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The Pardon of Assisi 2017

This year’s anniversary was particularly solemn; given it was the closure of the 800th Anniversary of the Pardon of Assisi. This jubilee was inaugurated on August 2, 2016, by Gualtiero Cardinal BASSETTI and was enhanced by Pope Francis’ private pilgrimage to the Porziuncola two days later, on August 4, 2016. The solemn closing celebration for the Jubilee of Pardon took place at 11:00 a.m. on August 2, 2017, and was presided over by His Eminence Pietro Cardinal PAROLIN, His Holiness’ Secretary of State.

Another peculiarity of this year, highlighting the bonds between the Franciscan Family, was a feast created by the ingenious intuition of our common founder, Francis of Assisi. This was the Triduum of Preparation (July 29-31) which was preached by the Ministers General of the three Franciscan Orders. (The Friars Minor Capuchin were represented by their Vicar General.) This shared event was placed in perfect continuity along the path that had been undertaken up to that point. The path culminated with the “Generalissimo” Chapter that the Franciscan families celebrated together.

 

The program scheduled for August 1 was intensive:

  • At 11:00 a.m. there was Mass presided over by Friar Michael A. Perry, the Minister General of the Friars Minor. It was followed by the Procession of the “Opening of Forgiveness” (so-called because from that moment, i.e. from noon on August 1 until midnight on August 2, the Plenary Indulgence which is granted to the Porziuncola every day, was extended to all the parish churches around the world, and to all Franciscan churches;
  • In the afternoon, at the end of the pilgrimage of the Diocese of Assisi, there was Evening Prayer I, presided over by the Most Reverend Domenico SORRENTINO, Archbishop of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino, in Italy.
  • Incense was offered by the mayor of Assisi, Stefania PROIETTI;
  • There was an evening prayer vigil with a candlelight procession led by the Most Reverend José Rodríguez CARBALLO, OFM, Secretary of the Congregation of Institutes of Consecrated Life.

 

August 2 once again saw the arrival of thousands of young people from the 37th Franciscan March “One Step Beyond”. They met at the Porziuncola to rejoice in the Father’s Mercy. Finally, the Vatican Gendarmerie Band performed a concert in the evening followed by a fireworks show in the piazza of the Porziuncola.

 

From the Communication Offices of the OFM, OFM Conv., and OFM Cap.

 

 

RIP Pat Hudson, OFM

It is with great sadness that we inform you of the death of our brother, Pat Hudson. He departed this life on Sunday 30th July in Our Lady’s Hospice, Harold’s Cross, Dublin. He had been sick for some time.

His Removal will take place to Franciscan Church, Merchant’s Quay, Dublin at 7.00pm on Monday 31st July. The Funeral Mass will be celebrated on Tuesday morning at 10.30, followed by burial in the new Franciscan plot in Glasnevin. Pat had already ‘booked’ the first place in the new plot some time before his death!

A Dublin man, Pat was born in 1936 and joined the Order in 1960. After his ordination in 1968 he was a missionary in Latin America, and later in the Russia Federation, as well as periods of ministry in the Franciscan parish in Ballywaltrim in Bray, Co Wicklow and in the Order’s General Curia in Rome.

Pat was a giant of a man in more ways than one. He was peacefully resigned to his death, since hearing the news of his terminal condition, and prepared himself for his exodus from this life in his usual practical and non-sentimental way.

‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied.’

May Pat receive the reward of a long life devoted to promoting the justice of the Kingdom in so many ways and in so many places.

 

Feast of St. Clare 2017: Letter of the Minister General

 “But with swift pace and light step…..” (cf. 2LAg, 12)

 

Dear Sisters,

May the Lord give you peace!

The solemn feast of our Holy Mother St. Clare is an opportunity for us to reflect on contemporary issues that present a real challenge to our way of life and to our following of Jesus Christ the Lord. Ours are complex times; they demand a capacity to read events and to come up with new ways of faithfully living our charism, walking with the women and men of our time and speaking words of mercy and hope to them. Crises surround us, both at the level of society and of the individual — and we ourselves are not immune. These difficulties also touch our lives and our communities.

The Lord can teach us to see these crises as opportunities; together let’s listen to what the Scriptures and the witness of Clare of Assisi suggest to us.

We Friars Minor have chosen a theme for next year’s Plenary Council of the Order. There are three key concepts that will guide us: listening, discerning, and action. I believe that these words can also be meaningful for you, dear sisters. You too are called to face new challenges, to respond to demands that are unsettling and perplexing and, within this complex reality, to remain faithful to the Gospel thinking of Holy Mother Church.

 

Download the PDF:

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LISTENING

The Bible is full of calls to listen; the believing person knows how to listen, how to perceive the voice of the Lord, and then how to choose a positive response. The Acts of the Apostles speaks eloquently of various situations when the first Christian communities listened deeply. One example of this is the episode when Spirit would not allow the disciples to proclaim the Gospel in Asia, and a subsequent vision then exhorted them to leave for Macedonia (cf. Acts 16:6-10). The Word of God gives direction and the Spirit gives guidance; these are communicated through life events, through circumstances, and by means of the intuitions of the heart.

As her sisters tell us, Clare also knew how to live in a continuous attitude of listening. Listening to God in silence and in unceasing prayer; listening to the sisters with great care, knowing their sufferings and desperation “though the Spirit”, even when these needs were not openly expressed (Cf. PC 2,23); listening and sharing in the fears of her fellow-citizens when they were threatened by enemy attacks (Cf. PC 3,19)

Your listening must also be free and attentive, emerging from your silent relationship with God, as well as from your sharing with the sisters. This occurs when you gather around the Word of God and together face whatever is happening in your lives. Your listening should be alert, open, and unprejudiced; it should be active, wise, intelligent, and able to go beyond appearances; it should be empathetic, engaging, and enthusiastic. If we are to really hear what the Spirit is saying in the silence of ordinary life, we need to be secure in our identity and willing to be pilgrims directed by God’s promises which are daily renewed in us. Listening keeps us moving, and it is sometimes uncomfortable, moving us out of ourselves and our securities, asking us questions that require new answers.

 

DISCERNING

If the first step in understanding how to respond to our vocation and find direction on the journey is to listen to the voice of God in the complex realities of today, then what comes next is the whole area of discernment. The voice of God and the signs we that we perceive in the unfolding of history must be authentically interpreted, examined, and understood. Discernment is as necessary and urgent as it is delicate, and it is not by chance that Pope Francis continues to point to this process as an undertaking deserving of patience and perseverance.

Once again, the early Christian communities show us how to put into practice a Gospel approach which included debate, reading the Word and discussing it, prayer and a willingness to question, and the pursuit of the common good. The foundations for their process of discernment were an awareness of the gift of the Spirit and of His active grace, and their custom of gathering together to face challenges. They practiced clear and sincere communication, mutual trust, wise interpretation of reality, and careful listening to Scripture. This led to the assembly coming to decisions which resolved conflicts, promoted freedom and responsibility, and brought joy and encouragement to the sisters and brothers (Cf. Acts 15:1-35).

At many times during her life, Clare needed to exercise sensitive and decisive discernment. Just think of the frank and constructive exchange she had with Cardinal Ugolino, later Pope Gregory IX, regarding the originality of the way of life of the San Damiano community and its relationship to ecclesiastical institutions. What was involved was not just Clare’s personal conviction, but her awareness that it was essential to safeguard the gift of a vocation received from the Father of Mercy (Cf. TestCl, 2). Such an awareness was nourished by prayer — in a constant relationship with the Father, clinging to the poor Christ, and in union with the Holy Spirit. For Clare, prayer is not something closed; it expands when it is allowed to be permeated by the passion and the limitless charity of Christ. Because of this, she sees concrete reality as the place where God’s will can be known and done. The sisters’ needs, the frailties she experienced in herself and others, various trials and tensions, were seen by Clare not as obstacles, but as opportunities. In these, the charism of contemplation could be interwoven with that of charity, and thus together bring about discernment. The Rule (4:15-18) recalls the importance of the weekly Chapter, and of together seeking ways in which each sister’s vocation can be fully lived. Every step of the journey is seen in terms of concrete, daily reality.

Sisters, you too are called to discernment. Contemporary reality faces us with deeper and deeper questions about the meaning of life. Our times are times of speed, noise, and information that is instant and global. We live in a time when anthropological changes are occurring because of technologies and social media. In these circumstances, what significance has the silence and contemplation that is part of our lives? On the one hand, our world is characterized by fragmentation, sectoral divisions, and special interest groups, and on the other it is marked by a tendency towards uniformity and group think. Given that you are called to unity in diversity, both on a personal and community level, what can your life offer to such a world? What responses can we come up with, how can we dialogue in order to grow together, how can we ensure that the autonomy of the monastery does not become a protective wall, but instead is a resource to be offered in a process of common discernment?

I believe that these are questions that your communities can grapple with in a spirit of energy, conviction, and hope — trusting that we are being led by the Spirit.

 

ACTION

Listening, discerning, and lastly acting. This activity is undergirded by a profound and intelligent listening, and by a serious and open discernment. Thus, what will emerge will be life choices that are courageous and daring, full of the prophetic quality of Peter, James, and Paul who led the Church to open herself to newness, expanding in welcome to the pagans (Cf. Acts 15:1-35).

Our action should be free, and made fruitful by mercy — after the example of Clare who, as a woman and a Poor Sister, did not hesitate to ease her sister’s painful hip by laying her own body on it and by taking off her veil to give her sister warmth (Cf PC 7:12). Or when she longed to be martyred in Morocco, full of courage and a desire to go above and beyond in her self-giving (Cf. PC 6:6).

Let your activity be courageous too, sisters! Mindful of challenges, and with the alertness of those who open themselves to the future with hope, and who are faithful and secure in their vocation, have the courage to risk prophetic life choices. Sometimes changes in communities happen only because there is no other option. In circumstances where things cannot continue as they have been, decisions are made that may, or may not, be well considered or effective. I ask myself, and I ask you, if this must necessarily be the case. Would it not be possible instead to choose change, being motivated and arriving at change through a process of shared convictions and a search for goodness and life? Doing this with courage and trust, accepting the challenge, and ready to lose something so that your life can continue to flourish?

Many communities live with the reality of ageing and fragility, factors that raise questions about their future. Some find themselves in difficult situations and feel themselves called to a new form of sharing life with their brothers and sisters. Formation is challenged to address the issue of learning new ways and languages so as to sustain meaningful and positive dialogue with people of today; when young people come to us, they require attentive discernment and wise accompaniment. The structure itself of your way of life and that of your monasteries is called into question when the demands of autonomy become too great, and when the best way forward is communion. The call to life in its fullness continues to be given to us, and we can together respond to this call and entrust ourselves to God’s promises. It is wonderful to have the freedom to make conscious, shared choices which dare to move beyond established practices — to make decisions that open up new ways of promoting life, faithful to the Gospel and to the fundamentals of your identity: the poverty and fraternity that Clare and Francis have given us as our heritage.

 

I entrust the friars to your prayers; they too are on a journey of listening, discernment and action.

May the Father of Mercies bless every one of you and bless your communities. May Holy Mother Church accompany you on your way.

Happy Feast Day!

 

 

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

 

Rome, August 2nd, 2017
Feast of the Portiuncula

 

Prot. 107747

A New Guardian at St. Isidore’s, Rome

Br. Hugh McKenna OFM, is the new Guardian at St. Isidore’s, Rome, home to the Collegium Sancti Bonaventurae, and to a fraternity which also includes Irish friars in Post-Novitiate Formation. The friars in Formation arrive in September, continuing a tradition of Irish Franciscan Formation at St. Isidore’s which dates to its foundation by the illustrious Luke Wadding OFM in 1625.

Br. Hugh was Minister Provincial of the Province of Ireland and President of the OFM English-Speaking Conference until the beginning of July. He succeeds Br. Mícheál MacCraith, also of the Province of Ireland, who returns to Ireland after 6 years of generous, fraternal, and productive service as Guardian. We wish Brs. Hugh and Micheál every blessing in their respective ministries.

 

First Meeting of Franciscan 1st Order Branches in Germany

65 members of all three Franciscan Orders – Friars Minor, Conventuals, and Capuchins – gathered in Hofheim for a Chapter of Mats from June 12th to 14th last. The topic was “500 years of Reformation”, and the gathering examined the causes which led to division in the Church and within the Order. Pope Leo X (in his Papal Bull “Ite vos”) divided the Franciscan Order into two branches — Friars Minor and Conventual Friars Minor — in 1517. In the same year, Martin Luther published his theses in Wittenberg.

The program included papers on the history of the Order and a survey of the current activities and health of the Provinces. In addition, the participants used the technique of imagining a Papal Bull written by a future fictional Pope Francis III which would solemnise the union/federation/fusion of the three branches in 2030. A workshop on prospects for the future generated ideas and practical projects which the friars will soon begin to work on.

To round up the meeting, all the friars visited the Paulskirche in Frankfurt which was built on the former grounds of the Franciscan friary. This was the major Protestant church for several centuries, and it is there that the German democratic movement began in 1841. From there the friars went to the existing central Protestant church, the Katharinenkirche, for an Ecumenical Midday Prayer. The visit ended with an exchange of blessings and missioning in the Liebfrauenkirche, where the Frankfurt Capuchins live, work and pray.

The Minister General visits the refuge-house for migrants “The 72”

As part of his visit to the friars of the Province of San Felipe de Jesús in Mexico, the Minister General, Fr. Michael A. Perry also called at “The 72”, a refuge house for migrants.

The name, “The 72” refers to the number of persons at the Central American centre who were massacred in the Mexican State of Tamaulipas in the month of August 2010. In the main room of the house you can see on the red wall a painting of a large cross of San Damiano and in the centre another painting of a well which represents the migrants who were killed. On the same wall hang 72 small cross, some of which have the names of the victims of the massacre.

The house is located in the town of Tenosique, in the Mexican State of Tabasco, just a few kilometres from the frontier with Guatemala. Whilst the Minister General was there, there were around one hundred and fifty migrants and a little more than twenty volunteers of eight different nationalities, amongst whom were three sisters of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary. In this place the migrants can “ not only find bread and mattresses on which to sleep, but also the embrace of solidarity and a blessing for the woman who give birth and where the dream of a better life begins to be realized” (2016 Report). From its foundation in 2011 the 72 has given refuge to more than seventy thousand persons.

The 72 is not only for the migrants who come here with the aim of reaching the United States. There are also kidnap victims, victims of group violence, sexual violence and death threats crimes which they have occurred not only in Central America but in Mexico itself. They are welcomed here as a refuge from their suffering. They all receive humanitarian assistance and given a place to sleep, food to eat and medical and psychological assistance as well as legal advice.

Fr. Michael greeted the migrants who were present and spoke with the managers and other volunteers, led by Fr. Tomás González, founder and leader of the project. He was also able to listen to some of the painful experiences that the migrants had suffered. He congratulated the volunteers on their work, encouraging them to continue, knowing that through their efforts as well as giving support to the many persons that came there they were laying the foundations of a new society based on love. Finally he emphasized the importance of the 72 as a privileged space for the formation of the Friars Minor and in conversation with the Provincial Minister, he agreed to propose it as a course of formation and service to the brothers of the different entities of the Order.

After the meeting at the house – Shelter, the Minister General visited an agricultural business run by the 72, which as well as being used for biological cultivation, gives temporary work to some migrants. Here he planted a Ceiba tree, which was sacred for the ancient Maya people, as its height and profound roots are symbols of the union between heaven and earth and a sign of life, grandeur, goodness strength and unity.

 

A New Director at the General Secretariat for Franciscan Missions, Waterford, USA

Br. Andrew Brophy OFM of the Province of the Assumption of the BVM, U.S.A. has been appointed Director of the GSFM, Waterford. He brings a wealth of experience to the position, having been involved in fundraising, development, education and Formation in his assignments all over the United States. He has been a Provincial Definitor at various stages for a total of 18 years, and has been Provincial Secretary, Provincial Treasurer, and General Visitator in the U.S., Ireland, Australia and Korea.

Br. Andrew succeeds Br. Teofil Czarniak OFM, who was recently elected Minister Provincial of the Province of the Immaculate Conception, Poland. The GSFM provides an essential fundraising service for the Franciscan Missions all over the world. In particular, it provides funding for Missionary and Formation projects of the Order, and raises awareness of these very worthwhile undertakings.

May Br. Andrew and his team at Waterford be blessed with all the graces that they need in this invaluable service.

Closing Ceremonies of the Eighth Centenary of the Pardon of Assisi 2017 

The Solemnity of the Pardon of Assisi is coming soon. A Feast Day that attracts many pilgrims, young and old, every year to the Portiuncola: the “Door to Mercy”  that is always open to those who are not tired of receiving it and through which they can find their own path to holiness.

This year’s celebration will be particularly solemn because it will coincide with the closure of the 8th Centenary of the Pardon of Assisi, a jubilee  inaugurated on August 2 by Card. Gualtiero Bassetti and honoured by the private pilgrimage of Pope Francis to the Portiuncola two days later, on 4 August 2016.

The solemn celebration of the Closing of the Jubilee of Pardon of Assisi, is to be held at 11.00 a.m. on 2 August 2017, presided over by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State to His Holiness,  which will be broadcast live by Padre Pio TV (to be found on National digital terrestrial channel 145 and the free Tivùsat provider at channel 445), and transmitted worldwide thanks to the broadcaster Maria Vision Italia.

Another special feature of this year is the emphasis on the common bond which links the whole Franciscan family to a feast, which was the product of the genial intuition of our Founder, Francis of Assisi.  There will be a Triduum of Preparation preached by the General Ministers of the three male Orders (for the Friars Minor Capuchins their Vicar General will preside). This sharing is in perfect harmony with the journey begun by the Franciscan Families and culminating in the celebration of an all-inclusive Chapter – Capitolo generalissimo – celebrated together.

For the Program (in Italian): http://www.assisiofm.it/il-perdono-di-assisi-2017-73517-1.html

Info: SEGRETERIA DELLA BASILICA
Tel. 075.8051430 – info@porziuncola.org – www.porziuncola.org

 

Celebration of the Eighth Centenary of the Birth of St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio

Bagnoregio. Every celebration of a centenary offers us a chance to draw nearer to the saint we are commemorating. This year we have the eighth centenary of the birth of St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio. On the vigil of the feast, July 14, Barbara Faes’s book, Bonaventura da Bagnoregio, was presented in the municipal auditorium of the city of Bagnoregio. After the presentation the liturgical feast of the saint began with the Bishop of Viterbo, Lino Fumagalli, presiding at solemn vespers in the co-cathedral, followed by the traditional procession of St. Bonaventure’s relics through the streets of the city. Then, on July 15, the solemn stational Mass was celebrated. Representatives from all branches of the Franciscan Order were present for all the events.

St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio (1217-1274). Franciscan, bishop, cardinal, philosopher and theologian, called the Seraphic Doctor. He taught at the University of Paris and was a friend of St. Thomas Aquinas. Canonized by Pope Sixtus IV in 1482, St. Bonaventure was then proclaimed Doctor of the Church by Pope Sixtus V in 1588. He wrote what was meant to be an official biography of St. Francis – the Legenda maior – which served as inspiration for the Master of the St. Francis Cycle in the production of the frescoes in the Upper Basilica in Assisi.

St. Bonaventure was General Minister of the Franciscan Order for eighteen years, for which he is sometimes called a ‘second founder.’ Under his guidance the Order promulgated the Constitutions of Narbonne, on which all further constitutions of the Order of Friars Minor have been based.

The General Ministers of the Franciscan Family have written a letter for the occasion of the centenary, recalling the saint, his theological thought, and his important role in the history of the Franciscan Order.

General Minister Visits the Province of San Felipe de Jesús in Mexico

From July 6 to 9, the General Minister, Br. Michael A. Perry visited the brothers of the San Felipe de Jesús Province, in southeast Mexico, accompanied by Br. Ignacio Ceja, General Definitor.

The Province was born in the year 1996 when it separated from the Province of the Holy Gospel. It has 52 solemn professed, 21 temporary professed and 9 novices. The General Minister met with the brothers in the cities of Cancún, Izamal and Tenosique. He was able to dialogue with the provincial Definitorium, the guardians and temporary professed Friars and their formators.

In the city of Izamal, on June 7, he met with the solemn professed brothers. There he received the official welcome by Br. Fidel Ojeda, provincial Minister, and after listening to some facts about the history of the province and of the challenges it faces, he spoke with the brothers about the current state of the Order, changes that are taking place in the world and the Order, and the challenges posed by such changes to our lives. He urged them to live in faith: “We, Friars Minor, do not always act as if our lives, our communities, our Church and the world that surrounds us, belong to God and are blessed and guided by the Holy Spirit.” They warned the brothers of the temptation of the appropriating things, people, places, roles; he admonished them against clericalism which does harm to the Church and also the life and service of the brothers. He reminded them of our call to live in ongoing conversion, our vocation to service, to going out to the margins, to the meeting of the poor. He also asked them to put their daily relationship with the Lord at the center of their lives, to nurture the quality of brotherly ties and their mission as brothers of one family.

At night, Br. Michael presided at the Eucharist and gave the habit of St Francis to a group of six candidates who entered the novitiate as well and welcomed 12 young people who began their postulancy by giving them the Tau.

On July 9, in the town of Tenosique, near the border with Central America, the General Minister visited the home-shelter for immigrant People called The 72, which, since its foundation in 2011, has welcomed more than seventy thousand people. He greeted immigrants present there, and spoke with the directors and other volunteers. He also heard some testimony of the painful experiences of the immigrants. He commended the volunteers for the work they do, encouraging them to continue knowing that, with their determination, in addition to the support of so many people they are laying the foundations of a new civilization of love. Finally, he underlined the importance of The 72 as a place privileged for the training of the Friars Minor and, in dialogue with the provincial Minister, he agreed to propose it as a space for formation and service for the brothers of the various entities of the order.

Finally, to conclude the visit to the brothers of the Province, in the agro-ecological farm, dependent on the Home for migrants, the general Minister planted a ceiba tree sacred to the ancient Maya, whose height and large roots, make it a symbol of the union of the Sky with the Earth and sign of life of greatness, goodness, strength and union.

Br. Giovanni Rinaldi OFM is Secretary General of the Order

During a session held on July 17th, 2017, the General Definitory elected Br. Giovanni Rinaldi OFM as Secretary General of the Order, filling the vacancy left by the election, on June 26th last, of Br. Aidan McGrath OFM as Minister Provincial of the Province of Ireland. Br. Giovanni is a member of the Province of St. Anthony, Northern Italy, and has until now been Private Secretary of the Minister General.

Franciscan Conference of Asia and Oceania (FCAO) Ministers Meeting 2017

 

The meeting of Provincial ministers, Custodes, Foundation Presidents and Secretariat for Formation and Studies, Mission and Evangelization and JPIC of the Franciscan Conference for Asia and Oceania was held at Casa Monte Rosa, Puncak, Indonesia on July 10-14, 2017.

The meeting was graced by Lino Gregorio Redoblado, OFM, Definitor General for Asia and Oceania. The Minister General shared a message that was read by the Definitor General at the beginning of the gathering.

The Opening Liturgy was presided by Adrianus Sunarko, OFM, the Minister Provincial of Indonesia and bishop-elect of Pangkal Pinang.

One of the main agenda of the meeting is to select the delegates for the Plenary Council of the Order to be held in Nairobi, Kenya in June 2018. During the separate meeting of the conferences, the East Asia Conference ministers has selected Francis Lee Yong Ho, OFM (South Korea) and Reu Jose Galoy, OFM (Philippines) as councilors to the upcoming Plenary Council of the Order. Meanwhile, the South Asia, Australia and Oceania Conference has selected Anthoni Selvaraj, OFM and Johnson MV, OFM as their representatives for the Plenary Council of the Order.

The EAC website was also launched during the meeting.

At the end of the gathering, the 38 ministers and secretaries delivered this statement:

We, Provincial ministers, Custodes, Foundation Presidents and FCAO Secretariat for Formation and Studies, Mission and Evangelization and JPIC, thank the Lord for gathering us together in this beautiful mountain resort to deepen bonds of fraternal solidarity, to analyze the changing realities in Asia and Oceania, and to creatively explore new avenues for collaboration in order to respond to our “call to craziness,” as articulated by our Minister General, with creativity to a world and a Church desperately in need of dreamers, lovers, and prophets.

We formally embarked to reflect on the theme of the upcoming Plenary Council of the Order in 2018 which is “He who has ear, let him hear what the Spirit says…to the friars minor today” (cf. Ap 2, 29) as we also chose the councilors for this momentous event in the life of the Order.

We recognize that our primary identity as Franciscans is to live the Holy Gospel as a Fraternity in Mission. We want to give real witness through our communities to the fact that we are all brothers. We support the General Curia’s effort to formally acknowledge this reality by declaring our Order as a Mixed Institute.

Thus both ongoing and initial formation must focus on living our Franciscan life joyfully. The purpose of Formation is the development of our Franciscan identity as lesser brothers, rather than the clerical state.

We recognize that Mutual Accompaniment is a must for both ongoing and initial formation. We recognize that there are issues of loneliness, alcoholism and sexual abuse. Ongoing Formation is an integral part of our growth and that will make our Initial Formation more effective.

We recognize that the possibilities for mission in Asia is still large. We have thus far supported and continue to support the different missions in Asia such as Thailand, Myanmar, Laos & Cambodia.

RESOLUTIONS AS FCAO

As FCAO, we are resolved as follows

  1. To host the Mission Congress for Asia 2019 and to task the secretaries for Mission and Evangelization to commence the planning for this event.
  2. To create a blueprint for submission in the next EAC and SAAOC Meetings in 2018 regarding the feasibility of an Asian Franciscan Centre for Studies, Research and Missions. The committee will comprise the Conference Presidents and Secretaries of Formation and Studies, Mission and Evangelization.
  3. To revitalize our presence by supporting our own entities that are suffering from a lack of vocations (especially Taiwan, Japan, Australia-New Zealand) or that are in a fragile state, such as by exchange programs, with suitable selection and preparation of friars.
  4. To further our collaborations and to share resources in programs for ongoing accompaniment, esp. human growth & development/ wholeness & healing.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS TO PCO/ GENERAL DEFINITORY
  1. For there to be a careful feasibility study before engaging in any new projects of the Order, e.g. language, society and culture.
  2. For there to be a careful process of identification, selection, and preparation of missionaries for projects of the Order.
  3. To review the implementation of Ratio Formationis Franciscanae which emphasizes our Franciscan Identity as being primary to our vocation, and a movement away from clerical formation and ministries as being the default option.

As we end this gathering, we thank Br. Michael Perry, OFM, Minister General, for his message. We also thank Br. Lino Gregorio Redoblado, OFM, the Definitor General for FCAO, for his fraternal presence and contribution to our gathering. Finally, we feel very grateful to Br. Adrianus Sunarko, OFM, the Minister Provincial of Indonesia and bishop-elect of Pangkal Pinang, and the members of the Province of St. Michael the Archangel, for their hospitality and generosity to us in our gathering here in Indonesia.

Br. Hermann Borg receives award for Tree Growing and Forest Conservation

 

Her Excellency Margaret Kenyatta, the First Lady of the Republic of Kenya recognized 54 awardees who promoted conservation of the environment.  Among the recipients of the “2017 Tree Growing and Forest Conservation Awards is Br. Hermann Borg, OFM (St. Francis Province, Kenya and Madagascar) who was given the “Unsung Hero” award for planting 1 million trees in the Subukia Valley over 20 years ago.

Speaking at the ceremony, the First Lady held that the survival of human beings is highly dependent on the sustainability efforts of the entire ecosystem. She however pointed out that human actions, short term and sometimes selfish motivations have negatively impacted, threatened or endangered our fragile forest cover. “This ceremony will remind us that we are all dependant on the environment and that the role our ancestors have played in the past, the role we play today, and the role our children will play in the future is extremely vital to our human survival”, she said. The First Lady congratulated the awardees for their efforts in protecting forests and their optimism for appreciating the true potential of forests and reconciling their economic efforts with sustainability values.

For more information (in English): www.kenyaforestservice.org

From the General Ministers of the First Order and of the TOR: In Company with Saint Bonaventure of Bagnoregio

Friars Minor in the World and in the Church In Company with Saint Bonaventure of Bagnoregio

The eighth centenary of the birth of St. Bonaventure is celebrated this year. Bonaventure, a central figure in the Franciscan Family, was born around 1217 in Bagnoregio, close to Orvieto (Italy). He joined the Order in 1245, having already graduated with an Arts degree. In doing so he was influenced by Alexander of Hales who, because of his attraction to Franciscan spirituality, had previously made the transition from the world of academics to that of the cloister. Bonaventure was a Master of Theology in Paris in 1255; in 1257 he was elected Minister General; and the year 1272 saw him as Cardinal Bishop of Albano with responsibility for the preparation of the Council of Lyon, during which he died on July 15th, 1274. His complete works, the Opera Omnia, were published in 9 volumes between 1882 and 1902 by the friars of Quaracchi.

 

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For Bonaventure, the human person is a being with deep desires. These desires involve both intelligence and affection seeking out and enjoying the beauty of all things — being drawn towards others because of a desire for harmony1. At the same time, Bonaventure sees this desiring person as someone who accepts the demands of the journey because of an intuition that what lies ahead has meaning. The human person knows that underlying the many and various ways by which the world is manifested, there is a unique and constant presence from which everything comes and to which everything returns. For Bonaventure, Jesus Christ represents the center point of the potential union of all things (Christocentrism), because in him everything has its origins and its fulfillment. In Christ, human desire also finds the path to the answers it seeks and longs for.

This desire for a consciousness of the union of God and the world (and of living within it) is seen by Bonaventure as being expressed in three major areas of his life as a Christian:

In the ascetical and mystical experience of seeking the face of God revealed in the humanity of Christ;

Through cultural dialogue with people of his time, bringing faith and reason into unity;

And finally,

In his commitment to the Order of Friars Minor: strengthening it and maintaining it in fidelity to Francis and in service to the Church.

1. Bonaventure was above all a “man of God” who became a “spiritual guide” to men and women. His many spiritual writings of both ascetical2 and devotional3 character attest to this. In the former, he attempts to describe a process by which we progressively approach God in our particular time and place, while in the devotional writing his goal is to arouse our love for God, directing our affections towards the life of Christ and contemplating his humanity. In these, as in all his writings, the Seraphic Doctor is deeply rooted in the Word of God, which nourished him through his assiduous reading and meditation on the Scriptures.

Among the many worthy points he makes, one is particularly emphasized: in the spiritual life, love of God cannot be reduced to pure emotionalism and affective instincts. It needs models and well thought-out processes that dispose the soul to wonder. Without an ordered ascetical process, the human soul will find it difficult to find the necessary quiet and tranquility that allows it to hear, see, taste, smell, and touch the mystery of God. For Bonaventure, it is not a question of “conquering” God, but of “allowing oneself to be found” — by being open to the unimaginable surprise of an encounter with God.

Bonaventure also reminds us, as Religious, of a second important element: in the past and in the present the world has always needed “spiritual masters” — men and women who through the witness of their life are able to help others in the process of journeying towards an experience of God. However, this proposal of providing “spiritual formation” must be founded in real, deep personal experiences, thus giving a truly Franciscan flavor to the spiritual journey. Yes, the world needs contemplatives, but they must be able to proclaim the joy of the Gospel and the beauty of living the Franciscan charism in fraternity. Our spiritual tradition, built up through holy places and extraordinary examples of holiness and learning, has a richness that today’s world recognizes as being genuinely effective in the attainment of true spiritual growth.

2. Bonaventure was also a university professor. He experienced the desire for God as a source of wonder and spiritual love, and he expressed this through a passionate dialogue with the culture of his time4. His teaching is undergirded by a twofold truth: the human person has been created in order to arrive at Divine Wisdom, to taste the wisdom of God — but it is only by means of intelligence, and through the truths of wisdom, that this can happen. In the context of university life in the mid-thirteenth century, there was an obligation to tackle the difficult questions of reconciling philosophy and theology, reason and faith, intelligence and affection, knowledge and love5. There was a danger that two intellectual positions would be held in parallel, with the serious risk of settling for a binary truth — one philosophical and the other theological, each a stranger to the other, or each conflicting with the other. Bonaventure’s solution depends on two core ideas: the human person is on a journey towards the One, the True, and the Good (expressions of the Trinitarian mystery resplendent in all things); at the same time, each person is accompanied on this path by Christ who is truth itself, and who is the inner doctor, enlightening everyone in the world.

So Bonaventure does not excommunicate the new philosophical ideas associated with Aristotle; instead he tries to integrate them into the concept of a single and progressive path that the mind, moved by the desires of the heart and supported by intelligence, travels toward God. A fundamental principle, of which Bonaventure reminds his contemporaries, is the following: intelligence is the way to wisdom, but if it closes in on itself, it inevitably falls into error.

Bonaventure offers two basic strategies to Franciscans who live in the 21st century — in a world dominated by scientific and technological knowledge that is hugely powerful, expansive, and seemingly indifferent to the Other and the Beyond. First, he asks us to take on an attitude of dialogue that is real and engaged, having a positive outlook and great respect for human capabilities, recognizing that they are a sure manifestation of the beauty that God has given to creation and to the human person. Bonaventure’s vision is not compatible with any attitude that would shun or oppose the world with its scientific and technological skills, or that would reject knowledge and development.The mystery of God as One and Triune is present in all of reality; everything bears the mark of God’s presence, and within the human person is the ability to discover this meaning and to proclaim its beauty.

At the same time, with regard to this world, he also invites us to develop a sense of openness to the transcendent, reminding people of today of two important and encouraging truths. First, every thought process leads the human person towards a deeper truth; towards that truth which unites scattered fragments and directs us to a fullness and fulfillment that goes beyond the intellectual, and that requires love. To deliberately close ourselves to the infinite would condemn the human person to science and technology that is soulless and lacking in hope. In addition, the Trinitarian mystery of divine love is what brings life to all of our efforts to approach the One, the True, and the Good. With faith giving us certainty, we should proclaim that the redemptive mystery of Christ is at work in every effort to bring about a better and more humane world, and that Christ gives himself without reserve to every person at all times.6

3. Finally, Bonaventure was given responsibility for the Order, being elected Minister General in 1257, and remaining in office until his death (1274). This shows the great esteem in which he was held by the friars. They considered him to be an irreplaceable gift to the life of the Order during a period of extraordinarily rapid expansion7.

First of all, he wanted to help the friars to connect to Francis at the level of ideals, so as to to more faithfully live out their Religious calling. What he intended was to restate the ideals that Francis of Assisi had left as an inheritance in a way that would lead to them being a source of spiritual growth and communion, rather than of conflict and disorder. Poverty, humility, loyalty to daily commitments, the life of prayer and fraternity, and a simple and modest style of life, all made up a summons to an Order that was at risk of going astray because of the prestige and power that the friars had acquired within the Church and society. In this sense, it was hugely important for Bonaventure to rewrite the life of Francis: without this model of beauty in which the mystical love of God shines through, and without a generous commitment to the world in communion with the “Poor Christ”, the friars would have found it difficult to live an authentic life of minority.

In addition to nurturing a good quality of life within the Franciscan family, he was also concerned with making the friars ready to serve the intellectual and pastoral needs of Christianity by organizing and supporting rigorous courses of study. This was a continuation of the decisions taken by Francis in response to the demand for reform proclaimed in 1215 at the fourth Lateran Council. Bonaventure felt the urgency of calling on the friars to be at the service of the universal Church and of providing them with the necessary intellectual and pastoral formation, but without giving them either reason to boast or to compete with the local church. If they could only remain free from from rivalry and the desire for power, the friars could then communicate enlightenment and good. They could respond to the demands of the times and of the Gospel in a manner that would be humble, but also competent.

Bonaventure, therefore, invites us to make a choice with regard to two major issues. First of all, he exhorts us to nurture and protect our relationship with the ideal of Gospel life uniquely represented by Francis. This allows us to be friars who are open to the needs of this world, and capable of communicating a message characterized by simplicity, joy and minority, fraternity and prophecy. In addition to this, our presence within the Church must have theologically informed intelligence, good pastoral formation, and strong commitment to the apostolate at its heart. In short, he reminds us that to be salt and light for the earth — with a distinctive “Franciscan” flavor — we need to be heralds who are credible not only because of our way of life, but also because of our “competence” in presenting the saving Word.8

If we still want to be friars of the people, men who bring good news to the streets of our world, Bonaventure reminds us that our Franciscan life has three essential elements: a consistent and credible relationship with the mystery of God’s love; fraternal life that is characterized by peace, and is a sign of reconciled humanity; and finally, a serious intellectual formation that enables us to effectively and competently enter into dialogue with our world. What is of concern here is not the matter of reestablishing a great Order, but perhaps instead of accepting our current numerical and institutional poverty with humility. Edified by a renewed focus on Francis, we might then return to being truly and simply “friars minor”. It is from that point that we must begin again to journey with passion, intelligence, and generosity.  We will seek to make the good news of the Gospel that was proclaimed by Francis and restated by Bonaventure, ring out — touching the mind and heart of our contemporary world, a world that thirsts for hope and still longs to look Beyond to encounter the Other.

Conclusion

In his writings, Bonaventure uses the circle to describe the motion that occurs between God and the human person. Rather than a vertical relationship, he speaks of a circular movement whose dynamic is the convergent mutual seeking of both God and the human person — two pilgrims bound by the same desire for communion. The person who sets out on this path is met by the  solicitude of the One who made himself a pilgrim in order to meet people wherever they are. The ultimate act of the intellectual and affective journey will not be “to apprehend”  in the sense of domination, but to be understood. Indeed, it means to be embraced by Him who, out of love alone, dwells among us, allowing us to meet Him in all our efforts towards unity, truth, and goodness. This is the urgent and penetrating message that Bonaventure invites us to assimilate and pass on to others, a sign of our presence at this difficult time of rapid change. Saint Bonaventure helps us to “spread the wings” of the hope that drives us to be like him, unceasing seekers of God, singing of the beauty of creation and witnessing to a Love and Beauty that “moves all things.”

_______

1 “In fact, the soul is not contemplative without a lively desire. Therefore, desire disposes the soul to receive the light.” (Collationes in Hexaëmeron 22, 29).

2  We can recall some of his principal writings: The Threefold Way; The Soliloquium; On the Perfection of Life Addressed to the Sisters; On Governing the Soul; The Treatise of Preparation for Mass.

3 The Tree of Life; The Five Feasts of Child Jesus; The Office of Passion; The Mystical Vine.

4 In addition to his monumental Commentary on the Judgments, we will mention only a few of his theological writings: Retracing the Arts to Theology; The Soul’s Journey into God; The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit; The Collationes in Hexaëmeron.

5 “My first invitation, then, is to the groaning of prayer through the crucified Christ …..  that the reader may not believe that it suffices to have reading without unction, speculation without devotion, investigation without admiration, observation without exultation, diligence without compassion, industry without piety, knowledge without love, understanding without humility, study without divine grace, the mirror without divinely inspired wisdom.” (Itinerarium mentis in Deum, prologue, 4).

6 “The Franciscan saint [Bonaventure] teaches us that each creature bears in itself a specifically Trinitarian structure, so real that it could be readily contemplated if only the human gaze were not so partial, dark and fragile. In this way, he points out to us the challenge of trying to read reality in a Trinitarian key.” (Laudato Si, 239).

7 The Constitutions of Narbonne; The Legenda Major and the Legenda Minor (Lives of St. Francis); The Apologia of the Poor.

8 “The study of the wise consists of this: that our study be directed only to God, who is completely to be desired.” (Collationes in Hexaëmeron 19, 27).

A recognition to the parish priest of Aleppo

Friar Ibrahim Alsabagh, of the Holy Land Custody and parish priest in Aleppo (Syria), received the “Jan Karski” award on June 26, 2017.

Despite the war, not a day goes by without Br. Ibrahim Alsabagh going out to ensure that people are helped. That is why he was awarded the “Jan Karski” prize in Cracow (Poland).

This award is given to persons that are outstanding in “humanitarian service.” So, the Franciscan Friar Ibrahim was honored for having given “hope in a hopeless world and for taking hope to a forgotten people.”

Published by “Edizioni Terra Santa” in Milan and translated into several languages, in his book, An Instant Before Dawn. Syria. Chronicles of War and Hope from Aleppo (cf. Fraternitas, April 2017; ACTA Ordinis, # 1/2017, the Franciscan Friar, shares his testimony as an authentic Chronicle, written day by day.

At the reception of the “Karski” prize Br. Ibrahim Alsabagh said that the award was “an encouragement” to continue his mission of bringing “help, consolation and hope to people” who live in a martyred town.

For more information (in Italian): www.terrasanctablog.org

 

Responding to Jesus who says “follow me” | Concluding Homily of the Continental Congress in Jakarta

The first Continental Congress for Formators of the two Conferences in Asia (EAC and SAOOC) concluded on Friday evening, July 7, 2017.   After a week of intense work, the brothers have produced a short document (Statement) entitled, “Accompaniment in Fraternal Life”.  It is divided into three sections: the first part presents Our Vision for Accompaniment in our Franciscan fraternity. This vision has guided the deliberations and will enliven the endeavours as the brothers seek to deepen the understanding of the significance of accompaniment to Franciscan life.  Section two will present an understanding of Our Present Reality as it has unfolded in the conversations during the fraternal gathering. Section three will outline The Journey to a New Vision and a New Reality which will present some methods on moving  towards the renewed vision and new reality of Franciscan Accompaniment.  This document will be available online shortly.

At the concluding Mass of the meeting, Br. Cesare Vaiani, General Secretary for Formation and Studies, reflected on the ongoing invitation of Jesus to follow Him.  Here’s an excerpt of the concluding homily:

The decision to follow Jesus needs to be renewed every day. These days we have talked a lot about ongoing formation. We said that it is necessary to assume an attitude available to change something in our lives every day. Ongoing formation is about our ordinary life, rather than extraordinary initiatives. Even Matthew, sitting at the customs post, was doing his ordinary job. In his ordinary life Jesus came in, with authority and gentleness: “Follow Me”.

The word “follow me” indicates a path, a movement. We can’t follow someone standing still. We can’t follow someone without getting into the game, without changing what we are doing. We have to be careful to give the right answer for each moment. Jesus’ call to follow him asks that we are available for a permanent change. Permanent or ongoing formation is this permanent change, which wants to answer the word of Jesus: “Follow me”.

[…]

In the following part of Francis’s life we also find many vocations. We can remember his call to go East, among the Saracens and other non-believers: for three times he tries to realize this project, and only the third time he can meet the Sultan. We find the difficult call of the fraternal relationship, which challenges Francis with the arrival of many brothers proposing important changes. We encounter the tough call that came to him from the ongoing changes in the Order, to which he replied with his resignation from Minister General. Another call of God reaches Francis at La Verna, which once again indicates to follow Jesus on the way of the cross. In the last two years of his life we can recognize another call, to which he responds in the Canticle of Creatures, expressing a new look on creation and his own life. And finally, we can mention the last and supreme call of “our Sister Bodily Death, from whom no one living can escape”.

All Francis’ life is marked by his will to respond again to the challenging calls of the Lord. Like Francis, we too want to welcome the call of the Lord that today repeats “follow me”.

St. Bonaventure: “Reason that is open to mystery; Faith that is reasonable”

 

Because it occurs during the eight centenary of his birth in 1217, the feast day of St. Bonaventure will be celebrated with greater solemnity this year in his native Bagnoregio (Lazio). Fr. Pietro Messa ofm, spoke to the readers of ZENIT about the celebrations taking place on Friday and Saturday,14-15th July.   

Pietro Messa, a Friar Minor, is professor of Franciscan History at the Pontifical University, Antonianum. Since 2005 he has served as the head of the School of Medieval and Franciscan Higher Studies at the Antonianum. Amongst his many publications is Francis of Assisi and Mercy, which he co-wrote with Msgr. Paolo Martinelli (Bologna 2015).

 

ZENIT: Fr Messa, St. Bonaventure is being celebrated: How? and Why? 

Fr. Pietro Messa, ofm: Bonaventure of Bagnoregio, a Franciscan, died at Lyon on 15th July, where he had gone to participate in the Council summoned by Pope Gregory X. When Pope Sixtus IV canonized him in 1482, following the tradition of the Church, Bonaventure’s liturgical feast day was fixed as his dies natalis, the day when he was born to eternal life, on the 15th July. The celebration was made even more solemn when Pope Sixtus V declared him a Doctor of the Church in 1588. This year, 2017, marks the eighth centenary of his birth in 1217.

 

A statue of this saint watches over St. Peter’s Square: what does that mean for the Church?

Fr Pietro Messa, ofm: It is very significant that the series of saints that adorns Bernini’s colonnade begins with St. Bonaventure on the right-hand side of St. Peter’s Basilica, and with St. Thomas Aquinas on the left. This is an important reminder that these two theologians (both declared Doctors of the Church) are an important point of reference for an understanding of faith and culture — so much so, that the year of both their deaths, 1274, has been seen by some as a change of epoch, indicating the end of the Middle Ages.

Their position in St. Peter’s is a sign that they are two central pillars of an approach that sees reason as open to mystery, and faith that is reasonable. This approach is necessary in order to resist any temptation towards fundamentalism and fideism — whose devastating effects can still be seen today.

 

What does this great Franciscan hand on to us from St. Francis?  

Fr Pietro Messa, ofm: First of all, in his Life of St. Francis, Bonaventure does not present a chronological history of Francis of Assisi, but instead gives a theological reading of his life in the manner of a hagiography. This work, like any hagiography, is a theological reading of history — but this does not mean that it eliminates history. If we do not keep this in mind, we can easily begin talking in terms of myths, and start negating history, as has happened recently.

According to Bonaventure, one of the characteristic features of the spiritual life of Francis of Assisi is that his wisdom grew from his humility. It is precisely that which made him open to the action of the Holy Spirit, and in this way, he became so conformed to Jesus that he was a living memorial of Christ in his time and for his time.

 

For the complete text (in Italian): https://it.zenit.org/articles/s-bonaventura-per-una-ragione-aperta-al-mistero-e-una-fede-ragionevole/

Appointment of Under Secretaries at the Dicastery for Integral Human Development

The Holy Father has appointed three Under Secretaries at the Dicastery for Integral Human Development: Rev. Mons. Segundo Tejado Muñoz, former Under Secretary at the Pontifical Council, Cor Unum; Br. Nicola Riccardi, OFM (Samnito-Hirpina S. Mariae Gratiarum Prov., Benevento, IT), Professor at the Pontifical University Antonianum, Rome, and Chair in Justice and Peace at the PUA Faculty of Theology; and Dr. Flaminia Giovanelli, formerly Under Secretary at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

Venerables Louis Kosiba, Paula of Jesus Gil Cano, Maria Elisabetta Mazza

Promulgation of the Decrees of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints

On 7 July 2017, the Holy Father Francis received in audience His Eminence Cardinal Angelo Amato, S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. During the audience, the Holy Father authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate the following decrees:

  • the heroic virtues of Servant of God, Alojz Kosiba, religious of the Order of Friars Minor, born on June 29, 1855 in Libusza (Poland) and died on January 4, 1939 in Wieliczka (Poland).
  • the heroic virtues of Servant of God Paula of Jesus Gil Cano, foundress of the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of the Purish Conception, born February 2, 1849 in Vera (Spain) and died on January 18, 1913 in Murcia (Spain).
  • the heroic virtues of Servant of God Maria Elisabetta Mazza, foundress of the Institute of Little Apostle of the Christian School, born January 21, 1886 in Martinengo (Italy) and died August 29, 1950 in Bergamo (Italy).

 

Venerable Louis Kosiba

Louis was born on June 29, 1855 in Libusza, diocese of Tarnów (Poland). His admirable and fervent christian farmer parents were economically poor. After learning the shoemaker’s trade, in 1878 Louis entered the Friars Minor at Jaroslaw. He traveled to the novitiate in Wieliczka, to the present Province of Saint Mary of the angels in Poland. Louis spent all his life in the humble work of shoemaker, horticulturist, nurse and nurturing the poor. Louis brought into being his sanctity above all by the humble service of begging alms. Bother Louis visited the neighbors’ homes bringing to them his Franciscan joy and humility. He shared the Word of God and the content of the Faith. He distributed good writings. Brother Louis gave encouragement to the sick and enjoyment to the children. Louis died on January 4, 1939, at the age of 84, returning from his last begging for alms. He had the fame of being a saint. The cause for his canonization initiated in 1963.

 

Venerable Paula of Jesus Gil Cano

Francisca Paula founded the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of the Most Pure Conception in Murcia in 1880. She was born in Vera (Spain) in 1849. Paula was a modest person, poor in human resources, weak in health and strong in spirit and abundant in extraordinary charity. She communicated to her spiritual daughters the passion for Christ-poor through the foundation of numerous works of charity. Prayer was her support. She was serene, mild, prudent, anchored in God. She called herself a “poor and humble daughter of Saint Francis of Assisi“. Paula called her Institute a “little Franciscan flock”.

Francisca Paula was destitute of the government of the Institute in 1912. They marginalized Paula for being ill and for some misunderstandings. Francisca Paula forgave everything heroically. She died at the house of Murcia on 18 January 1913. The process for her Canonization started in 1995.

 

Venerable Maria Elisabetta Mazza

Maria Elizabetta was born in Martinengo, diocese of Bergamo (Italy) in 1886. She joined the Third Order of Saint Francis of Assisi in 1904. She was an elementary teacher in public school from 1911 on. She spread the word of God and the principles of Catholic morality in the field of child education and of relationship with their families. To this purpose, she founded a new religious institution that he called the Little Apostles of the Christian School, whose members practice the work of mercy of teaching, as a vocation, but incorporated into the activity of the public school.

The Servant of God cared intensely for the students of the poorest families, those in need of support, and those with psychophysical difficulties. Maria Elisabetta Mazza passed away in Bergamo on August 29, 1950. The Cause of Beatification was entrusted to Fr. Antonio Cairoli, OFM; General postulant of the Order, in 1987.

 

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