu and offer our gratitude to all those who have worked tirelessly to uphold the Christian presence in Jerusalem and to defend the Status Quo.

After the constructive intervention of the Prime Minister, The Churches look forward to engagewith Minister Hanegbi, and with all those who love Jerusalem to ensure that Our Holy City, where our Christian presence continues to face challenges, remains a place where the three Monotheistic faiths may live and thrive together.

Following these recent developments we hereby announce that the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, that is the site of the crucifixion of Our Lord andalso of His Resurrection, will be reopened to the pilgrims tomorrow, February 28th, 2018 at 4.00 AM.

 

THEOPHILOS III
Patriarch of Jerusalem

FRANCESCO PATTON
Custos of the Holy Land

NOURHAN MANOUGIAN
Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem

The Visit of the General Minister to the Custody of San Benedetto of Amazonia in Brazil

From 18 to 26 February 2018, the General Minister, Br. Michael Anthony Perry, visited the Custody of Amazonia in Brazil accompanied by Br. Valmir Ramos, the area’s General Definitor. Arriving on the 18th in Manaus, he was received by the brothers of St. Bonaventure Friary, which houses the Friar students of philosophy who attend the Salesian University in Manaus.

From Manaus Br. Michael went to Boa Vista, where the Brazilian conference maintains an interprovincial missionary fraternity from 1992. There he celebrated with the brothers by thanking God for his 25 years of mission in the extreme north of Brazil. There, general Minister could see the situation of the Church in the state of Roraima, which is quite difficult because of the distances, the lack of diocesan clergy, the unbridled growth of the city of Boa Vista, and the arrival of the Venezuelan migrants who, in 2017, were circa 70,000.

In Santarém, where the seat of the custody is located, Br. Michael met the majority of the Friars and the Council of the custody. He also celebrated the Eucharist with the Franciscan Family of that great area of Amazonia. The program of the visit to the Mission St. Francis in the River Cururu, the oldest continuous mission of the friars, was suspended due to incessant torrential rain.

The visit to the custody ended in Belém, with the community that cares for a very lively and socially active parish.

Churches in Jerusalem close the Holy Sepulcher in protest

In an extraordinary step, for the first time in its long history, the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher has closed its doors in protest at unprecedented attacks on the rights and property of the Christian community. This dramatic event took place in Jerusalem on the morning of Sunday February 25th and is part of a protest that will go on indefinitely. The entrance to the shrine most visited by Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land is closed, with a sign saying: “Enough is enough; stop the persecution of the Churches”. The poster also features a picture of the mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, who in recent weeks unilaterally abolished historically recognized Church exemptions to municipal taxes and mandated that the Churches’ current accounts could be seized to cover arrears.

A declaration regarding the protest has been signed by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III, the Custos of the Holy Land Br. Francesco Patton, and the Armenian Patriarch Nourhan Manougian, leaders of the three communities that, on behalf of the entire Christian tradition, administer the Basilica and other major holy sites in Jerusalem.

The official document can be read below:

Statement on Municipal threats and the discriminatory “Church Lands Bill”

We, the heads of Churches in charge of the Holy Sepulcher and the Status Quo governing the various Christian Holy Sites in Jerusalem – the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, the Custody of the Holy Land and the Armenian Patriarchate – are following with great concern the systematic campaign against the Churches and the Christian community in the Holy Land, in flagrant violation of the existing Status Quo.

Recently, this systematic and offensive campaign has reached an unprecedented level as the Jerusalem municipality issued scandalous collection notices and orders of seizure of Church assets, properties and bank accounts for alleged debts of punitive municipal taxes. A step that is contrary to the historic position of the Churches within the Holy City of Jerusalem and their relationship with the civil authorities. These actions breach existing agreements and international obligations which guarantee the rights and the privileges of the Churches, in what seems as an attempt to weaken the Christian presence in Jerusalem. The greatest victims in this are those impoverished families who will go without food and housing, as well as the children who will be unable to attend school.

The systematic campaign of abuse against Churches and Christians reaches now its peak as a discriminatory and racist bill that targets solely the properties of the Christian community in the Holy Land is being promoted. This abhorrent bill is set to advance today in a meeting of a ministerial committee which if approved would make the expropriation of the lands of churches possible. This reminds us all of laws of a similar nature which were enacted against the Jews during dark periods in Europe.

This systematic and unprecedented attack against Christians in the Holy Land severely violates the most basic, ab antiquo and sovereign rights, trampling on the delicate fabric of relations between the Christian community and the authorities for decades.

THEREFORE, and recalling the Statement of the Patriarchs and Heads of Local Churches in Jerusalem, dated 14 February, 2018 and their previous statement of September 2017, as a measure of protest, we decided to take this unprecedented step of closure of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Together with all Heads of Churches in the Holy Land we stand united, firm and resolute in protecting our rights and our properties.

May the Holy Spirit answer our prayers and bring a resolution to this historic Crisis in our Holy City.

THEOPHILOS III
Patriarch of Jerusalem

FRANCESCO PATTON
Custos of the Holy Land

NOURHAN MANOUGIAN
Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem

“Laudato Si’- The integral ecology by Pope Francis for the safeguarding of the common home:” a conference in Jerusalem

“Laudato Si’”- The integral ecology by Pope Francis for the safeguarding of the common home” is the title of the conference that will take place on March 12 at 9 a.m. at the Notre Dame Center in Jerusalem. It has been organized by the Custody of the Holy Land’s Commission for Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation with the intention of presenting Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ and of discussing the topic of protecting the “common home” with the Israeli and Palestinian communities. In addition to the Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton, Card. Peter Turkson, Prefect of the Department for Integral Human Development, and Prof. Mohammed S. Dajani Daoudi, the director and founder of the Wasatia Academic Graduate Institute, will also be present. Also participating in the event will be Rabbi David Rosen, the International Director of Interreligious Affairs (AJC) and Prof. Stefano Zamagni, a professor of economics at the University of Bologna and a member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. The conference is under the patronage of the Department for Integral Human Development, the Apostolic Delegation of the Holy See in Jerusalem and Palestine, and the Assembly of Catholic Priests of the Holy Land. The lectures will take place in the morning and the afternoon on March 12, with simultaneous translation in English and Italian. Admission is free.

For more information: www.custodia.org

Serata Laudato Si’ in Rome – An Event Promoting the Message of the Encyclical Laudato Si’

Laudato Si’ Cultural Evening in Rome 

An Event Promoting the Message of the Encyclical Laudato Si’

 

This Cultural Evening expresses our appreciation and gratitude to Pope Francis for his Encyclical Laudato Si’ on the care of the common home and is a sign of restitution to the “Lord God Most High” because we “acknowledge that all good belongs to Him.” For this reason, we Friars Minor wish to share this Event with the Church and civil society so that we may proclaim with one voice: Laudato si’, mi’ Signore.

This Cultural Evening will sensitize everyone to the care of the environment, our common home, as Pope Francis often says, and invite us to commitment ourselves to the values ​​promoted in Laudato si’. Love for Creation belongs to the essence of our Franciscan charism. As Franciscans we are always called to express this love, in the spirit of St. Francis.

 

Principal Artists

Eugenio Maria Fagiani

The Piccolo Coro “Mariele Ventre” dell’Antoniano di Bologna

Fr. Alessandro Brustenghi, OFM

 

March 23, 2018 – 7:00 p.m.

Basilica of San Antonio al Laterano, Via Merulana, 124, 00185 Rome RM, Italy

Event with free registration:

http://www.seratalaudatosi.org/#registrazione

 

JPIC Office
General Curia

 

Open our hearts to the novelty that God offers | The General Minister’s Homily for the visit in Brazil and the Southern Cone

On February 12, 2018, the General Minister, Br. Michael Anthony Perry, shared the following words during the opening Mass of the meeting between the two conferences (Brazil and the Southern Cone) in Sao Paolo, Brazil.

Dear brothers and sisters, the Lord give you peace!

“Why does this generation ask for a sign?” One of the greatest difficulties that humans have is our uncontrollable desire to have an absolute confirmation of what we call truth. And the greater our lack of imagination and wonder, the more we seek clarity, even extraordinary, signs to confirm something that, in many cases, we know is true, but for one reason or another we refuse to accept.

In today’s gospel, it happens that way.

[…]

“Jesus sighs deeply,” probably out of frustration and sorrow at such a great blindness. and he concludes, “No sign will be given to this generation!” He left them and went to the other side of the lake. It’s no use showing a nice painting to those who don’t want to open their eyes. Those who close their eyes cannot see!

So what does it take for each of us to open our hearts to the novelty that God is looking to offer to the world, to the church and to us that we are friars minor in these times of tremendous change and in these regions of the order?

St. Francis of Assisi offers us a way to move forward. In his testament to the brethren he reveals how the disciples of Jesus must respond in faith to what God is asking of each one of them. It is not a matter of knowledge, although we must study the signs of the times, as the Second Vatican Council reminded us. Nor is it a matter of having control over everything, as if power were the key to a deeper faith. This is something that governments and even the Church, the Order must still learn.

Let’s now hear the words of St. Francis, who received a new vision of God and a new vision of humanity, which led him to embrace Jesus, lepers and all people and nature as brothers and sisters in a completely new and liberated way.

The Lord gave to me, Brother Francis, thus to begin to do penance; for when I was in sin it seemed to me very bitter to see lepers, and the Lord Himself led me amongst them and I showed mercy to them. And when I left them, that which had seemed to me bitter was changed for me into sweetness of body and soul. And afterwards I remained a little and I left the world.

Click here to see the full text of the homily in Spanish.

General Definitorium meets with Brazilian and Southern Cone Conferences

The meeting of the General Minister and his Council with the Conferences of Friars Minor of the Southern Cone (Argentina, Chile and Paraguay) and Brazil began on Monday, February 12, 2018, in the historic St. Francis Convent in São Paulo, Brazil.  The successor of St. Francis of Assisi, Br. Michael Perry, opened the gathering with the Eucharistic Celebration at 7:30 am, with the concelebrants, Provincial Minister Br. Fidêncio Vanboemmel and Provincial Minister Br. Inácio Dellazari, President of the Brazilian Conference.

The meeting of the General Minister and his Council with the friars of the two Conferences continued in the Hall of St. Damasus, in the cloister of the Convent. In addition to Br. Michael, also present were: Vicar General Br. Julio César Bunader and Definitors: Br. Valmir Ramos, Br. Ignacio Ceja, Br. Nicodeme Kibuzehose, Br. Ivan Sesar, Br. Lino Gregorio Redoblado, Br. Caoimhín Ó Laoide and Br. Antonio Scabio. Br. Jürgen Neitzert, the Definitor General from Germany, was not present in São Paulo due to the death of his father.

In attendance from the Conference of the Southern Cone are Br. Isauro Covili (Province of the Most Holy Trinity – Chile), Br. Emilio Andrada (Province of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin of Rio de la Plata – Argentina and Paraguay) and Br. Daniel Alejandro Fleitas Zeni (Province of San Francisco Solano, Argentina).

From the Brazilian Conference of Brazil: Br. Inácio Dellazari (Province of St. Francis of Assisi), Br. Fidêncio Vanboemmel (Province of the Immaculate Conception), Br. Hilton Farias de Souza (Province of Santa Cruz), Br. Rogério Viterbo de Souza (Custody of the Seven Joys of Our Lady); Br. Marco Aurélio Cruz (Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus), Br. Francisco de Assis da Paixão (Custody of St. Benedict), Br. Bernardo de Souza Brandão Neto (Province of Our Lady of the Assumption), Br. João Amilton dos Santos (Province of St. Anthony), and Br. Flaerdi Valvassori (Custody of the Sacred Heart of Jesus).

Br. Inácio opened the presentations with an overview of the Conference of Brazil and the challenges facing the friars in a country as big as Brazil. He then spoke of the evangelizing work and history of the Province of St. Francis, in Rio Grande do Sul, where he is Provincial Minister.

Br. Fidêncio closed the morning with the presentation of the Province of the Immaculate Conception, the second oldest in Brazil.

For more information on the meetings click here (in Portuguese).

Meeting of the General Definitory with the Bolivarian and Our Lady of Guadalupe Conferences  

The meeting of the Minister General and his Definitory with the Bolivarian and Guadalupe Conferences took place at the port of Veracruz in Mexico from 3rd to 8th February. Attending, in addition to the ten friars of the General Definitory, were ten Provincial Ministers, a Custos and two Provincial Vicars coming from the fourteen entities which make up the two Conferences.  The event took place in the context of the 494th Anniversary of the arrival of the so-called “Twelve Franciscan Apostles” in the then “New Spain” in 1524 which marked the beginning of a systematic and orderly evangelization in continental America.

In parallel, whilst sharing moments of prayer, food and fraternity, the meeting of the Under Ten brothers from the twelve Provinces that make up the Conferences was taking place. Thirty-four friars in total took part and as well as sharing their dynamism, dreams and worries, they studied several documents and discussed their vocation, mission and  the challenges which they have to confront.

The gathering was enriched by fraternal meetings, analysis of the Entities, reflection and dialogue with the fundamental question of what God is asking of the Friars Minor today in the Church, in the Order and, more specifically, in the Bolivarian, Caribbean, Central American and Mexican regions being always at the forefront of our minds.  Having listened to the reports of the Provincial Ministers and Custodians and discussed the matters arising, the Minister General, Fr. Michael Anthony Perry outlined several indications for the renewal of the Entities and made concrete recommendations to them.

To celebrate the arrival in Mexico of the first Franciscan missionaries the Minister General on Saturday 3rd February, blessed a statue of Fr. Martin de Valencia (the leader of the group of twelve) sited in a square of the town of Veracruz, and proceeded then in procession to the Cathedral where he presided at a solemn holy mass and thanked God for the gift of salvation offered by Christ to all peoples. He said, “Today we remember the generosity and dedication of Fray Martin de Valencia and his companions who through their words and actions, and with great sacrifice, rendered the salvation of Christ actual in their time, and recognize the necessity for us to renew ourselves in Jesus Christ so that we may incarnate the impulse that inspired these great missionaries to share the joy of the Gospel”.

In order to raise awareness in those present of various experiences and service that the friars offer in the region some moments were dedicated to that. Fr. Tomás González reported on the situation of the migrants travelling from Central America to the United States through the territory of Mexico and the work that is done in “The 72. The Home of the Migrant”.  We visited “Las Patronas”, a group of ordinary women who give something to eat to the Central American migrants, who travel on the goods train called “The Beast” from the south to the north of Mexico. We prayed for peace along the tracks of the same train. There was also a visit to the Franciscan Library of Cholula, Puebla, which has a valuable collection of books and historical documents. There, the Minister General presented a written recognition to Fr. Francisco Morales, doctor in history and Director of the Library, for his contribution to research and publicizing of the history of the Franciscans in the Americas.

The programme concluded with the celebration of the Eucharist in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the city of Mexico, where Fr. Michael, starting from the Gospel passage of the visit of Mary to her cousin, Elizabeth, thanked God for the joy of the meeting and concluded  by saying, “however the dialogue between Mary and Elizabeth developed, each one of them discovered something new, a new sense of their identity in God and an inexhaustible blessing  which has begun to invade their lives”.  In conclusion he invited those present to share with urgency the joy they received from God so that his power could act within each person and in the whole world.

A deep note of thanks to the Conference of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which hosted this meeting, for their fraternal hospitality, and in particular to the friars of the Province of the Holy Gospel of Mexico, led by their Provincial Minister, Fr Juan Medina. The meeting was not only organized in an excellent manner, but it was also an occasion for the brothers to hear, feel, contemplate and savour in many ways the Mexican culture and warmth.

2018 Celebration of the Week of Christian Unity in Istanbul

From January 20 to 27, 2018, prayer sessions for the unity of Christians were held in Istanbul (Turkey).  Br. Eleuthère, Guardian of the Franciscan friary, the Church of Santa Maria Draperis, reported that their place was chosen for the opening of this event, important for both the Church in general and for the fraternity in particular.  This choice was motivated by the cultural plurality of the community at Santa Maria, as well as that of their parishioners.  The theme of the week, “Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power” (Ex 15,6), prepared by Caribbean Christians, was widely felt by members of the parish communities, largely composed of immigrants from different countries with backgrounds more similar to that of the Caribbean.

“During this week,” said Br. Eleuthère, “despite our being a minority in Istanbul, we experienced the beauty and richness of the churches. All the traditional churches that were represented together with churches of the reformation could easily feel what St. Irenaeus affirmed years ago: ‘Here is the Church.’”

The Franciscan Fraternity of Santa Maria Draperis is part of the International Fraternity for Dialogue, which promotes ecumenical and interreligious dialogue in the name of the Order. The International Fraternity for Dialogue is part of the Blessed Giles Foundation, and is directly dependent upon the Minister General.

 

“Alegria, the Joy offered by God” | The Minister General’s Concluding Homily for the Visit in Mexico

On February 7, 2018, at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Minister General, Br. Michael Anthony Perry, shared the following words during the final celebration of the gathering in Mexico.

 

 

My dear Brothers of the Gospel life: May the Lord give you his peace!

Alegria! This word describes something of what we have experienced during these past number of days as guests and brothers in the Province of Santo Evangelio, Mexico, sharing life together, telling stories about hopes and dreams but also about disappointments and moments of sadness. We have laughed, shared food, sang and danced. We have visited places where suffering humanity passes, where believers and disciples of Christ offer to brothers and sisters who have fled from their homes and counties taking the rail highway in order to find some place where they might live in peace and with dignity and opportunity. Perhaps what has been most important during these days has been the mutual recognition that God is alive in our world. God is working in each one of us, in our fraternities, in the Foundation, the Custodies, the Provinces, and the worldwide Order. Despite the fact that we  do not always respond generously and freely to God’s invitation, still, God comes in search of us, sending messengers when necessary, to pull us back into the circle of His great love and mercy.

“Each time we witness a return to the original spirit of the Gospel, to pure, unadulterated, courageous following of Jesus in poverty, humility, simplicity and trust, happiness and the joy of the children of God are seen to come to life again.”

These words from Mother Teresa reveal something about what is taking place in the Gospel from St. Luke we have heard proclaimed in this sacred Basilica of Tepeyac, dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe. In the course of their visit and sharing, we witness an eruption of joy: the ‘baby leapt’ in Elizabeth’s womb. This eruption of joy is not the result simply of two human beings who love and care for each another coming together to laugh, cry, and support one another. Nor is it because they were perfect in every sense of the world. One could not conceive and bear a son; the other was pregnant but had no husband. But it is precisely in such situations of human weakness, shame, of ‘impossibility’ that God makes great things happen, miracles! Whatever else took place in the dialogue between Mary and Elizabeth, each of them discovered something new, a new sense of their identity in God, and a type of blessing and offer of holiness that was taking deeper root in their lives. Their bodies and their spirits were being transformed, opening new directions and possibilities for them and for all of humanity to discover the author of life, God; to be embraced by this same loving God; and to be invited into authentic discipleship, becoming co-disciples and co-missionaries with Mary and Elizabeth, with all of the Apostles, and with all of humanity.

The joy spoken of in the Bible texts flows from the heart of God, from the Trinity of beings who share perfect communion and who seek to draw us into their ‘dance’. In all instances where the Biblical writers speak about joy, they indicate four distinct but interrelated themes or ‘actions’.

First, the joy offered by God to humanity cannot be manufactured or cloned no matter how great our technology. It is pure gift from God.

Second, authentic joy can be recognized only by those who have hearts open to search, to perceive, and to receive it. When this happens; when the hearts and minds of human beings are open to the working of God’s grace and love, a new space opens up within us, as happened in the lives of Mary and Elizabeth, in the life of San Juan Diego.

Third, the joy promised and given by God is given within the context of friendship and fraternity/community. It flows from the deep and abiding relationship shared by God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in the Trinity, and is destined to be experienced between human beings and with God.

And fourth, evangelical joy is meant to be shared with others. It contains within itself the seeds for a ‘new evangelization’, leading those who receive this gift to ‘go out to the peripheries of the world with the joy of the Gospel’ (2015 Final Document of General Chapter). Authentic joy received from God needs to be shared in order for its saving power to be fully released within us and within our world.

Brothers, we are here in this sanctuary of our Lady of Guadalupe. But none of this would have been possible had San Juan Diego (1531) not opened his heart to the will of God speaking through the Virgin Mary, promising to bring peace and joy to all who would come to this sacred spiritual center. Those who come here to pray recognize in Mary a perfect model of what it means to trust unconditionally and freely in God’s promise of life and life to the full (John 10:10).  Mary is honored for her unparalleled status as the mother of the Lord. But she also is honored at the ‘first disciple’, as someone who placed her entire will, her life, her entire being into God’s hands, allowing God to work His miracle in her life.

Faith; identity; fraternity; missionary zeal – these four areas that we have been discussing these past days are intimately connected with the experience of evangelical joy in the life and witness of Mary and Elizabeth, San Juan Diego, St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Clare. God seeks to pour out his spirit of grace, peace, and joy into our lives, so that this joy might take root in our local Franciscan fraternities, our Order, our Church, and our world. We must be willing to go deep within ourselves and open our hearts to God (Prayer) the source of our hope, our joy. We must also be willing to go out from ourselves, opening our lives to one another in fraternity, a privileged place for receiving the revelation of Jesus Christ. It is from this same fraternity that we are called to go out two by two announcing the joy and peace with which we have been blessed and for which we are now called to go and share with all of humanity and the natural environment (Mission).

Brothers, may we like Mary allow the Holy Spirit to take possession of our lives and our fraternities so that we might become what we receive in and through the Eucharist: food for humanity, sign of the sacramental presence of God in the world, a world beloved and redeemed by God.

Brothers, let us join in prayer, using words written by Pope Francis (Evangelii Gaudium 288):

 

Mary, Virgin and Mother,

you who, moved by the Holy Spirit,

welcomed the world of life in the depths of your humble faith:

as you gave yourself completely to the Eternal One,

help us to say our own ‘yes’

to the urgent call, as pressing as ever,

to proclaim the good news of Jesus…

Star of the new evangelization,

help us to bear radiant witness to communion,

service, ardent and generous faith,

justice and love of the poor,

that the joy of the Gospel may reach to the ends of the earth,

illuminating even the fringes of our world.

Alleluia! Amen! Alleluia!

Oldalak