Brazil hosted the first OFS-YouFra Formation School of the Southern Cone from June 20 to 23, 2019. The theme was, “Franciscan Formation and Identity: For a Fraternity Without Borders”. The school was held in Foz de Iguazú — a triple border region of Brazil-Paraguay-Argentina, which includes the famed Iguazu (Iguaçu) Falls, which participants got to visit. The priority focus was on formation, leadership, and Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC). The general objective “was to provide a space of formative and informative sharing” for OFS and YouFra formators, JPIC animators, fraternal animators and spiritual assistants.
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In the city of Llerda in Catalonia a certain man called Juan, who was devoted to blessed Francis, happened to pass by one evening on the road where there was concealed a deadly ambush—not for him, actually, for he harbored no hostilities, but for another man who looked like him and who often was in his company. One of the men who lay in ambush leaped out of hiding and, taking him for his enemy, stabbed him with deadly blows, wounding him repeatedly, so there was no hope of his recovery.
The physicians pronounced his healing to be impossible. So, since he was beyond all human aid, he turned with all possible devotion to beg the protection of the blessed Father Francis, on whom (as well as on the blessed Virgin) he had called with great trust even in the middle of the ambush.
Behold, as the poor man lay all alone on his bed, unable to sleep and moaning Francis’ name over and over, it seemed to him that someone dressed in the habit of a Lesser Brother came in through the window and approached him. This person called him by name and said: “Since you have placed your trust in me, behold, the Lord will deliver you.” When the wounded man asked him who he was, he answered that he was Francis. And as soon as he said this, he approached the man’s wounds, undid the bandages, and seemed to anoint all the wounds with an ointment. No sooner did he feel the gentle touch of those sacred hands, which had the capacity to heal by the power of the Savior’s stigmata, than the flesh was restored and the wounds were closed, so that he was once again in perfect health. After doing this, the blessed Father disappeared.
The man, feeling himself healed, burst out exultantly into shouts of praise to God and Saint Francis, and cried out for his wife. She hurried in at a run, and, as she saw the man standing up whom she had expected to bury the next day, she was utterly terrified and stunned, so that by her screams she gathered the whole neighborhood.
The people of the household hurried in, and tried to force him back into bed, thinking he was in delirium, while he fought them off, insisting that he was cured, [saying] “Do not be afraid! Do not believe that what you see is false, because Saint Francis has just left this place and has cured me completely of every wound by the touch of those sacred hands.” As the news of this miracle spread, the whole town hastened there. Seeing the power of blessed Francis’s stigmata by means of such an obvious miracle, they were at the same time filled with wonder and with joy, and extolled Christ’s standard bearer with loud cries of praise.
It was fitting indeed that the blessed Father,
now already dead in the flesh, and living with Christ,
should give health to a mortally wounded man
by the wonderful manifestation of his presence
and the gentle touch of his sacred hands,
since he bore upon his body the brand marks
of the One who,
by His merciful death and wondrous resurrection,
had healed the human race
—which had been wounded and left half alive—
healing us by the power of His wounds.
From The Major Legend of Saint Francis by St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio, Miracles I, 5
Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, recently wrote to Mother Agnes, Prioress of the Proto-Monastery of the Poor Clares of Assisi. “The pandemic that confines us at home is your hour, the hour of the contemplative life that brings humanity and the Church back to God, to the essentials of faith, prayer and communion in the Spirit”. Mother Agnes had requested that the cardinal write a few words to the nuns, in these difficult times due to the spread of the coronavirus.
Cardinal Ouellet affirms this “is the hour of the contemplative life”. At a time when, “many families are suffering the illness and the death of their loved ones in solitude”, despite the heroism of doctors and health care workers, contemplatives are “at the bedside” of the sick, and the Spirit opens their hearts “to the most hidden frontiers of suffering humanity”. The “discreet and widespread” presence of religious, is “a balm of tenderness and peace on the wounds” of humanity.
Read the full text (in Italian) on Vatican News.
Image: Maestro della Santa Chiara, Miracle of the loaves
“The community of the friars of the Sepulchre is made up of 11 brothers,” says Fr. Salvador Rosas Flores, Superior of the Franciscan convent at the Holy Sepulchre. “Despite the complete absence of pilgrims, we are keeping up our rhythm of prayer and fraternity.
Our main intention of prayer, in this period, is the request to the Lord to take care of the situation that the whole world is facing.”
Even in this very particular time, in the Basilica, the Franciscans and the other Christian communities present continue to respect the rules of the Status Quo, celebrating their liturgies at the Tomb, at Calvary and in all the holy places inside the Holy Sepulchre. “There are seven presbyters amongst us, the Franciscans, and every day we celebrate at least one Mass each, for a total of seven daily Masses, which are usually celebrated by groups of pilgrims; one solemn Mass in front of the edicule, four in the Tomb and two at Calvary.” Although they are few in number, the Franciscans continue to meet to observe the daily rhythms of prayer, including Vespers, the daily procession and the night Office.
The intentions, during the times of prayer, are multiple. “As well as those which continuously entrusted to us by pilgrims and benefactors,” continues Fr. Salvador “in this historic time, our main concern is praying for all the countries in the world that are suffering because of Coronavirus”. A single intention that contains many nuances: the main thought is turned to the spread of the virus, but the prayers are also directed to the health care personnel, the patients and the governments, so that they can make the right and coherent decisions, without forgetting the economic sphere, and the difficulties suffered by workers and their families.
The uncertainty of the global situation is also creating variable feelings in the community, but our unshaking trust in the Lord is there in the background. “We are attentive to all the current problems,” says Fr. Salvador, “but we are even more so for Covid-19. There are two reasons for this: we live in a region where more and more people are falling ill and, above all, we come from different parts of the world: Europe, the Middle East North America and Latin America, which are starting to come into contact with the issue of the increase in infections.”
Technology and social media are also fundamental tools for the Franciscans of the Holy Sepulchre. Thanks to them, they can keep relations and contacts with abroad alive: the different Franciscan provinces, their countries of origin and their families. “We know everybody’s conditions and we are trying to ensure that nobody is lacking support and encouragement. Above all, we are trying to advise our friends of forms of behaviour that we know have been successful elsewhere and which we also follow, of course. The Lord will help us.”
The Holy Father has appointed as auxiliary of the Archdiocese of Corrientes, Argentina, Br. José Adolfo Larregain, OFM, guardian of the House of Formation of the Temporary Professed in the diocese of Merlo-Moreno, assigning him the titular see of Mauriana.
Br. José Adolfo Larregain, OFM
Br. José Adolfo Larregain OFM, was born in Adolfo González Chávez, province of Buenos Aires, on 3 April 1966 and was ordained a priest on 19 March 2004, and incardinated in the Order of Friars Minor. He graduated in pastoral theology from the Faculty of Theology of the Catholic University of Argentina.
He held various roles in the different areas of Argentina where the Franciscan communities are present: Río Cuarto, Salta, Lomás de Mariló, and Moreno.
He is currently Guardian of the Community of Friars Minor in the Diocese of Merlo-Morenus. He is also parish administrator of the Virgen de la Paz parish and was appointed as provincial definitor of his Order.