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The Franciscans in Libya

Throughout the XII and the XVII centuries, Christians who had been captured by corsairs and kept in slavery gave birth to the Christian presence in Tripoli, Libya. Among them were a small number of Franciscans who upon being freed in 1630 remained in the city to offer assistance to the Catholic slaves. In 1643, the Franciscan Mission was founded in Tripoli eventually elevated to Apostolic Vicariate entrusted to the Order in 1912 by Pius XI.

Religious life in Tripoli was quite intense, so much that in 1952 the procession of Corpus Domini began to take place. On 1st September 1969, a group of army officers led by Muammar Gaddafi claimed power and founded the Libyan-Arab Republic. In July 1970, the Revolutionary Council ordered the confiscation of all Italian and church property. In September of the same year, the Vicar Apostolic of Benghazi was expelled and the Cathedral in Tripoli closed and transformed into a Mosque. The Libyan Government conceded the Church of Saint Francis for the use of the Catholics. To date, this is the only functioning church in Tripoli.

With the revolution of 2011, many of the friars and all the women’s congregations except the Missionaries of Charity left the country. Currently, the presence of the Church in Tripoli consists of six Sisters, the Vicar Apostolic, Mgr. George Bugeja OFM, and Br. Magdy Helmy OFM from Egypt. In Benghazi, two friars minister: The Apostolic Administrator, Br. Sandro Overend Rigillo OFM, with Br. Piotr Borkowski OFM from Poland.

The last years have not been easy due to the various situations of fighting and instability including the situation of migrants and refugees. A situation currently improving with the forthcoming elections on 24th December 2021. Embassies are returning, as are foreign workers from Egypt, Italy, Malta, Turkey and others. Presently the Church is ministering to Filipinos, Nigerians, South Sudanese along with other smaller communities coming from India and the Ivory Coast.

The Franciscans in Libya are looking for two friars, one for Tripoli and one for Benghazi who would be able to give at least a period of one year in this ministry entrusted to the Order. Knowing the English language is necessary since it is the language that is used for liturgical celebrations. Anyone who is interested or who would like to acquire more information can contact them through the General Curia’s Missions and Evangelisation Office by sending an email to missgen@ofm.org

Laudato Si’ Week 2021 to feature Cardinals, Catholic leaders, world-renowned speakers and authors

Rome, 10 May 2021

Vatican experts on Laudato Si’ among speakers during 16-25 May celebration

 

Laudato Si’ Week 2021 will feature a diverse lineup of Catholic leaders from across the globe, as well as world-renowned speakers and authors as the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics come together to celebrate the end of the Special Laudato Si’ Anniversary Year later this month.

Through live dialogues and Spirit-filled conversations, the 10-day celebration will highlight the great progress Catholics have made in bringing Laudato Si’ to life and inspire the faithful everywhere to plan further action ahead of the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15), the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) and the decade ahead.

Pope Francis invites all Catholics to take part in the joyful celebration, which coincides with the sixth anniversary (May 24) of when His Holiness finished writing the encyclical.

The week’s theme is, “for we know that things can change” (Laudato Si’ 13), and the week’s dialogues and events will seed such hope throughout the globe.

For Fr. Joshtrom Kureethadam, Coordinator of Ecology and Creation at the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, “the Laudato Si’ Week opened the Special Laudato Si’ Year and will now close it. Let us celebrate the beautiful gift of Laudato Si’ during this week and put it into action.”

The week will begin with a crucial Laudato Si’ Dialogue on how all Catholics can create change ahead of COP15 and COP26. One of the Vatican’s leading experts on Laudato Si’, Fr. Augusto Zampini, will take part in the conversation, along with voices from Amazonia and South Africa, that will be moderated by Christine Allen, the director of the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD).

Midway through the week, His Eminence Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, the president of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE), will participate in a dialogue on the economy and how Catholic institutions everywhere can build a more resilient future by committing to divestment.

The vital conversation also will feature Bill McKibben, New York Times’ best-selling author and co-founder of the environmental advocacy group 350.org, and Jeni Miller, executive director of the Global Climate and Health Alliance.

Pope Francis calls on all Catholics to undergo an ecological conversion, and Thursday’s Laudato Si’ Dialogue will showcase testimonials from religious leaders in countries around the world, including those that have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, such as India, the U.S.A., the Philippines or Latin America.

Josianne Gauthier, CIDSE Secretary General says: “At CIDSE, as we celebrate Laudato Si’ and the continued commitment of thousands of people and communities around the world to protect our common home, we also remember that we must keep striving for a more just and equal planet where our shared global challenges are faced in a spirit of solidarity. In this context, the wealthiest and most powerful countries who consume and benefit the most must take their responsibilities in response to the climate crisis.”

“Sowing Hope for the Planet” will be moderated by Sister Sheila Kinsey of the Franciscan Sisters Daughters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and Alberto Parise of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus.

On 24 May, His Eminence Cardinal Peter K.A. Turkson, Prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, will take part in a discussion about the progress the global Church has made in providing access to safe drinking water for our most vulnerable sisters and brothers around the world.

The week also will showcase Laudato Si’s transformative impact on global education, a “Songs for Creation” festival, a global day of action, and the launching of the Laudato Si’ Action Platform. A complete and detailed schedule for Laudato Si’ Week 2021 can be found at LaudatoSiWeek.org.

All of the global events will be simultaneously translated to English, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Polish and French.

Locally, Catholics are encouraged to lead similar opportunities, including sustainability events and prayer gatherings, and help inspire their community by registering their event at LaudatoSiWeek.org, where they can download free resources and tips on how to successfully organize an event.

“At a time when the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor are becoming more and more intense, Laudato Si’ Week is a perfect opportunity to care for our common home. The clock is ticking. Everyone is invited, and needed, to join the celebration and the action, through local activities, online events and more.indicates Tomás Insua, Executive Director of Global Catholic Climate Movement.

The Laudato Si’ Special Anniversary Year was launched by the Vatican last May, at the end of the 2020 Laudato Si’ Week, which commemorated the fifth anniversary of the encyclical.

Laudato Si’ Week 2021 is sponsored by the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and facilitated by the Global Catholic Climate Movement in collaboration with RENOVA+, Caritas Internationalis, CIDSE, International Union Superiors General, Union of Superiors General,  Society of Jesus, the General office for justice, peace, and integrity of creation from the Order from the Franciscan Friars, and in partnership with dozens of Catholic partners.

More information can be found at LaudatoSiWeek.org.  Download PDF of Press Release.

Celebrating the Feast of St. Mary Mediatrix, Patroness of the OFM General Curia

On the 8th of May 2021, the Community of the OFM General Curia, observing health and safety protocols, celebrated the feast of its patroness St. Mary Mediatrix. The highlight of the feast was the 11:30 a.m. Eucharistic concelebration. Br. Hugh McKenna, OFM, Guardian of St. Isidore’s College in Rome presided, assisted by the General Definitor, Br. Lino Gregorio Redoblado and the Secretary for Formation and Studies, Br. Cesare Vaiani. The Friars of the General Curia with a few friends of the community were in attendance.

In Memory of Br Cormac Nagle, OFM

 

The Franciscan family mourns the death of Br. Cormac (Malcolm) Nagle who died 4 May 2021. Br. Cormac was 88 years old, 70 years Professed, and 64 years Ordained. He served as Provincial Minister for the Province of the Holy Spirit (Australia), Definitor General of the Order, lecturer in moral theology, teacher at Yarra Theological Union, ethicist at Mercy Hospital, and mentor to many within and outside the Order.

We express our deepest condolences to the brothers of the Province of the Holy Spirit as well as to the members of the Nagle family.

May eternal rest be granted unto him, O Lord, and may he rest in peace.

Koinonia 2021 – 1 (N.109): Animate and guide with a leadership of service

Animate and guide with a leadership of service

 

Every generation has its challenges. Today we, all over the world, are fighting with covid. The pandemic puts into test our personal as well as institutional spirituality. In this new Easter season the Lord invites us not to lose hope, to maintain peace and trust. This is fundamental in the face of such an invasive reality that we feel in all areas of our daily lives. This reality affects all our relationships, at home with our loved ones, in the neighbourhood, on the streets, in politics, at work, etc… The risen Christ calls us to empower the best of ourselves and of our institutions to serve with joy and to maintain trust in God and in humanity.

The OFS is spread throughout the world with brothers and sisters meeting regularly in the name of the Lord since almost eight hundred years. It has goals to achieve and a call to respond within the Church. Thus, the Secular Franciscan leadership is called to animate and guide the fraternities to live in each time and context the Franciscan spirit as lay people inserted in their parish and national community.

 

  • Koinonia 2021-1“Animate and guide with a leadership of service”– Fr. Hernán Eguzquiza TOR

N. 109

PDF: EnglishItalianoEspañolFrançais

DOC : EnglishItalianoEspañolFrançais

 

Pope Francis to Poor Clares of Paganica: “In the face of tragedy, start afresh from God and from fraternal solidarity”

On the morning of April 26, 2021, the Holy Father received in audience the Poor Clare Sisters of the Saint Clare Monastery in Paganica, L’Aquila, Italy.

The following is the Pope’s address to those present:

Dear sisters,

I am happy to welcome you and I greet each and every one of you from my heart. I thank you for the support you give me with your prayers, and in particular for the gift of the Easter candle you decorated for the Chapel of Casa Santa Marta. Through this symbol of Christ, light of the world, you are spiritually present at the celebrations held in that chapel.

Your community of Paganica, a hamlet of L’Aquila, experienced the tragedy of the 2009 earthquake, in which your Monastery was destroyed, Abbess Mother Gemma Antonucci died in the rubble, and other sisters were injured. However, God brought you out of that tragedy stronger and, like the grain of wheat that must die in order to bear fruit, so it was also for your monastic community. You experienced great pain, but also the loving care of your heavenly Father and the solidarity of so many people.

On that night you lost everything apart from God and fraternity. From these two steadfast points you set out again with courage. At first you settled in a temporary structure and, ten years after the earthquake, you returned to the rebuilt and restored monastery. Now your community is flourishing, made up of twelve sisters, all young. This is the message you have given to the people: in the face of tragedy, it is necessary to start afresh from God and from fraternal solidarity. Thank you so much for this!

Dear sisters, do not tire of being a praying and consoling presence to support the population, sorely tried by the terrible experience and still in need of comfort and encouragement. May the example of Blessed Antonia help you always to be poor and joyful women for love of the poor Christ. Faithful to the charism received from St Clare and St Francis, respond generously to the desire that God has placed in your hearts, living your lives as consecrated women in total adherence to the Gospel.

I thank you for this visit! I invoke upon your journey the light and strength of the Holy Spirit and I accompany you with the Apostolic Blessing which I impart to you from my heart. And please continue to pray for me and for the whole Church. Thank you!

 

Photo: Vatican News

Nagasaki project! What is it?

Nagasaki Project is an International Franciscan Community of Peace, whose basic concept is to spread and promote lasting peace in the city of Nagasaki and the world.

It was first thought by former Minister General José Rodríguez Carballo, OFM when he visited Nagasaki during the East Asian Conference meeting in Japan in 2010 September. His short stay and experience of the place bore an inspiration to dream of an International Community of Friars in Nagasaki that would be a living statement of peace and reconciliation. He further suggested to the Japanese Franciscan Province to host the proposed International Community for such purpose.

Nagasaki was chosen for the new mission of the Order because it was here in 1945 that the atomic bomb was dropped, wherein hundreds of thousands of people including innocent children perished.  The bombing brought devastation, deep sorrow, and hatred.

In addition, Nagasaki was a place of heavy persecution and martyrdom in the early centuries (16th -19th century) where Christians sealed their fidelity to Christ sacrificing their lives, such as the Twenty-six Martyrs of Japan (1597), including early Franciscan missionaries, St. Peter Baptist and companions, and all others who followed them.

The Franciscan Province of the Holy Martyrs of Japan after years of thorough discernment finally adhered to host the proposed International community. And to begin with this new international community, it was suggested to ask the collaboration of the OFM East Asian Conference. Later in 2018 two brothers, Bro. Francis Furusato of Japanese Province and Bro. Antonio Kim of Korean Province, who were both living in Japan signified, and were officially assigned to the new mission, the Nagasaki Project.

In 2020 another two brothers joined the Nagasaki Project: Bro. Berardo Yang of China Custody and Bro. Alberto Marfil of the Philippine Province. The brothers are presently inserted with the regular community of Nagasaki where the other three brothers are administering the parish and kindergarten school.

The ordinary life in the fraternity of the brothers is the basis and key for the Project. To live as a contemplative fraternity in evangelizing mission. They support the campaign for the abolition of nuclear weapons through the presence of their Franciscan community in Nagasaki. The brothers collaborated with the EAC-JPIC office on their Peace activities, and with other agencies that have the same advocacy.

As of now, the brothers are in the initial stage of organizing themselves and their activities. They use Japanese and English as their common language. The latter brothers, even after months of formal studies of Nihongo (Japanese language) at the Foreign Language School in Tokyo, are still taking their private Nihongo lessons with a Japanese brother in Nagasaki to further their language skills. They come together three times a week to read, reflect, and share the writings of St. Francis, a venue to build themselves into a community of peace. The brothers will later study in common the history of the hidden Christians and their discovery in Japan, the approach to the mission of the early Franciscans in Japan-success and failure, and the Second World War atomic bomb experiences of the surviving victims.

The following are some possible projects of the community:

  1. To share with other people, lay, religious and priests the life, writings, and prayers of St. Francis of Assisi, a man and an instrument of peace, through talks, recollections, and encounters.
  2. To develop a small institute on Franciscan Spirituality, centered on peace, dialogue, and reconciliation. Learning from St. Peter Baptist and companions on their mission experience, approach, and strategies of the evangelization in Japan in the 16th century.
  3. Peace appeal: to share the experiences of the people who suffered the tragic event and the effects of the atomic bombing to their lives; to collaborate and participate in a Franciscan way to anti-nuclear weapons campaign. A Facebook “Nagasaki Franciscan” account was launched to serve as a place to communicate the Nagasaki Project mission.
  4. To welcome friars interested in the Nagasaki Project to visit and stay for short periods of three to six months, either for exposure or sabbatical.
  5. To accommodate and guide pilgrims, local and foreign, in following the missionary footsteps of St. Peter Baptist and companions from Kyoto, Osaka to Nagasaki; as well as to trace the different sanctuaries and places of the early hidden Christians in Nagasaki. A simple house for pilgrims that can accommodate five to seven persons is within the compound of the parish of St. Peter Baptist where the Nagasaki community lives.

 

To ensure the success of the Nagasaki Project, we need more friars. The Nagasaki Project community welcomes friars from every region of the world.  Whoever is interested in the project to be a member would have to stay for a minimum of six years. Come and join Nagasaki Project!

 

 

 

 

Message for the Month of Ramadan 2021

April 13, 2021 (1442 AH)

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 us great pleasure once again to extend our greetings to you as you begin the holy month of Ramadan.

More than a year has passed has since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The personal losses and hardships we have all endured have been painful and profound, and may continue, but we trust in God (Allāh swt) who assures us: “the future will be better than the past” (al-Ḍuḥā 93.4), and: “truly, with hardship there is comfort” (al-Sharḥ 94.5).

Last year, for many of you, Ramadan was observed primarily in your homes, apart from relatives and friends. Although vaccinations are now increasingly available, public health measures and social distancing may continue to limit your communal suhur and iftar – and limit the opportunity for many of us in the Franciscan family to break the fast with you, as we have done so often in the past. It will be a happy day indeed when we can all freely and fully celebrate our sacred seasons again.

It is truly a sign of God, the Most Compassionate (al-Raḥmān), the Most Merciful (al-Raḥīm), the Most Wise (al-Ḥakīm), and the Most Munificent (al-Karīm), that the celebration of Ramadan this year again falls at a time when Christians are celebrating the Easter season, and when so many people of faith around the world – Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Baha’i – are also observing holy days. As you give thanks and praise to God for the revelation of the Holy Qur’an, all of humanity, it seems, will be praising and worshipping God, each in their own unique way.

Sadly, however, even in this time of pandemic when we need to turn to one another in care and compassion, some are increasingly turning against one another due to differences of religion, ethnicity, race, national identity and political ideology. Even people who share a common national identity are turning against their compatriots with hatred and violence. This is truly a sin against God’s plan for His creation. As God (Allāh swt) tell us in the Holy Qur’an: “We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes that you may know one another. The most noble among you is the one who is most aware of God.” (al-Ḥujarāt 49.13).

It was in this spirit of universal brotherhood and sisterhood that, in October 2020, Pope Francis issued Fratelli Tutti, his encyclical on fraternity and social friendship. This text was inspired by his meeting with the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Ahmad al-Tayyeb, in Abu Dhabi in 2019, and the Document on Human Fraternity that they issued together.

In his encyclical, Pope Francis again referenced St. Francis’ encounter with the Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil in 1219 as an example of universal fraternity that transcends differences of “origin, nationality, color or religion.” Referring to all good of people of faith as “believers,” he remarked:

We believers need to find occasions to speak with one another and to act together for the common good and the promotion of the poor…We believers are challenged to return to our sources, in order to concentrate on what is essential: worship of God and love for our neighbor, lest some of our teachings, taken out of context, end up feeding forms of contempt, hatred, xenophobia or negation of others (281-2).

It was in this same spirit that Pope Francis recently traveled to the nation of Iraq to meet with political and religious leaders, encouraging all people “to look beyond our differences and see each other as members of the same human family,” and “to speak with one another from our deepest identity as fellow children of the one God and Creator” (Address on March 5, 2021).

On the plains of Ur, from which the Patriarch and Prophet Abraham (upon him be peace!) began his journey of faith, Pope Francis gathered with the representatives of the different religious communities – Sunni, Shi’i, Catholic, Orthodox and others – in recognition of the journey of faith we all share, although we travel by different paths. As Abraham left much behind to answer God’s call, so too are we called “to leave behind those ties and attachments that, by keeping us enclosed in our own groups, prevent us from welcoming God’s boundless love and from seeing others as our brothers and sisters. We need to move beyond ourselves, because we need one another” (Interreligious meeting, March 6, 2021).

Ramadan is a time when we in the Catholic-Franciscan family especially feel our bonds of faith with you, our Muslim brothers and sisters, united by our common practices of prayer, fasting and charity, expressed by a meal shared with others. We are reminded of a hadith reported by ‘Abdullah ibn Amr that is particularly meaningful in our day:

A man asked the Prophet, ‘Which Islam is best?’ The Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, said: ‘To feed the hungry and to greet with peace those you know and those you do not know.’ (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī28)

During this month, this sacred season shared in different ways by so many faithful believers, let us be united by the bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood as the sons and daughters of Abraham, and let us again resolve to be instruments of the Peace that is God – al-Salām.  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

 

JPIC Newsletter: CONTACT (01-03.2021)

Brothers and Sisters,

Fraternal greetings from the brothers of the JPIC Office of the General Curia. We present to you the recent edition of the “Contact” Newsletter that allows us to be in communion and informed of the initiatives to promote and experience the values of JPIC.

In the following pages of “Contact”, we share with you the news that has reached us in recent months: actions, declarations, formative material and projects that are being born following discernment and, above all, from listening to the daily events that constantly invite us to transform our own lives.

DOWNLOAD PDF:

English – CONTACT

Español – CONTACTO

Italiano – CONTATTO

The Message of the Empty Tomb | Easter Letter of the Minister General 2021

The Message of the Empty Tomb

My dear Brothers,

I take this solemn occasion to wish each of you a very blessed and holy Easter!

As we heard in the Easter Gospel from St. John (Cf. Jn 20:1-9), three friends and followers of Jesus had three very different experiences of the event of the empty tomb: Mary of Magdala, Peter, and the famous, Johannine ‘other disciple’. For Mary, she arrives ‘while it is still dark’, one of the central theological themes present in John’s Gospel, the struggle between light (righteousness) and darkness (all that is not of God). There is little doubt that she continues to grieve the loss of her Teacher and friend. This is most probably the reason she has returned to the tomb, to mourn Jesus’ death, and to seek answers to the questions haunting her mind and heart. What she sees, however, provokes a deeper reaction, one of fear, the fear that those with evil intentions have stolen the body of Jesus. It is this, perhaps, that drives her to rush back to the company of the disciples and inform them about what she witnessed.

The ‘other disciple’, “the one whom Jesus loved,” is the second person to arrive at the tomb, rushing ahead of Peter. Perhaps because he (or she) was younger, he waits outside of the tomb, respectfully awaiting the arrival of the senior partner. Only after Peter’s arrival and entry into the tomb did this ‘other disciple’ dare to enter the hallow space. When this ‘other disciple’ finally enters the tomb, something occurs in his life. There is a recognition that God is doing something great in and through Jesus – “he saw, and he believed” – but it was not yet clear just what these events meant, and what difference they would make in his/her life.

Many biblical scholars suggest that this ‘other disciple’ represents each of us who are followers of the risen Lord Jesus. Like this ‘other disciple’, perhaps we also find ourselves at different moments in our lives rushing in search of answers to lifelong questions, ones that have become even more apparent in these times of the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps we, like the ‘other disciple’, have come to perceive in the emptiness, fear, and isolation provoked by the pandemic something different in our lives, our world, something that is calling for a deeper conversion, a greater truth, a more profound justice and peace in order that we might truly ‘see and believe’. In what does this seeing and believing consist? Perhaps, it is the conviction that God is here, hope is near, the love of God in Jesus, a love that extends to all people and all of creation, is stronger than the threat of the pandemic, the threat of illness and death!

The third witness to these events is Peter, the one who denied knowing Jesus during his trial, condemnation, and crucifixion. Perhaps his silence is the result of his feelings of guilt, shame, and total inadequacy. These feelings oftentimes provoke silence. He was but one of the many disciples and friends who had abandoned Jesus at his darkest hour. There is no confession of faith by Peter, as was the case of the ‘other disciple’. Rather, he gathers information and then returns to the “locked room” where he and the other disciples and friends of Jesus took refuge. It is likely that they discussed together what they had seen and heard. However, the emptiness of the tomb, its message, had not yet penetrated the thick, protective shields that Peter, Jesus’ disciples and followers, and that we often construct to protect us from that which we perceive as a danger, a threat, that which provokes fear, confusion, anger, and even despair.

My dear Brothers, it would have been more consoling for me to have spoken about the second part of Chapter 20 of the Gospel of St. John, which, according to many scripture scholars, was added at a later moment almost as if to redeem the impenetrable events of the suffering and death of Jesus by demonstrating to the disciples the living presence of the resurrected body of Jesus. However, I believe this first ‘encounter’ with the empty tomb provides us with an important instrument for reflecting on our lived experience of the COVID-19 pandemic. Clearly, darkness has covered the earth, much like that in the primordial times prior to God bringing order out of chaos (Gn. 1:2). Together with all of humanity, we have experienced the threats of chaos and emptiness provoked by the COVID-19 pandemic. We have found ourselves isolated, devoid of physical contact. We have had to put on ‘shields’ to protect us from the unknown but ever-present lurking danger of an unseen organism capable of doing great harm to us – physically, mentally, spiritually, socially, economically, and in all other ways. As we prepare to be vaccinated in order to protect ourselves, we also recognize that there is still too much unknown about the virus to allow our guards to be let down. The dark night is not yet over.

The message of Easter is one that brings hope and inspires courage to all who profess faith in the beloved Son of God, Jesus. The empty tomb does not provide us with answers. Rather, it creates a space in which we might ask difficult questions. It provides a place where we might come face to face with all that causes us to fear, all that urges us to choose isolation from God, from one another, and even from ourselves in place of choosing pursue paths towards authentic fraternity with God and with one another. In the end, the promise of the resurrection provides us with hope. However, this hope is not only the result of something that comes from outside of us, from belief in the power of God’s grace and love. It is, in the end, the result of a decision we make within our minds and hearts to welcome and embrace the One who has embraced death in order that He might lead all of us toward an authentic experience of what it means to be alive. The resurrection of Jesus presents us with a radical choice — to live daily in the power of God’s love that is stronger than the cruel, enslaving effects of injustice, racism, hatred, violence, and a spiritual wasteland. Or to live in the indifference, fear, and hopelessness offered by all that opposes righteousness, holiness, goodness, and truth.

May the love and peace that Jesus offers to all who place their trust in Him fill us with joy and strengthen us in our resolve to embrace the way of the cross, the way of the Gospel, to embrace even the empty tomb. Like Mary Magdala, the ‘other disciple’, and Peter, may we come to experience what it truly means to be alive in Christ Jesus.

 

Blessings of Easter joy to you, my dear Brothers, and also to you my dear Poor Clare and Conceptionist cloistered Sisters. Let us continue also to pray that God’s loving grace might be poured out upon our General Chapter.

 

Palm Sunday, March 28, 2021

Fraternally yours in Christ and St. Francis,

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

DOWNLOAD PDF:

[English] The Message of the Empty Tomb
[Español] El mensaje de la tumba vacía
[Italiano] Il messaggio della tomba vuota
[Français] Le message de la tombe vide
[Hrvatski] Poruka praznoga groba
[Polski] Przesłanie pustego grobu
[Português] A mensagem do túmulo vazio

 

 

Prot. 110387
Artwork: Fra Angelico, Resurrection of Christ and Women at the Tomb

Global Catholic Climate Movement & JPIC: Common collaboration of faith and actions

In an effort to promote ecological conversion and spread the message of Laudato Si’ in the Church, the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM) has collaborated closely with the Office of Justice and Peace and Integrity of Creation of the Order of Friars Minor General Curia, successfully carrying out several campaigns in recent years. Some of these past collaborations include, to mention a few:

  • World Youth Day in Panama (2019).
  • Animators Training
  • Laudato Si’ Revolution

 

To continue this collaboration in a formal way, the Memorandum of Understanding has been jointly signed, a document that reaffirms their commitment and collaboration of both parties to realize new strategies.

Both organizations maintain an inspiration centered on Gospel values and the vision of St. Francis and Clare of Assisi, as well as a vision that focuses on environmental and social justice, among other common elements.

In addition to the conviction of caring for our common home, they share areas of collaboration that will allow them to strategically advance and identify potential needs for mutual support between the two organizations.

This commitment implies working together to promote effective programs, maintaining constant communication and ongoing training, which will be fundamental elements in this process.

With faith and enthusiasm, we trust that collaborative work will lead us, hand in hand with God, to achieve our common and particular goals thanks to the actions derived from this initiative to care for our common home.

 

Photo: Tomás Insua, GCCM’s Executive Director, and Br. Jaime A. Campos F., JPIC Director

Saint Francis and Dante in Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter “Candor lucis aeternae”

Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter “Candor lucis aeternae“, published 25 March 2021, marking the 700th anniversary of the death of the poet, Dante Alighieri, dedicates a part of the text to Saint Francis of Assisi:

Francis, the spouse of Lady Poverty

In the pure white rose of the blessed, with Mary as its radiant centre, Dante places a number of saints whose life and mission he describes. He presents them as men and women who, in the concrete events of life and despite many trials, achieved the ultimate purpose of their life and vocation. Here I will mention only Saint Francis of Assisi, as portrayed in Canto XI of the Paradiso, the sphere of the wise.

Saint Francis and Dante had much in common. Francis, with his followers, left the cloister and went out among the people, in small towns and the streets of the cities, preaching to them and visiting their homes. Dante made the choice, unusual for that age, to compose his great poem on the afterlife in the vernacular, and to populate his tale with characters both famous and obscure, yet equal in dignity to the rulers of this world. Another feature common to the two was their sensitivity to the beauty and worth of creation as the reflection and imprint of its Creator. We can hardly fail to hear in Dante’s paraphrase of the Our Father an echo of Saint Francis’s Canticle of the Sun:

“Praised be thy name and thine omnipotence

By every creature… ” (Purg. XI, 4-5).

In Canto XI of the Paradiso, this comparison becomes even more pronounced. The sanctity and wisdom of Francis stand out precisely because Dante, gazing from heaven upon the earth, sees the crude vulgarity of those who trust in earthly goods:

“O Thou insensate care of mortal men,

How inconclusive are the syllogisms

That make thee beat thy wings in downward flight!” (1-3).

The entire history of Saint Francis, his “admirable life”, revolved around his privileged relationship with Lady Poverty:

“But that too darkly I may not proceed,

Francis and Poverty for these two lovers

Take thou henceforward in my speech diffuse” (73-75).

The canto of Saint Francis recalls the salient moments of his life, his trials and ultimately the moment when his configuration to Christ, poor and crucified, found its ultimate divine confirmation in his reception of the stigmata:

“And, finding for conversion too unripe

The folk, and not to tarry there in vain,

Returned to fruit of the Italic grass,

On the rude rock ‘twixt Tiber and the Arno

From Christ did he receive the final seal,

Which during two whole years his members bore” (103-108).

 

Read the complete Apostolic Letter: Vatican.va

Laudato Si’: from celebration to action | A Project of the Museum for the United Nations – UN Live

The project “Laudato Si’: from celebration to action” is an initiative by the Museum for the United Nations – UN Live, in partnership with the Colombian Episcopal Conference (CEC) and the Franciscan General Office for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC-OFM). This initiative is inspired by the leadership of Pope Francis, drawing from his message of integral ecology and his platform for the implementation of the Laudato Si’ Goals. Our purpose is to empower ecological spirituality as well as participation and action at the individual and community levels.

We are hoping to meet communities of the Catholic faith in their most sacred celebration: Mass. We have invited Colombian musicians and producers to compose the Laudato Si’ Mass, made up of eleven liturgical songs to be performed during the celebration of the Eucharist.  In addition, an expert in environmental science will design a series of actions targeted towards social and environmental care, driven by the aim to engage followers of this from Mass with its mission, beyond the Mass itself. The mission is to take care of the Creation.

The Museum for the United Nations – UN Live, the CEC and the JPIC-OFM Office hope to reach all six thousand parishes and places of worship in Colombia on the eve of the Day of St. Francis of Assisi, on October 3. The goal is to spread the Laudato Si’ Mass throughout the country and inspire Catholic communities to take concrete actions in the mission of care for Creation. If other organisations in Colombia or throughout the world want to join this celebration, we will go above and beyond this goal. Please do not hesitate to take part.

We hope that this project in Colombia will serve as a pilot to showcase and replicate the Mass in other countries, to share with diverse religious communities, as well as to present to Pope Francis at the Vatican. We hope to find many to join us to move this project forward – all are welcome!

“Joined to the incarnate Son, present in the Eucharist, the whole cosmos gives thanks to God. Indeed, the Eucharist is in itself an act of cosmic love: “Yes, cosmic! Because even when it is celebrated on the humble altar of a country church, the Eucharist is always in some way celebrated on the altar of the world”” (Laudato Si’ 236).

 

Photo: Carlos Alvarado, Cathopic

Cardinal Sandri and Br. Francesco Patton, appeal for generous response to Holy Land Collection

Each year, the Church takes up a collection on Good Friday to assist Christians in the Holy Land and help protect the Holy Places. In a letter addressed to the Bishops of the world, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches is once again appealing to Christians throughout the world to support the annual Holy Land Collection, which takes place each year on Good Friday. (VaticanNews)

In the Holy Land, on the eve of the Solemnity of the Annunciation, the Custos, Br Francesco Patton published this message to appeal to the Christians of the Holy Land:

 

In the past year, even in the Holy Land we have been severely tested by the pandemic that has paralyzed the whole world.

Despite this situation, we have continued to take care of the Holy Places of our redemption and the small Christian community that still exists and endures here.

At the Holy Sepulchre, in Gethsemane, in Bethlehem, in Nazareth and in the other shrines we have intensified our prayers for the whole world.

In the parishes we continue to take care of Arabic, Hebrew and Greek speaking Christians, migrant workers and refugees.

Through our Terra Sancta schools, around 10 thousand children, teenagers and young people are able to benefit from a good education.

The charitable commitment has intensified to meet the essential needs of a very tested local population – not only by the pandemic – but also by war, and by the absence of social and health assistance.

All this has a cost that is largely covered by the Good Friday Collection every year.

This year, more than ever, we need the generosity of Christians around the world, the generosity of each and every one of you.

Please help us again this year, according to your possibilities, according to the generosity of your heart, so that we can continue tohelp those in need.

Help us to help others! May the Lord bless and reward each and every one of you. Thank you!

 

Sources: VaticanNews | Christian Media Center

Video: From “The Earlier Rule” of Saint Francis (1221)

In the midst of the many troubles of our times, sharing in the anguish of so many men and women everywhere in the world, we nevertheless wish to keep the optimistic flame of Christian hope alive and wholeheartedly welcome St. Francis’ impetus to be grateful. Amidst the miseries of the world, he never gave up blessing the Lord, “Who alone is good, merciful, gentle, delightful, and sweet, Who alone is holy, just, true, holy, and upright, Who alone is kind, innocent, clean, from Whom, through Whom and in Whom is all pardon, all grace, all glory” (Earlier Rule 23, 9).

We invite all the members of the Franciscan family to join us in commemorating the invitation of St. Francis, clearly expressed in the Earlier Rule, to live a life guided by the Spirit of God, rooted in human experience and open to the amazing love and closeness that God offers to those who are willing to let Him be at the center of all life.

 

All-powerful, most holy, Almighty and supreme God,
Holy and just Father,
Lord King of heaven and earth,
we thank You for Yourself. (Earlier Rule 23, 1)

 

from the Letter of the Franciscan Ministers General,
 for the Solemnity of St. Francis of Assisi 2020

 

Towards the Laudato Si’ Action Platform

Celebrating the fifth anniversary of the Laudato Si’ Encyclical (24 May 2020), Pope Francis declared a special anniversary year, and the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development presented the proposed “ Laudato Si’ Action Platform” (PDF: EnglishEspañolItaliano). They invited various institutions to get going and start a seven-year journey towards full sustainability. This multi-year initiative aims to make communities around the world fully sustainable in the spirit of Laudato Si’s integral ecology.

As Franciscans, we have joined this great initiative through the JPIC Office. Let us recall that on the fifth anniversary of the Encyclical, the JPIC offices of the Order and the Franciscan Family joined the “Laudato Si’ Revolution” campaign by carrying out various national, regional and international initiatives. Taking advantage of this momentum of the spirit, we wish to take part in the “Laudato Si’ Action Platform”.

During these last few weeks, the JPIC Office has held some engagement and collaboration meetings with the “Care of Creation” section coordinated by Fr Joshtrom Isaac Kureethadam, SDB. In these online meetings, we have been able to share the various initiatives that the Order has been developing in the light of the Encyclical and the Plenary Council of the Order. At the same time, they have shared with us and informed us how the process of the “Laudato Si’ Action Platform” is developing. This has allowed us to join the “Religious Orders Laudato Si’” working team, and we have been invited to be part of the steering committee of the 7-year Laudato Si’ platform.

Also, as a way of collaborating and being part of the “Laudato Si’ Action Platform”, the JPIC Office has started to work on some proposals to offer to the whole Order and the Franciscan Family during Laudato Si’ week on the sixth anniversary of the Encyclical. These proposals complement the campaign begun last year, as it is a new impulse to the work that several Entities in the Order have already started. We look to the future, with hope, to the “Laudato Si’ Revolution: Integral Ecology in Action”.

 

 

Urgent Appeal to the United Nations and the International Community for the situation in Myanmar

His Excellency Mr. António Guterres
Secretary General
United Nations Headquarters
New York, NY  10017
United States

 

Rome, March 12, 2021

Dear Secretary General Guterres,

In the words of St. Francis of Assisi, May the Lord give you peace!

I write to you today in my capacity as the Minister General and Servant of the Order of Friars Minor (Franciscans), some 12,500 Catholic religious brothers and priests present and working in 116 countries, to express deep sadness and grave concern with the ongoing repression of millions of citizens in Myanmar following a military coup.

Our Franciscans in Myanmar have witnessed firsthand the brutality of the security forces and the insecurity this has created. Reports on the ground, and the report of your Special Rapporteur, Mr. Thomas H. Andrews (March 11, 2021) confirm that coordinated violence continues to escalate on a daily basis resulting in the deaths of at least 70 civilians, arbitrary detentions of thousands of those engaged in peaceful protests, destruction of legal protections, severe restrictions on access to internet and communications, and the subversion of the will of the people of Myanmar expressed in the November 2020 elections.

I wish to thank you for the actions that your office has taken to call attention to the situation in Myanmar, especially the work of your Special Envoy to the country. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that now is the time for the international community to act in a united, decisive manner to protect against further loss of life, destruction of property, and to ensure the restoration of the democratically elected government of Myanmar without delay. This should include requiring that the military junta immediately desist from using excessive force against the people of Myanmar, the release of those who are illegally detained, restoration of protections guaranteed by law, including the right to peacefully protest.

Our Franciscan men who are living and working in Myanmar have asked me to intercede for the people of Myanmar. I include in this mailing a letter they have asked me to forward to you.

May the people of Myanmar once again experience a return to democracy, and may the current crisis find a peaceful and lasting resolution.

Sincerely yours,

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

 

 

VIEW PDF:

English

 

Prot. MG 45/21

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