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“And I am” Vocations Campaign in Poland Enjoying Media Attention

The Franciscan Youth and Vocation Center of the Province of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Poland has released a series of videoclips for the Week of Prayer for Vocations and has received an enthusiastic response from the media.

The videos present testimonials from various friars talking about their vocations. Using the same formula for everyone, each friar introduces himself, then he describes his dreams before he entered the Order and then concludes with the phrase: “I Jestem” (And I Am).

Some of the friars interviewed (in Polish) were:

Br. Albert who spoke why he did not pursue his dream of becoming a lifeguard or an athlete. Now 27 years old and a Solemnly Professed friar, he feels fulfilled that he belongs totally and forever to the Order of Friars Minor.

Br. Euzebiusz dreamt of becoming a surgeon, a dancer, to have a family and a house with a big garden and…a long beard! He is 34 years old and has been in the Order for 15 years.

Br. Henoch was an altar server and wanted to be a physiotherapist. He is 29 years old and is currently studying philosophy.

Br. Marcin, 32, used to work in a pub, enjoys hip-hop and was recording music to become a rapper.

Br. Pio loves Japanese cartoons and wanted to be a soccer player like the figure Captain Tsubasa.  He worked in a hospital, in a coalmine and in constructions. He is now 35 years old and a student of theology.

Br. Hiacynt had a dream to become a hero like Bruce Lee in films, later to become a soldier and a husband. He is 43 years old and is finishing his post-novitiate formation.

Each of their stories reveals the uniqueness, beauty and sacredness of every Franciscan vocation.  The videos can be viewed on the FCMP Trzej Towarzysze YouTube channel.

 

Franciscan friar and volunteer doctor at the service of COVID patients

On 5 May 2020, ilpopolotortona.it published an article “From Assisi Friary to Covid Hospital”, an interview with Br. Andrea, Franciscan and volunteer doctor who shares his skills in the service of the sick:

Andrea Dovio, 44 years old, Franciscan, Friar Minor of the Seraphic Province of Umbria. Friar of the Portiuncula Friary in Assisi and a doctor of internal medicine. He graduated in Turin, his hometown, where he later obtained his Doctorate and then specialised in Internal Medicine, working at the “San Luigi” Hospital in Orbassano until he was 32 years old, in 2008, when he felt that his vocation was elsewhere. But what is Father Andrea doing here in Tortona today?

[…]

“I am here out of love for the Lord Jesus, because it is from his words and his gestures that the meaning of service flows. During this pandemic, like all my confreres, I felt the need to rethink my activities so that I could help those in need. Immediately, from the second week of March, there was a strong call for me to put my medical skills back at the disposal of those who were in need”.

Friar Andrea was ordained a priest in Assisi by Bishop Domenico Sorrentino on 23 June 2018. He spent the last five years in San Damiano first as a priest and then as vice-master of novices, then at the Portiuncula where he is still Secretary of the Province. It has been a long time since he practised medicine, but he did not forget anything about his work before entering the friary, neither his knowledge nor his approach to the patient.

“At the outbreak of the emergency, I asked myself: how can I serve my neighbour? Listening to the reports of the epidemic and the repeated appeals of the political and health authorities, I felt, on the one hand, the power of the Doctors’ Code of Ethics which in article 8 states that “in the event of catastrophe, calamity or epidemic” the doctor must make himself available. On the other hand, I felt a sense of solidarity with so many friends and colleagues serving at the front line, together with the desire to help the people, the people of God, the sick, as both the Pope and our Provincial Minister have invited us to do. Moreover, history has always seen religious in the front line in plagues, even though I am aware that we are not in the 1600s and certainly some models are not applicable today”.

Friar Andrea, therefore, decided to write to his superior, Friar Claudio Durighetto, asking him to accept his desire to assist those suffering with Covid. “At first I was thinking of the Red Cross, then, knowing your bishop Vittorio and knowing the situation in Tortona, I made my way to this hospital”.

Read the complete text (in Italian) by Matteo Colombo on www.ilpopolotortona.it

 

Franciscans International: 30 years at the United Nations

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

It is with great joy that I present this publication on behalf of the Conference of the Franciscan Family:

Download the booklet

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As we mark the 30th anniversary of our common ministry at the United Nations, the stories before you offer a window into the work of Franciscans International, both past and present. With it, we also pay tribute to Brother Dionysius Mintoff OFM and the late Sister Elizabeth Cameron OSF, who first recognized the need for Franciscans to engage with the international community in search for common, just, lasting solutions to the most intractable of social and environmental problems.

When they suggested bringing our voices to the UN in 1982, many of us immediately felt a strong affinity with this idea. The core values enshrined in the founding charter of the UN echo Francis’ and Clare’s dedication to peace, the poor, and the planet. We also felt a responsibility. If the UN is indeed the forum where leaders of the world gather to make the decisions that affect all of us sharing this common home, we need to be there – to build bridges, to bring people together, and to share our testimony.

Although the development of our ministry has, at times, been tumultuous, it has always been a powerful channel for dialogue and positive change. Through its presence in New York and Geneva, it amplifies the voices of our sisters and brothers working at the grassroots, where many share their lives with the people and are subject to similar conditions – those that are contrary to the will of God and an affront to human freedom, dignity, and integral development of persons, communities, and nations.

Thirty years after FI was officially recognized by the UN, we find ourselves at a crossroads in history that is defined both by its promise for progress as well as the threat of regression and isolation. As we face this challenge, we remain convinced that FI’s role as our voice at the UN remains as important as ever.

On behalf of the Generals and Representatives of the Conference of the Franciscan Family, I wish to state unequivocally our gratitude to all those Franciscans and others who have worked directly or indirectly with FI over these past three decades, and to guarantee our commitment to the mission for which itwas created and towards which it continues to journey.

Peace and all good.

On behalf of the Conference of the Franciscan Family,

Br. Michael A. Perry, OFM
Minister General

 

Members of the Conference of the Franciscan Family (2020)

Michael Perry OFM • Carlos Alberto Trovarelli OFMConv • Roberto Genuin OFMCap

Amando Trujillo Cano TOR • Deborah Lockwood IFC-TOR • Tibor Kauser OFS

THE FRANCISCAN EXPERIENCE & RESPONSE: COVID19 & BEYOND – Video conference of the Order about COVID-19

On 29th April the Order held a high-level online consultation on the Order’s response and learnings from the global COVID19 crisis. Attendees include the General Minister, Br. Michael Perry, and representatives from Missionszentrale der Franziskaner, Franciscans International, Franciscan Mediterranean Network, Franciscan Network on Migration (RFM), representatives from the JPIC Animation Committee and JPIC Conference coordinators.

The participants talked about how the COVID19 pandemic has exacerbated social and economic divisions in society. There is a fear that the pandemic will see more deaths from poverty than from the virus itself. The lockdowns and the economic slowdown have seen a disproportionate loss of income amongst those living at the peripheries. The immediate need we face is the call for food and safe shelter.

With the growth of “strong man” governments around the world, there is a growing lack of trust in government by those at the margins. Restriction to protect people’s health are often viewed as a denying the human rights of people. The lack of consideration of the needs of marginal communities has seen the poor delivery of medical and support services and conflicts with the police. There is an increased feeling amongst marginalized people that they are forgotten and “voiceless”.

Fear of the stranger has grown during this crisis. While borders may have been closed for health reasons there has also been a hardening of heart against non-citizens. This is being expressed in fear of strangers, racism and harsher rhetoric against foreigners, particularly refugees. Migrants are often being told to “go home” and not included in support programs.

Governments are already discussing plans for economic recovery from the pandemic. There is a fear that their economic models are not people focused. Already we are seeing discussions by governments about the weakening of laws in the areas of climate change, environmental protection and workers’ rights, to promote economic growth. Who benefits from this notion of economic growth?

There are challenges and opportunities presented to the Order by the pandemic experience.

In the period of lockdown and social isolation people have increasingly turned to support from family and their local community. That support is not only material but spiritual.  People are not just sharing food but communal songs, stories and art. There is a renewed sense of belonging to a local community. In lockdowns and social isolation, we are discovering we need each other.

A dramatic drop in pollution in urban areas, caused by the economic slowdown, has opened the eyes of people to the potential of what the world could look like if we acted to care more deeply for the environment.

The online conference had a discernment discussion on how God was calling the Order to respond through these “signs of the times.”

We asked the question: Are the friars prepared to serve with those at the periphery? It was proposed that we need to look to ensure formation experiences lead friars into the life of the marginalized, help them embrace the leper, and see the world through their eyes. In times of struggle we need to have our hearts in the right place to be able to give what little we have to those most in need.

Our Order’s international networks, which provide mutual support and understanding, sharing of resources and give a voice to those at the peripheries, are a strength of the Order.

Our ministries could be enhanced, at both the global and local level, by increased dialogue and cooperation with those with expertise in community development. Too often we focus just on the immediate material needs of people rather than acting to support community development and resilience.

The call of God to St Francis, “Go rebuild my House”, is God’s call to us today. Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ and social teachings are a prophetic challenge to our Order.

Our Franciscan spirituality, with its focus on fraternity and the environment, does have something to say to the world today. However, they cannot remain ideas! Our spirituality, our development of model of an Economy of Care and the teachings from Laudato Si’ need to be made concrete in the lives of the friars and the communities in which they serve.

Br. Joe McKay, OFM
JPIC Coordinator of SAAOC – Brisbane

 

 

Feast of the Discovery of the Holy Cross of Christ: experience of healing and the reality of Salvation

The Franciscans of the Custody of the Holy Land celebrated at the Holy Sepulchre the feast of the discovery of the Holy Cross. A devotion celebrated since the year 327 when Saint Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine, found in this very grotto the Cross on which Jesus was crucified. A devotion witnessed over the centuries by St. Rufino, St. Ambrose, the pilgrim Egeria, the historian Socrates and others.

A staircase of 27 steps leads to the chapel of the Armenians, where a painting represents the scene of the Finding. Then a further 21 steps lead down to the cave.

Here, always following the indications useful to counter the spread of the Coronavirus, the first Vespers were celebrated and, during the night, the Eve of the celebration half an hour after midnight.

On the morning of May 7, the Solemn Mass was presided by Br. Francesco Patton, Custos of the Holy Land, concelebrated by the Vicar Custodial Br. Dobromir Jasztal, Br. Salvador Rosas, President of the Franciscan Convent of the Holy Sepulchre, Br. Ibrahim Faltas and the Franciscan community.

“This year,” the Custodian stressed in his homily, “the feast of the rediscovery of the Holy Cross and the readings we have heard acquire a special meaning because of the pandemic that is afflicting the whole world.”

At the end of Mass, there is the procession to the place of the Resurrection, three rounds around the shrine over the tomb of Jesus and one last round around the Stone of Anointing, passing under Calvary where the Cross gave us Salvation.

In the Holy Sepulchre and in all the sanctuaries of the Holy Land where a Franciscan community lives, there is a constant prayer for all humanity.

 

Br FRANCESCO PATTON, ofm
Holy Land Custos
“Our communities here at the Sepulchre, at the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem, in Nazareth, but also in all the other shrines, are intensifying the rhythm of community prayer: we are praying particularly intensely for all the sick, for those who work in hospitals and for those who have to make decisions that are not always easy.”

Br. Francesco Patton wanted to reflect on one aspect in particular: the passage from the experience of healing to the experience of salvation.

 

Br FRANCESCO PATTON, ofm
Holy Land Custos
“The experience of healing is a very important thing. We know this when we are sick: the desire is to heal. But the experience of healing in a Christian perspective is insufficient; it is somehow a kind of allusion to a much deeper reality, which is the reality of Salvation. It is the realization that my life is already in God’s hands, and the realization that God’s life is already sown within my existence and my person: I am united in a profound relationship with Jesus Christ, His Spirit dwells in me and the whole Trinity dwells in me. This is the experience of salvation, the experience of a life with God that already begins now and that one day will pass through the Paschal experience of death to be shared fully and forever in the life of God.”

At the Edicule, at the altar of Mary Magdalene and in the Chapel of the Apparition to the Virgin Mary, the friars sang: “Hail Cross, the only hope, / which brings Easter joy”. And Brother Francesco Patton shared with everyone a prayer composed by St. John Paul II:

“O triumphant Cross of Christ, inspire us to continue the task of evangelization! O glorious Cross of Christ, strengthen us to proclaim and live the Gospel of salvation! O victorious Cross of Christ, our only hope, lead us to the joy and peace of the Resurrection and eternal life! Amen”

 

Source: cmc-terrasanta.org

Br Marco Tasca OFM Conv appointed Metropolitan Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Genoa (Italy)

Letter of the Minister General, Br Michael A. Perry, in the name of the General Definitory and the Friars of the Order, to Br Marco Tasca OFM Conv., former Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual, appointed by the Holy Father Metropolitan Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Genoa (Italy):

Dear Br Marco,

May the Lord give you peace!

In the name of the General Definitory and of the whole Order of Friars Minor, I give thanks to the Most High, Almighty, Good Lord that the Holy Father, Pope Francis, chose you, dear Brother Marco, to serve Holy Mother Church as Bishop in the Archdiocese of Genoa, successor of the Apostles, witness of the Risen Lord and servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the hope of the world.

On this happy occasion, I wish to express to you personally, dear Brother Marco, my deepest gratitude for the precious gift of your friendship and collaboration which, in seeking to do God’s will, we shared during the time of your Generalate. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your gracious and far-sighted fraternal approach that you made me a part of, and that enabled us to work as true brothers for the good of the Order and the Church.

I assure you of my remembrance in prayer to the God of Mercies that your episcopal ministry will be fruitful and rich in graces for you, for the Franciscan Family, and for the People of God who are now entrusted to you.

May the Good Lord bless you and give you joyful fidelity, renewed every day by the voice of the Holy Spirit.

Fraternally,

Br Michael A. Perry, OFM
Minister General

See original in Italian: PDF

Friars in India: “Thank you for helping us help others”

“We thank the friars for their readiness to go out and reach out to the needy. How? By offering food! That’s the basic need at this time. There are thousands of people who live from hand to mouth, on a daily basis. With the deprivation of jobs, there are many who have lost their livelihood! And COVID-19 has done this to millions.”

With these words, Br. Praveen Henry D’Souza, Provincial Minister of the Province of St. Thomas the Apostle, India, illustrated how it is the poor who suffer most during this global pandemic. Br. Praveen was giving a presentation of the friars’ activities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic — this is his way of thanking the benefactors who have helped the friars help others.

Since the lockdown, the Province of India has been engaged in a wide variety of activities, including:

  • The Anthony’s Bread Centre has made food parcels available to families and individuals, helping an average of 700 people daily.
  • The local parish in Dindigulhas distributed sacks of rice and other relief supplies to daily labourers, blind people,and marginalised
  • The Franciscan NGO,Nesakkaram SEEDS, went to the slums of Chennai to distribute provisions and vegetables to poor families, and especially to the migrant families who have been left without They assisted over 1,000 families in a week.
  • The friars and people of Francis Friary in Kochi got a loan of 11 sewing machines from homes and convents and have made and distributed more than 6,500 masks for hospitals, police, drivers, migrant workers, fishermen, those who live by scavenging, and the poor.
  • With the support of benefactors, the friars have also helped leper colonies, remote tribal villages, nomad communities, and many other vulnerable members of Indian society.

 

Br. Praveen ends his message of thanks to the “many people who have come forward to help us to help others. There are many out there who want to reach out but have no idea how. To them I can still say: the friars will do this on your behalf! We are just a call (or click) away. The small presentation (PDF) here will give you an idea of number of people that we have reached and the growing need that will be a challenge to meet. But I know that the Lord will send his angels and messengers to meet these needs!

As unemployment grows, Sao Paulo Friars serve up to 4,000 meals daily

Catholic News Service interviewed our friars in Sao Paulo, Brazil about their new food distribution center dubbed “The Franciscan Tent” as a response to the growing number of people seeking food due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Hunger came before the fever (a main COVID-19 symptom),” Franciscan Brother Jose Francisco de Cassia dos Santos told Catholic News Service.

Santos, who heads the Franciscan Solidarity Service, has been distributing meals to the homeless in the center of Sao Paulo for more than 13 years. The traditional solidarity service, dubbed the Priest’s Tea, usually drew a few hundred homeless people, who congregated the St. Francis rectory. Now, said Santos, the majority of people in line waiting for the Priest’s Tea are those who lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Santos said since March 24, when the city installed stay-at-home measures to combat the new coronavirus, the number of people seeking food more than quadrupled, forcing his team to set up another distribution center to feed the population: The Franciscan Tent.

 

Read the complete story at cruxnow.com

 

Jerusalem, the three religions together again against the Coronavirus

After the meeting organized a few weeks ago by the municipality of Jerusalem, the religious leaders of the Holy City found themselves praying together again. At the King David Hotel, in the west of Jerusalem, the chiefs of rabbis of Israel arrive – Sephardic Yitzhak Yosef and Ashkenazite David Lau. They are the ones who compose the prayer asking for the end of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Rabbi DAVID ROSEN
Director Department of International Interfaith Affairs of the AJC
“This tragedy is also an opportunity. It allows us to understand what is really important in life, and for the religious community, it is also an important opportunity to come together, to express the faith we share in the one creator and leader of the world. Very often the Almighty uses – if we say so – threats and dangers to get people to do what is good and necessary, and perhaps this is an example of this.”

Psalm 121 ends the interreligious prayer, although the languages in which each one recites it are different. Side by side – but always keeping a safe distance of two meters – the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the Orthodox Patriarch, His Beatitude Theophilus III, the spiritual guide of the Druze Mowafaq Tarif, and the two Muslim imams Gamal el Ubra and Agel Al-Atrash.

HE Mgr PIERBATTISTA PIZZABALLA, OFM
Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
“This virus knows no boundaries of politics, races and religions, and has managed to do something very rare, especially here in Jerusalem: to make believers of different faiths – Christian Jews, Muslims and Druze – pray the same prayer together. We hope that we can continue in this direction, not only to fight the virus but to be more united among ourselves.”

In a few weeks in Jerusalem, the main feasts of the year were concentrated for all three religions: the Jewish Easter, the Christian Easter, the beginning of the month of Ramadan.

To unite the faithful of the one God, there was also the commitment to adapt their traditions and liturgies to the restrictions to prevent the contagion.

Rabbi DAVID ROSEN
Director Department of International Interfaith Affairs of the AJC
“I don’t think I’ve ever faced a situation like this before. Much of our liturgical life is common, designed to be together, but we had to find a way to do it without being physically close to each other. We started using a lot of applications like Whatsapp or Zoom. Which are very important but, nevertheless, very often when we develop certain technologies they tend to take control of us. These are some of the dangers we will have to take into account in the post-pandemic era, including how we educate and guide our communities.”

Source: cmc-terrasanta.org

Franciscans International: Statement on the human rights impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

As we, the entire staff of Franciscans International, are confined but healthy in our respective homes in Switzerland, the USA, and France, we are made more aware every day of our privileged situation, despite the unusual and uneasy circumstances in which confinement is putting us.

In the first weeks of this crisis, we were carefully observing not only the development of the situation but also the reaction of the United Nations (UN), other human rights experts, and States. We continue to do so. However, as it has become clear that the epidemic has definitively turned into a pandemic with a terrible death toll and that extraordinary measures will last for months, our Franciscan Sisters and Brothers, colleagues, and friends from various parts of the world are reaching out to share with us the dire situations they are experiencing, confronted with, and witnessing. It is to relay some of these testimonies and stories and to put them in a more global picture that we issue this statement today. From a human rights perspective, the issues raised by the pandemic are manifold and the impacts numerous at various levels.

From the failure of States to take the necessary measures to prevent such situations…

The last months have shown how some States have failed to take timely and necessary measures to protect the health of their populations, thus failing to comply with their international human rights obligations to protect the right to health. According to the UN,1 this protection shall include prevention, treatment and control of diseases that requires, among others “the creation of a system of urgent medical care in cases of (…) epidemics and similar health hazards, and the provision of disaster relief and humanitarian assistance in emergency situations.” Moreover, under international human rights law, the right to life also imposes a duty on States to protect life by taking adequate measures to ensure timely access to essential goods and services such as food and water, and to provide effective emergency health services or shelters.

Download and read the full statement of Franciscans International:

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Message for the Month of Ramadan 2020

To our Muslim brothers and sisters throughout the world:

As-salaamu ‘alaykum! Peace be with you!

On behalf of the Special Commission for Dialogue with Islam of the Order of Friars Minor, it gives me great pleasure once again to extend our greetings to you as you celebrate of the holy month of Ramadan.

This year our letter comes to you at a time when together we are experiencing great sadness and struggle in the world as we remember the many people of all faiths who have succumbed to the COVID-19 virus over the past few months, and the many more who are suffering illness even now. We pray with you for those who have died – may Allah have mercy on them – for those who mourn their passing, and for the health and wellbeing of all people.

In addition to claiming the lives of so many and disrupting our daily lives of work and study, and caring for our families, it has also dramatically affected the way we pray and worship. Around the world, holy places are empty. In Jerusalem, the synagogues, churches and mosques – in which Allah’s name is so often invoked (al-Ḥajj 22.40) stand silent. At the Two Holy Sanctuaries of Mecca and Medina, the adhān calls only local residents to prayer instead of believers from around the world. In Rome, St. Peter’s Square and Basilica remain closed to Catholic pilgrims and the Christian faithful. In cities, towns and villages around the world, people of faith are unable to pray as a community in their houses of worship due to social distancing and lockdowns, enforced by governments and religious leaders to prevent the spread of the virus.

This situation is made even more difficult because holy days and this holy month must be observed behind closed doors, contrary to the spirit of these celebrations. The Christian community worldwide celebrated Holy Week and Easter without the richly symbolic liturgies to which so many look forward, without the communal observances that remind us how to walk in the way of the Messiah Jesus (upon him be peace!).

Now you are observing the month of Ramadan in a similarly simple and stark fashion. It is, in many ways, the antithesis of Ramadan which traditionally draws people together in great numbers to break the daily fast with iftar. I am again reminded of celebrating Ramadan in Cairo, Egypt many years ago when entire city blocks were set with tables to feed the faithful, and of visiting the homes of friends, one after the other, throughout the night. This year, such practices are impossible and forbidden out of concern for public health.

We in the Franciscan family, friars and sisters, who have celebrated such times with you and with Muslim communities throughout the world, will also feel the void this year. Sharing iftar with you in your homes and mosques has allowed us to come to know you, not only as neighbors and as partners in peace-building, but as brothers and sisters, as the children of Ibrahim (upon him be peace!). These experiences have enriched our lives of faith and prayer.

Even as we are physically separated from our respective religious communities and from one another, we must encourage one another to spend this time in frequent and deep prayer, remembering our God who calls each one of us into relationship with Him through prayer, for this is at the essence of our religious observances. I am reminded of the Christian tradition that Jesus (upon him be peace!) spent forty days alone in the desert before he began to publicly proclaim the Gospel. Likewise, we know that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him!), used to wander alone in the mountains and caves outside Mecca, and that he received his first revelation from God on one such occasion. Holy men and women, Christian and Muslim, have throughout the ages, withdrawn into solitude to be alone with God that they might hear the Word of God more clearly.

During these sacred times, Allah also calls us into relationship with one another. Both the Holy Bible and the Glorious Qur’an tell us that these relationships must be expressed with righteous deeds, particularly in care of the poor and hungry. Although physically distant from one another now, we can nevertheless remain united with one another in a spirit of peace, justice, and love, caring for one another in a world that often seems careless and even cruel. Even in the midst of this pandemic, we remain painfully aware of the hardships that Muslims and Christians suffer in many parts of the globe simply because they are Muslim or Christian. The pandemic has only exacerbated these woes in countries where Muslims and Christians are minorities suffering discrimination and persecution.

During this Easter season and the month of Ramadan, let us be united in our faith in God who does not abandon us to darkness and death, but who sends to us His holy prophets and reveals to us His Holy Scriptures to illumine our hearts and minds, and assure us that He will bring life from death. Our respective celebrations of Easter and Ramadan both use the symbol of light to express this faith. The fire and candle used at the Easter Vigil and the lantern of Ramadan (Arabic, fanous) remind us of the light of faith and hope in the midst of the darkness.

We wish you a most blessed Ramadan. Ramadan Mubarak! Ramadan Kareem!

 

Br. Michael D. Calabria, OFM,
Special Assistant for Dialog with Islam

 

Members of the Commission for Dialog with Islam:

Br. Manuel Corullón, OFM
Br. Ferdinand Mercado, OFM
Br. Jamil Albert, OFM

 

 

Pope Francis’ Special Catechesis for the 50th Earth Day

On 22 April 2020, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, delivered a special catechesis on the occasion of the fiftieth Earth Day, on the fifth anniversary of his Encyclical Letter Laudato si’, on the care of the common home (Gen 2: 8-9, 15):

 

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today we celebrate the fiftieth Earth Day.  This is an occasion for renewing our commitment to love and care for our common home and for the weaker members of our human family.  As the tragic coronavirus pandemic has taught us, we can overcome global challenges only by showing solidarity with one another and embracing the most vulnerable in our midst.  The Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ deals precisely with this “Care for our Common Home”.  Today, let us reflect together  a little on that responsibility which characterises “our earthly sojourn” (Laudato Si’, 160). We must grow in our awareness of care for our common home.

We are fashioned from the earth, and fruit of the earth sustains our life.  But, as the book of Genesis reminds us, we are not simply “earthly”; we also bear within us the breath of life that comes from God (cf. Gen 2:4-7).  Thus we live in this common home as one human family in biodiversity with God’s other creatures.  As imago Dei, image of God, we are called to have care and respect for all creatures, and to offer love and compassion to our brothers and sisters, especially the most vulnerable among us, in imitation of God’s love for us, manifested in his Son Jesus, who made Himself man to share this situation with us and to save us.

Because of our selfishness we have failed in our responsibility to be guardians and stewards of the earth.  “We need only take a frank look at the facts to see that our common home is falling into serious disrepair” (ibid., 61).  We have polluted and we have despoiled it, endangering our very lives.  For this reason, various international and local movements have sprung up in order to appeal to our consciences.  I deeply appreciate these initiatives; still it will be necessary for our children to take to the streets to teach us the obvious: we have no future if we destroy the very environment that sustains us.

We have failed to care for the earth, our garden-home; we have failed to care for our brothers and sisters.  We have sinned against the earth, against our neighbours, and ultimately against the Creator, the benevolent Father who provides for everyone, and desires us to live in communion and flourish together. And how does the earth react? There is a Spanish saying that is very clear, in this; it says: “God forgives always; we men forgive sometimes; the earth never forgives”. The earth never forgives: if we have despoiled the earth, the response will be very bad.

How can we restore a harmonious relationship with the earth and with the rest of humanity?   A harmonious relationship… Very often we lose our view of harmony: harmony is the work of the Holy Spirit. In the common home, on earth, too; also in our relationship with people, with our neighbour, with the poor, how can we restore this harmony? We need a new way of looking at our common home.  Let us be clear: it is not a storehouse of resources for us to exploit.  For us believers, the natural world is the “Gospel of Creation”: it expresses God’s creative power in fashioning human life and bringing the world and all it contains into existence, in order to sustain humanity.  As the biblical account of creation concludes: “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Gen 1:31). We we see these natural tragedies that are the earth’s response to our mistreatment, I think: “If I ask the Lord now what He thinks, I don’t think He will tell me something very good”. We are the ones who have ruined the work of the Lord!

In today’s celebration of Earth Day, we are called to renew our sense of sacred respect for the earth, for it is not just our home but also God’s home.  This should make us all the more aware that we stand on holy ground!

Dear brothers and sisters, “let us awaken our God-given aesthetic and contemplative sense” (Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Querida Amazonia, 56).  The prophetic gift of contemplation is something that we can learn especially from indigenous peoples.  They teach us that we cannot heal the earth unless we love and respect it. They have that wisdom of “living well”, not in the sense of having a good time, no, but of living in harmony with the earth. They call this harmony “good living”.

At the same time, we need an ecological conversion that can find expression in concrete actions.  As a single and interdependent family, we require a common plan in order to avert the threats to our common home.  “Interdependence obliges us to think of one world with a common plan” (Laudato Si’, 164).  We are aware of the importance of cooperation as an international community for the protection of our common home.  I urge those in positions of leadership to guide the preparations for two important international Conferences: COP15 on Biodiversity in Kunming, China, and COP26 on Climate Change in Glasgow, United Kingdom. These two meetings are very important.

I would like to support concerted action also on the national and local levels.  It will help if people at all levels of society come together to create a popular movement “from below”.  The Earth Day we are celebrating today was itself born in precisely this way.  We can each contribute in our own small way.  “We need not think that these efforts are going to change the world.  They benefit society, often unbeknown to us, for they call forth a goodness which, albeit unseen, inevitably tends to spread” (Laudato Si’, 212).

In this Easter season of renewal, let us pledge to love and esteem the beautiful gift of the earth, our common home, and to care for all members of our human family.  Like the brothers and sisters that we are, let us together implore our heavenly Father: “Send forth your Spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth” (cf. Ps 104:30).

Artwork: Christopher Villanueva OFM, “Laudato si’/Purihin Ka”

Protect Migrants and Refugees during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Slowing the spread of COVID-19 requires that everyone be included in prevention and protection strategies, especially the most vulnerable, including migrants and refugees. This pandemic is a public health crisis that brings home how interconnected we are. It is our collective responsibility to act rapidly and in solidarity.

As grassroots and faith-based organizations and religious leaders from across Central America, Mexico and the United States working to address the root causes of poverty, violence and corruption that force people to leave their homes, we offer this framework for action to protect migrants and refugees and help all of our communities survive this crisis and rebuild with justice and equity.

  1. We demand the rapid, safe and orderly release of as many migrants and asylum seekers from detention as possible
    • Identify and prioritize the immediate release of those at risk due to underlying medical conditions or age.
    • No migrant should be detained in a facility that is unable to follow required COVID-19 prevention steps.
    • Those managing detention centers must identify, protect and refer those suspected of being ill to specialized health care services…

 

Read the complete text on redfranciscana.org: EnglishEspañol

Koinonia 2020 – 1 (N.105): The OFS Rule as a response in times of great changes

The OFS Rule as a Response in Times of Great Changes

 

Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the preacher of the pontifical house says in one of his reflections that if, by some miracle the whole Bible were to be concentrated to pronounce one word, all it would say will be “God-loves-you!”[1]. Sacred Scripture is all about the love of God. Jesus Christ, by his incarnation, life, passion, death and resurrection, is the supreme prove and eternal covenant of this love. The Church is founded to be a means and instrument, “some sort of sacrament”[2] to tell the world of this love until the end of time. In this light, evangelization is telling the world of God’s love made known to us in Christ Jesus. However, how can this be done in language intelligible to each generation[3]? This is the challenge of inculturation. It is the challenge of up-dating, “aggiornamento” which the universal Church decided to take up with faith and courage from Vatican II. As times and cultures change, so too should we update and adapt our language and methods to ensure effective evangelization.

We are happy that the “Franciscan charism” today is still a force for the good of the Church and the human community, despite the infiltration of doctrines and tendencies that alienate people from God and from the supernatural”, affirms Pope St. Paul VI[4].  In all four numbers of Koinonia for this year 2020, we have chosen the main theme above: “Secular Franciscans in times of great changes”. In this first number, Fr. Francis Bongajum Dor, OFMCap. reflects on “The OFS Rule as a response in times of great changes”. In the subsequent numbers, we will reflect on, “The Secular Franciscan and the immigrant” (Fr. Pedro Zitha, OFM); “Integral ecology: the response of Secular Franciscan” (Fr. Claudio Hernán, TOR); and, finally, “Franciscan Economy for Seculars” (Fr. Alfred Parambakathu, OFMConv.).

 

  • Koinonia 2020-1“The OFS Rule as a Response in Times of Great Changes”– Fr. Francis Bongajum Dor, OFMCap

N. 105

PDF: EnglishItalianoEspañolFrançais

DOC : EnglishItalianoEspañolFrançais

 

[1]Cf. R. Cantalamessa, Rifulge il mistero della croce – meditazioni per ogni giorno della quaresima, Ancora, Milano 2014.

[2]Vatican II, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the modern world, Gaudium et spes 1.

[3] Vatican II, Gaudium et spes, N° 4.

[4]Pope Paul VI, Apostolic letter, Seraphicus Patriarca, 24 June 1978.

A Message of Hope from the Mayor of Assisi

Stefania Proietti, the mayor of Assisi (Italy) wrote the following Easter letter, a beautiful message of hope, to the residents of Assisi:

Today more than ever I feel the need to reach out to you as we share a time that we never expected to face. An invisible enemy has upset our lives, our thoughts of the future, our institutional, and our work activities. It has generated fear for us and our loved ones, and a general sense of total bewilderment. Even in concern, we must try to see this great test with a prophetic gaze: in these Easter days we would have had shrines, streets, squares, structures overflowing with people; instead we find ourselves in an empty Assisi that appears surreal to us in its great beauty almost empty of life.

We think first of all of our fellow citizens who are experiencing COVID-19 in their lives and dearest relatives, recognizing in them all those who, in Italy and in the world, are suffering directly from this pandemic. The good news, in this different Easter, is that today we have six people recovered from only 30 positive cases since the beginning of this emergency. Good news, which I hope will calm your hearts and instill hope in all of you.

Let’s start now, together, soberly, humbly, to think about the future. May we start from the love of St. Francis, who, stripping himself of everything, has become a giant of the Church and of universal spirituality, and has made our city great, over centuries, in history and in the collective imagination. Now more than ever Assisi, the city of the patron saint of Italy, will be an emblem of hope and rebirth for the world: in the authenticity of the Franciscan message we can find the strength of real life through solidarity and the preferential option for the poor and needy.

Let us place ourselves at the service of a city that must find the strength to be reborn as a “rising sun” for all of Italy. Because Assisi, as soon as possible, will start first and with the strength that comes from being the city of St. Francis, city-message for the entire human family, chosen by Pope Francis also to change the global economy, which now is showing all of its fragility. In the health, economic and social emergency, the whole administration and I as mayor, ask you to be protagonists of our future: only together, in solidarity. Only together, in solidarity and social cohesion, making ourselves a single family, as a united and supportive community, will we overcome this challenge and be reborn stronger than ever.

 

Source: franciscanmedia.org

A Buried Treasure Revealed: The Book of the Conformity of the Life of Saint Francis to the Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Buried from the ordinary reader for 600 years, and available only to scholars, this hugely important work is now available for the first time in a modern language!

 

Two decades ago, we saw the appearance of “Francis of Assisi: Early Documents,” a three-volume collection of Francis’s own writings and all the medieval hagiographical sources on him down to the mid-14th century. Now, this series will be continued with the publication of a massive work, “The Book of the Conformity of the Life of Saint Francis to the Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ,” written by Friar Bartholomew of Pisa between 1385-1390.

The Book of the Conformity (often called The Conformities) represents the high­est point of medieval glorification of the figure of St. Francis. It contains a nearly complete record of the saint’s own writings, and a vast store of material from all the known hagiographical legends of the saint from the 13th through late 14th centuries. In addition, it has extensive lists of the places where Franciscan friars, Poor Clare nuns and Franciscan tertiaries lived and ministered, with personal details about many Franciscan personages, both famous and obscure.

The author, Bartholomew of Pisa, divided his large work into what he calls 3 “Books”. Part 1 concerns the Incarnation, the Nativity and the early life of Jesus, with corresponding similarities to be found in the early years of Francis’s life. Part 2 concerns the years of the public ministry of Jesus, his preaching and healing, calling of disciples, travels from one place to another, with similar events in the life of Francis. Part 3 concerns the Passion, Death, Resurrection and Ascension/Glorification of Christ, and the events of Francis’s last days, his illnesses and suffering, his receiving of the stigmata, his death, canonization, and the miracles attributed to him as a heavenly intercessor.

For six centuries this text, so vital to the Christian communities that had been touched by the life of Saint Francis, has never been published into a modern language. This landmark translation brings The Book of Conformity to today’s reader.

More information:

 

 

Do not be afraid; darkness has not conquered the light! | Easter Letter of the Minister General 2020

Do not be afraid; darkness has not conquered the light!

[Cf. Mt 28:5; Jn 1:5]

 

Easter Letter of the Minister General 2020

 

Dearest brothers and sisters,

May the Living Christ give you peace!

This year, the celebration of Easter will have as a backdrop a world traumatised by the spread of the new Coronavirus. Hundreds of thousands of people are infected; tens of thousands are dead; many more will be victims before an effective vaccine can be developed. We cannot even begin to talk about the impact of this virus on local, regional and global economic life. Unemployment is rising rapidly; families already have to make clear decisions about which meals they can afford to eat and which they have to give up. And as if that were not enough, the virus is now spreading to countries in Africa and Asia where much of the health infrastructure is not sufficiently equipped to receive those who will fall seriously ill.

On this journey, the Risen Christ comes close to each one of us, enlightening us with his Word and rekindling in our hearts the fire of first love: “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” (Lk 24:32). This text on the Resurrection serves as a compelling call to love, mercy and the closeness of our God in all moments of life, especially when human life itself is threatened. It is precisely at these times that the Lord Jesus does for us what he did for the two followers who were walking towards Emmaus with broken hearts, confused minds and shattered hopes. What they had witnessed in Jerusalem was too overwhelming to accept.

Without being recognised, Jesus reaches out to them on their journey, asking them to talk about what was worrying them. “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” (Lk 24:17). This question is more than just a request for information on current events. Jesus opens up a way of listening, thus allowing the two followers to focus on what really worried them: the darkness and despair that the horrible events of the crucifixion had brought into their lives. “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” (v. 18). The question posed by these two men touches the most profound sense of human solidarity, in addition to what could be said from a biblical and exegetical point of view. Not knowing can sometimes be equated with not wanting to know. Pope Francis calls it a culture of indifference. When one knows the truth about something, one is obliged to act in a very different way, to commit oneself to do what is necessary and right to respond to emerging needs and live a consistent life. This is the nature of conversion: it calls us to wake up and put order in our lives. It requires that we connect our lives with God’s story, and an essential part of this story is his permanent initiative to draw us to him, to save us, and to lead us on the path to the fullness of life.

Perhaps encouraged by this particular fellow traveller, those two men continued to explain what had happened in Jerusalem. They recounted how Jesus of Nazareth was going to lead them out of their mediocrity, their lack of clarity about who God is and what He means to those who seek Him with an open and humble heart. He would free them from slave-like dependence in which they lived because of the (foreign) Roman occupation, and the collaboration of those who cared only for their own personal interests. “How our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him” (Lk 24:20).

Even in the darkest moments of human despair, when it seemed that there was no longer any reason for hope, the men who made their way to Emmaus recognised a glimmer of light. They had a motive not to give in, not to allow their despair to consume them and to destroy the dream offered to them by the “prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people” (Lk 24:19). But they could not stop there. They wanted to convey something else to their mysterious companion on the journey: “Some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive” (Lk 24:22-23). “That he was alive!” It is difficult to extinguish human hope and love, even in the face of overwhelming circumstances. Even in despair, the two disciples still kept the possibility open that God could do something new, that God had not abandoned them.

In the celebration of the Easter Vigil, there is another text that is very closely linked to this sense of fidelity and hope that God brings to humanity in the person of His beloved Son Jesus. The Gospel of Matthew portrays the figure of Mary Magdalene and another woman called Mary, who go to the tomb to mourn the death of the one they believed to be the promised Messiah. The earth trembled, the stone that blocked the entrance to the tomb was rolled away, and an angel appeared and spoke to the two women: “Do not be afraid… He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said” (cf. Mt28:5). It is clear from the text that the angel’s words cause joy but also confusion in their hearts. Yet they leave “in haste”, running towards Jerusalem to deliver the message they have received to a hidden and frightened community. Just as happened to the disciples on the road to Emmaus, Jesus himself meets the two women, greets them, allowing them to come closer and embrace his feet. Jesus says to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” (28:10).

Many situations regularly highlight our fears because they confront us with unknown or uncertain circumstances. Returning to my opening theme, the coronavirus epidemic has aroused worry, anxiety and a sense of absolute helplessness in all of us. The images of the sick dying alone, because they cannot have any contact with their families, have shocked us. This Easter the biblical texts of the resurrection invite us to confront the harsh reality of the threat to human life: the life of Jesus taken in a vicious act of violence; the life of humanity now facing a virus capable of killing and harming millions of people on this small planet. We know that the virus is not the only threat humanity is facing, but it is now the most urgent. All the more reason to listen once again to the message of the angel and Jesus, who come to give us comfort at this difficult time for the whole human community.

Do not be afraid! Yes, truly the Risen Christ “makes all things new” (Rev 21:5) and therefore wants to renew our lives and the way we face any kind of threat. He, as Saint Bonaventure affirms, “having defeated the author of death, teaches us the ways of life” (The Tree of Life 34). He urges us to leave the tomb of our fears, of our prejudices, of our mediocrity; to transcend those situations that prevent us from living our vocation to the full, that is, to be resurrected, to be new men and women. I am reminded of the words of Pope Francis who exhorted us at the last General Chapter to “restore mutual trust so the world may see and believe, recognising that Jesus’ love heals wounds and renders all as one”. An appeal to strengthen our trust in the strength that flows from Easter.

The encounter with the Risen Christ, who frees us from the fears that paralyse us, urges us to go beyond ourselves, beyond our security and comfort, the sense of “it has always been so”. We are challenged to take the path of the Gospel, which is always new because it is “the Word of eternal life” (Jn 6:68). The encounter with the Risen One becomes mission and proclamation of new life. “Those who have encountered him, those who live as his friends and identify with his message, must inevitably speak of him and bring others his offer of new life: Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!” (Querida Amazonia 62).

So what should we proclaim? We must never tire of proclaiming with our voices and witnessing with our lives that Jesus Christ is alive and that with his Resurrection, he has conquered death. We must declare that death, hatred and fear do not have the last word, but the life of the Risen One is the definitive word on the story of humanity and our personal stories. We must cry out that “darkness has not conquered the light” (Jn 1:5), but it is the light of Easter that flickers over every night and radiates the beginning of the day without a sunset. God will never abandon those he created and destined for life, love and hope! The world, the Church and our fraternities need to hear this message: we are the bearers of these glad tidings, so we generously offer to all the good news that springs from Easter!

A happy and holy Easter to all!

 

Rome, 5 April 2020
Palm Sunday

Br. Michael A. Perry OFM
Minister General and Servant

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[Deutsch] Fürchtet euch nicht; die Finsternis hat das Licht nicht erfasst!
[English] Do not be afraid; darkness has not conquered the light!
[Español] ¡No temáis, las tinieblas no vencieron la luz!
[Français] N’ayez pas peur, les ténèbres n’ont pas vaincu la lumière!
[Hrvatski] Ne bojte se, tmina nije pobijedila svjetlo!
[Italiano] Non abbiate paura, le tenebre non hanno vinto la luce!
[Polski]Nie bójcie się, ciemność nie ogarnęła światłości!
[Português] Não tenhais medo, as trevas não venceram a luz!

 

Artwork: Luca Giordano, Resurrection. Oil on canvas, 114 x 116 cm. Residenzgalerie Salzburg, Inv.-No. 285. Photo: Fotostudio Ulrich Ghezzi, Oberalm. © 2020 RGS/Ghezzi.

Why ask Saint Camilla Battista of Varano for help in time of pandemic?

From a conversation with Mother Chiara Laura Serboli and the other Poor Clares of Camerino on the story of Saint Camilla Battista da Varano, martyr of the plague epidemic of the sixteenth century, published in L’Osservatore Romano of 2 April 2020:

Historically during epidemics, various “special” saints were invoked: St Rita, St Roch, St Anthony the Abbot, St Christopher and St Sebastian, whose stories are somehow linked to illness or miraculous healings. These invocations underline a universal fact, that goes beyond the saint to whom they are addressed: trust in the power of prayer and the awareness that the saints are our friends. In our prayer of intercession, we have turned to Saint Camilla Battista Varano, whose body is kept in our monastery, because we feel she is our “special” friend and it is normal that in times of need we ask our friends for help. We do this also because St Camilla Baptist not only experienced something similar to what we are now going through, but she was also a victim of it, dying of the plague on 31 May 1524. She died “alone on the bed of the cross”, infected by the disease, and was buried in quicklime to avoid further contagion. Her farewell took place in the open because of the ban on gatherings. She certainly knows what those who have contracted the virus are going through, facing it in the solitude of a hospital. She knows the pain of family members and of each of us. That is why we are certain that she intercedes for peace and health for everyone. She promised, “From Heaven, I will never forget you”. When the city walls of Camerino were renovated at the end of the fourteenth century, Duke Giovanni Spaccaferro wanted a religious community to be placed at each entrance gate. As well as an armed garrison to protect against physical enemies, he also wanted a religious community to guard against spiritual or invisible enemies, like the plague, creating a sort of spiritual enclosure. Taking up this tradition, relying on the intercession of Camilla Battista, our prayer today rises with confidence and perseverance from the city of Camerino, for the protection of the people of our time. Our city, in addition to still recovering from the earthquake emergency, is also on the front line of the covid-19 crisis, as a hospital reception point for all those infected in our territory.

Silvia Guidi

Full text (in Italian): www.vaticannews.va

Visit the website of the Poor Sisters of S. Chiara di Camerino www.clarissecamerino.it

 

 

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