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Koinonia 2021 – 2 (N.110): Saint Joseph, “Shadow of the Father”

Saint Joseph, “Shadow of the Father”

 

We link almost immediately Saint Joseph to the virtues of silence and work, but probably not so immediately to our ideas of husband and father. Yet, he is the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the father of Jesus. This year, the Church commemorates 150 years of the declaration of Saint Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church by Pope Pius IX on December 8, 1870. To mark this recurrence, Pope Francis issued an Apostolic Letter, Patris corde “to increase our love for this great saint, to encourage us to implore his intercession and to imitate his virtues and his zeal”.  This is also our prayer as we offer this short article to the OFS, the Franciscan Youths (YouFra) and their spiritual assistants. We shall articulate this article around the following three themes: Being the shadow of the Father, the vocation of a father and, Saint Joseph and formation.

 

  • Koinonia 2021-2Saint Joseph, “Shadow of the Father”

N. 110

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Message of the Holy Father to the participants of the General Chapter of the Order of Friars Minor

Dear Brothers!

I greet all of you who are participating in the General Chapter of the Order of Friars Minor with affection. My grateful thoughts go to Fr Michael A. Perry, who has concluded his service as Minister General, and I offer my best wishes to Fr Massimo Giovanni Fusarelli, who has been called to succeed him. I extend my greetings to all your communities throughout the world.

Because of the pandemic, we have found ourselves living in emergency situations of isolation and suffering for many months now. On the one hand, this critical experience encourages all of us to recognise how much our earthly life is a journey to be made as pilgrims and strangers, itinerant men and women, ready to lighten our load of personal goods and demands. On the other hand, it is a favourable opportunity to intensify our relationship with Christ and with our brothers and sisters: I am thinking of your communities, called to be a humble prophetic presence in the midst of God’s people and a witness to fraternity and a simple and joyful life for all.

In these difficult and complex times, when there is a risk of being “paralysed”, you are nevertheless experiencing the grace of celebrating your Ordinary General Chapter, which is already a reason to praise and thank God. In this Chapter, you propose to “renew your vision” and “embrace your future”. You are guided by the words of St Paul: “Arise… and Christ will give you light” (Eph 5:14). It is a word of resurrection, which roots you in the Paschal dynamic because there is no renewal, and there is no future except in the risen Christ. With gratitude, therefore, you open yourselves to welcome the signs of God’s presence and action and to rediscover the gift of your charism and your fraternal and minor identity.

Renewing one’s vision: this is what happened to the young Francis of Assisi. He himself attests to it, recounting the experience that he places at the beginning of his conversion in his Testament: the encounter with the lepers, when “what was bitter was changed into sweetness of soul and body” (Test 1-4). At the roots of your spirituality is this encounter with the least and the suffering, in the sign of “doing mercy”. God touched the heart of Francis through the mercy offered to his brother, and he continues to touch our hearts through the encounter with others, especially those most in need. The renewal of your vision can only start from this new gaze with which to contemplate the poor and marginalised brother or sister, a sign, almost a sacrament of the presence of God.

From this renewed gaze, from this concrete experience of encounter with our neighbour and with his wounds, can come a renewed energy to look to the future as brothers and as minors, as you are, according to the beautiful name of “friars minor”, which St Francis chose for himself and for you.

The renewing strength you need comes from the Spirit of God, from that “holy operation” (Regula Bullata 10, 8) which is the unmistakable sign of his action. That Spirit, who transformed the bitterness of Francis’ encounter with the lepers into sweetness of soul and body, is still at work today to give new freshness and energy to each one of you if you allow yourselves to be stirred by the least of our time. I encourage you to go out to meet the men and women who suffer in soul and body, to offer your humble and fraternal presence, without grand speeches, but making your closeness as lesser brothers felt. To go towards a wounded creation, our common home, which suffers from a distorted exploitation of the earth’s goods for the enrichment of a few while creating conditions of misery for many. To go as men of dialogue, seeking to build bridges instead of walls, offering the gift of fraternity and social friendship in a world that is struggling to find the path of a common vision. To go forth as men of peace and reconciliation, inviting those who sow hatred, division and violence to conversion of heart, and offering the victims the hope that comes from truth, justice and forgiveness. From these encounters, you will receive an impetus to live the Gospel ever more fully, according to that word which is your way: “The Rule and Life of the Lesser Brothers is this: to observe the Holy Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ” (Regula Bullata 1,1).

As much of the Order faces the challenges of declining numbers and ageing, do not let anxiety and fear prevent you from opening your hearts and minds to the renewal and revitalisation that the Spirit of God brings about in you and among you. You have a spiritual heritage of inestimable riches, rooted in the Gospel life and marked by prayer, fraternity, poverty, minority and itinerancy. Do not forget that we receive a renewed gaze, which can open us to God’s future, from our closeness to the poor, the victims of modern slavery, the refugees and the excluded of this world. They are your teachers. Embrace them as St Francis did!

Dear brothers, may the Most High, Almighty, Good Lord make you ever more credible and joyful witnesses of the Gospel; may he grant you to lead a simple and fraternal life; and may he lead you on the paths of the world to sow the seed of the Good News with faith and hope. For this, I pray and accompany you with my Blessing. And please do not forget to pray for me too.

Rome, Saint John Lateran, 15 July 2021

 

FRANCIS

Responding to the Invitation of the Holy Spirit as Lesser Brothers in the Church and World | Final Message of The General Chapter 2021

 

 

‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord… ‘to give you a future with hope.’ (Jeremiah 29:11)

 

  1. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we, your brothers, more than one-hundred friars from around the world, gathered at the Capuchin Franciscan Collegio Internazionale San Lorenzo da Brindisi in Rome for the 2021 General Chapter of the Order of Friars Minor. While every gathering of the brothers is an opportunity for rejoicing, this General Chapter was a particularly joyful occasion and a sign of hope.
  2. Despite the manifold challenges that face the church and world today, we friars minor recognize that there are also opportunities amid the difficulties. Over the course of the fifteen days of this condensed General Chapter, many of the themes and good work that began at the 2018 Plenary Council of the Order (PCO) in Nairobi were carried forward and developed. The major theme of the PCO was ‘listening’ to what the Holy Spirit was saying to the Order today. In response to that attentive listening, we friars recognized a number of invitations that God was extending to us in the church and world.
  3. We wish to communicate to our brothers throughout the Order some of these invitations and encourage one another in a spirit of fraternal solidarity to take up the invitations that the Holy Spirit presents to us with eagerness, humility, and passion.

 

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Br. Massimo Fusarelli, new OFM Minister General

On Tuesday, 13 July 2021, at Collegio Internationale San Lorenzo da Brindisi (Rome), His Eminence, Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, who was appointed by His Holiness Pope Francis, to serve as Cardinal Delegate at the OFM General Chapter 2021, announced with joy that

BR. MASSIMO FUSARELLI

is elected as the new OFM Minister General for 2021- 2027

 

 

Born in Rome on March 30, 1963, he received the Franciscan habit on July 28, 1982 and professed first vows on July 30, 1983.  He professed solemn vows on January 8, 1989 and was ordained a priest on September 30, 1989.

After theology studies at the Antonianum in Rome, he obtained a Licentiate in Patristic Studies at the Augustinianum in Rome.

He was Provincial Definitor, Animator of the pastoral care of vocations and then of ongoing formation; General Secretary of Formation and Studies from 2003 to 2009; General Visitor for the Province of Naples and then for the unification process of the Provinces of Northern Italy; He was elected Provincial Minister of the Province St. Bonaventure (Lazio and Abruzzo) on July 2, 2020.

Br, Massimo was elected as the 121st successor of St Francis.

May the Holy Spirit guard and guide Br. Massimo in the service of the brothers of the Order and of the whole Church.

 

JPIC Newsletter: CONTACT (04-06.2021)

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.

Br. Angelito Cortez, OFM
Br. Jaime Campos, OFM
JPIC Office

 

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Celebration of the Eighth Centenary of the Regula non bullata at Fonte Colombo

On 21 June 2021, the website Frontiera Rieti reported that the Franciscan friars gathered at Fonte Colombo to celebrate the eighth centenary of the Regula non bullata:

A return to the source for the Franciscan world. And the source is the forma vitæ that St Francis wrote here in the Rieti valley. The year 2023 will be a significant milestone when Franciscans will celebrate the eighth centenary of the Regula Bullata and the crib. A series of other Franciscan events marking eight centuries will also take place (in 2024, the stigmata at La Verna, in 2025, the Canticle of the Creatures, in 2026, the death of the saint). This pilgrimage organised by the Friars Minor of central Italy was created to commemorate the eight hundred years of the earlier Rule composed by St Francis: the one that was not bullata, in the sense that it was not submitted for papal approval. Yet the Poverello of Assisi spoke with Honorius III, as he did with his predecessor Innocent III who had already approved his spiritual experience in oral form. And Pope Honorius was often in Rieti at that time.

On Tuesday, the Friars Minor of four Italian provinces (Lazio-Abruzzo, Umbria, Tuscany and Marche) made a pilgrimage to Rieti, which the saint passed through in 1221, and then to Fonte Colombo where, two years later, he would write the definitive “constitution” of the order. The invitation was also extended to the other Franciscans (Capuchins and Conventuals) present in the diocese (at Leonessa and San Rufo) and the Friars Minor from Puglia working in Accumoli. The Minister General of the Order, Brother Michael Perry, also arrived from the General Curia in Rome.

For the full text (in Italian): www.frontierarieti.com

The Holy Father has appointed Cardinal João Braz de Aviz his Delegate to preside over the election of the Minister General

Rome, June 8, 2021

The Minister General communicates that the Holy Father has appointed

 

His Eminence Cardinal

João Braz de Aviz

 

as his Delegate to preside over the election of the Minister General on 13 July 2021.

We in the whole Order regard His Eminence as our “Protector” from this moment on and pray for him and for the Chapter.

 

 

Cardinal João Braz de Aviz

Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, was born on 24 April 1947 in Mafra, Brazil.

He was ordained a priest on 26 November 1972 for the Diocese of Apucurana. He holds a licence in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University and doctorate in dogmatic theology from the Pontifical Lateran University.

On 6 April 1994, he was appointed titular bishop of Flenucleta and Auxiliary of the Archdiocese of Vitória. He received episcopal ordination on 31 May 1994.

On 12 August 1998, he transferred to Ponta Grossa and on 17 July 2002 he was elevated Archbishop of Maringá.

On 28 January 2004, he was appointed Archbishop of Brasília, where in 2010 he organized the XVI Eucharistic National Congress.

He was appointed Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life on 4 January 2011.

He participated in the conclave of March 2013, which elected Pope Francis.

Created and proclaimed Cardinal by Benedict XVI in the consistory of 18 February 2012, of the Deaconry of S. Elena fuori Porta Prenestina (St. Helena outside Prenestina Gate).

General Chapter 2021

 

From 3 to 18 July 2021, the General Chapter of the Order of Friars Minor will be held in Rome, with the theme of Renewing Our Vision, Embracing Our Future.

The 118 Capitulars who are expected at this celebration of our worldwide brotherhood will gather at the Capuchin International College of St Lawrence of Brindisi, which is located around halfway between Leonardo Da Vinci Airport in Fiumicino, and the historical centre of Rome.

This upcoming historic 15-day General Chapter in Rome promises to be a special one in more ways than one. In the present uncertain times in our world, we Friars Minor give thanks for the gift of Faith and Fraternity that are certain, for experiences of Goodness and Beauty that are all around, and for Hope that springs eternal in the human heart. Let us pray for our Capitulars and our entire Order, that we may respond joyfully to the exhortation of the Epistle to the Ephesians, “Arise…and Christ will give you Light” (Ep. 5:14).

For all General Chapter 2021 information, visit: http://ofmcapgen2021.org/en/

Archbishop Vittorio Francesco Viola OFM Appointed Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments

The Holy Father has appointed as Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments Bishop Vittorio Francesco Viola, OFM, until now Bishop of Tortona, conferring on him at the same time the title of Archbishop-Bishop Emeritus of Tortona.

Vittorio Francesco Viola, OFM, was born in Biella (Italy) on 4th October 1965. After graduating from high school, he entered the Order of Friars Minor of Umbria and attended the Theological Institute of Assisi, where he completed his fifth year of theology. He then attended the Pontifical Liturgical Institute of Sant’Anselmo in Rome, where he obtained his Licentiate and then his Doctorate in Sacred Liturgy on 19 February 2000.

He made his solemn profession in the Order of Friars Minor of Umbria on 14 September 1991, in Santa Maria degli Angeli. He was ordained priest on 3 July 1993 and ordained a bishop on December 7, 2014.

 

Vatican News: Cardinal Tagle, Minister General celebrate Laudato Si’ week from General Curia

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Fr. Augusto Zampini and Fr. Michael Perry gathered for the prayer meeting organized in Rome by the Global Catholic Climate Movement to mark the Laudato Si’ week celebrations. The meeting took place simultaneously in Assisi with Bishop Domenico Sorrentino and via web, entrusting the mandate to spread the Gospel of Creation and care for our common home to Laudato Si’ animators, young people, pastoral workers and faithful in general.

“In the mission of the Church every baptized person has received a gift from the Holy Spirit that must be developed by participating in the mission itself”, and as regards Laudato Si’, this “is the care for our common home.” The words of Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, on Sunday in speaking to Vatican News on the missionary mandate entrusted to Laudato Si’ animators of the Global Catholic Climate Movement, pastoral workers, young people and all people of good will. Pope Francis had announced this a few hours earlier at the Regina Coeli, when he spoke of the “mandate to spread the Gospel of Creation and to care for our common home.”

The prayer meeting

Monday marks the sixth anniversary of Pope Francis’ encyclical on caring for our common home, published on May 24, 2015. During Laudato Si’ Week, a time marking the conclusion of the special Year called by the Pope as a way to reflect on and put into practice points in the document. Cardinal Tagle led the prayer meeting at the General Curia of the Friars Minor in Rome on Pentecost Sunday, the time we celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit inaugurating the Church’s mission.

Rome, Assisi and the five continents

The celebration, followed via web throughout the world, began with remarks by Bishop Domenico Sorrentino of Assisi in a video link-up with the Shrine of Saint Dominic in the Umbrian town. He explained that this is the place where Saint Francis “began to build his house”, opening his heart and responding to the Lord’s call to “mission, action, taking initiative”. He said today “you are the missionaries: go and repair our common home”, addressing the animators present and those watching from the five continents. Executive Director of the Global Catholic Climate Movement, Tomás Insua, coordinated the event

A proclamation for all time

In his remarks, Cardinal Tagle noted that at Pentecost “we know that the Risen Christ continues to be with us”. The Archbishop Emeritus of Manila spoke inviting all to “be witnesses of His truth to the world”, even and especially at this time of crisis due to the pandemic. To experience Christ, he continued, “is to know that Jesus accompanies us”, as He did with his disciples. Mission, he added is a “lifelong call”, a “proclamation for all time”, and means to “accompany others”.

A Church always reaching out

Father Augusto Zampini, adjunct secretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and a member of the Vatican Covid-19 Commission echoed Cardinal Tagle by saying “the Gospel of Creation is linked to a Church that is reaching out…that takes care of our common home and others in every part of the planet. This is the beauty of the missionary dimension: to bring the Gospel message and Laudato Si’ on caring for our common home and others, to every part of the world”, in every sector of society, recalling also how the Pope calls for “a profound change in the economy, which is ill because it causes inequalities, social diseases, conflicts and damage to creation” Father Zampini added.

A beacon of light

The “yes” to the missionary mandate came from animators from Rio de Janerio, Nairobi, Washington, Rome and Assisi, an acceptance of responsibility to “hear the cry of the Earth and of the poor”, the unfortunate victims of suffering and deprivation in India as well as in Brazil, whom Father Michael Perry, Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor, recalled in his talk: “they are people who really carry the Cross” and to whom “we must give an opportunity”, with a view towards fraternity and the missionary mandate. The final commitment taken is to express everywhere “kindness, love and humility” in order to be, as Cardinal Tagle underscored when lighting a candle together with the participants, “a beacon of light in the life of the Church and the world”.

 

Text: Giada Aquilino | VaticanNews.va

The San Bernardino Institute of Ecumenical Studies in Venice, Italy

The San Bernardino Institute of Ecumenical Studies (ISE) in Venice (Italy) has been offering training courses on the life and theology of the various Christian confessions, on the history of the ecumenical movement and its reflection for over thirty years, with a strong focus also on interreligious and Christian-Jewish dialogue. The consolidated experience of an interfaith teaching body, the rich library and the rich journal Ecumenical Studies offer important opportunities for study in these areas. The teaching language is Italian.

 

As a section of the Faculty of Theology of Pontifical University “Antonianum” in Rome, ISE offers:

  • a two-year Licentiate course, with courses concentrated in 3 days a week, for the achievement of the diploma in Theology with specialization in ecumenical studies, which opens the way to the doctorate;
  • two annual Masters, respectively in Interreligious Dialogue and Ecumenical Theology, which can also be attended online, open to those who have no previous theological training;
  • Seminars and events – online and face to face – at different times of the year on the themes of ecumenism and interreligious dialogue, but also on the great current questions of the churches.

 

The Institute gives students and professors from various parts of the world the opportunity to live together in the Friary of S. Francesco della Vigna in Venice during the period of school, and to cultivate mutual knowledge and interpersonal relationships, so important for ecumenism.

Venerable Servant of God Antonietta Lesino

On 22 May 2021, the Holy Father Francis received His Eminence Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. During the audience, the Supreme Pontiff authorised the Congregation to promulgate the Decree concerning the heroic virtues of the Servant of God Antonietta Lesino, of the Institute of the Little Franciscan Family, who was born in Milan on 11 October 1897 and died in Brescia on 24 February 1962.

The Venerable Antonietta Lesino, a worker in Milan, professed the rule of the Franciscan Third Order in 1926. In1932 she consecrated herself in the “Little Franciscan Family”, a secular institute founded by the Servant of God Father Ireneo Mazzotti, OFM. Gifted with a distinctly contemplative nature, she fully lived the charism outlined by their co-foundress, Vincenza Stroppa, who was a schoolteacher: “To live the life of union with God, in the cell of the soul, in the midst of the world“. She spent some years with the Poor Clares of the monastery of Trevi in Umbria (1945-1950) and was enriched by the experience of prayer and fraternity of the daughters of St Clare. She spent the rest of her life in Ome (Brescia), where she was entrusted with the care of the Franciscan Cenacle “Maria Assunta”, the Mother House of the Institute. Here she exercised great dedication in welcoming the numerous sisters who came for retreats. In Ome, as she had done since her youth, she did her best to help those in need. She visited and comforted the sick and, as an expert nurse, provided the necessary care. She was therefore appreciated by the entire population, who admired her great goodness. She died suddenly when she was hit by a car on 24 February 1962 in Brescia, where she had gone to assist a sick sister. Her Cause of beatification began in 1969, with the Rev. Fr Antonio Cairoli, OFM, as Postulator General.

 

 

 

 

All were filled with the Holy Spirit | Letter from the Minister General to the whole Order on the Solemnity of Pentecost 2021

 Letter from the Minister General to the whole Order on the Solemnity of Pentecost 2021

 

All were filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-12)

 

Dear Brothers,

May the Lord give you peace!

Tradition has always dictated that the General Chapter of the Order coincide with the Feast of Pentecost, in accordance with the wish expressed by St. Francis himself in texts such as the Earlier Rule (cf. ER 18, 2), and reiterated in the Later Rule: “When he [the General Minister] dies, let the election of his successor be made by the provincial ministers and custodians in the Chapter of Pentecost, at which all the provincial ministers are bound to assemble in whatever place the general minister may have designated.” (LR 8, 2) This year, for reasons that we all know too well, we have been forced to postpone this important event to the month of July, hoping that government regulations and requirements will allow it to take place then.

Dear brothers, I would not like to miss the opportunity to address you all on the Solemnity of Pentecost, to share with you what this liturgical celebration inspires in my heart. At the same time, I want to hand over to the Lord, and to all of you, the many blessings that I have experienced during my years of service as Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor (Cf. ER 17, 17-18). I would like this restitution to be expressed through my profound and heartfelt gratitude to the entire Order, to the Poor Clares and Conceptionists, and to the wider Franciscan Family, for the ways in which you have helped me to see how the gift of fraternity is a powerful and effective means of listening to the voice of God and fulfilling what is asked of us with fidelity, perseverance, and love.

The profound relationship that the Poverello of Assisi cultivated with the person of the Holy Spirit is deeply inspiring. This can be seen from the frequency with which the third person of the Holy Trinity is mentioned both in the Saint’s writings and in the hagiographical sources. (Cf. ER 17,14; LR 10, 8-10; 2LtF 10,48; LM 9,3, etc.). Francis felt the outpouring and the presence of the Spirit so closely that he attributed the guidance and direction of the Order to the Holy Spirit, calling the Spirit the Minister of the Order. As Thomas of Celano tells us: “’With God,’ [Francis] would say, ‘there is no partiality, and the Holy Spirit, the general minister of the religion, rests equally upon the poor and simple.’ He really wanted to put these words in the Rule, but the papal seal already given to the rule precluded it.” (2C 145).

I am particularly struck by this observation of the biographer because, in a certain sense, it provides a revealing link to the scene described in the Acts of the Apostles which is one of the prescribed texts for the Solemnity of Pentecost: “Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.” (cf. Acts 2:2) The word “all“, which appears six times, is key to our appreciation of the author’s intention to indicate an all-embracing experience: all of the house (v.2); all were filled with the Holy Spirit (v.4); all the nations (v.5); all those who are not Galileans (v.7); we heard them all speak (v.11); they were all amazed (v.12). Moreover, the word “each” is repeated three times, confirming this powerful idea of inclusion and the desire for the widest possible participation in the experience of the Spirit. Francis, on his part, considers the outpouring of the Spirit a blessing for all because… “with God there is no partiality.” (2 Cel 145)

I would like to consider this idea further because during my time of service as Minister General I have been able to see that we must continue to work tirelessly to combat what Pope Francis in his encyclical Laudato Si’ calls the throwaway culture.  This is directly connected with another theme expressed by the phrase ‘the globalization of indifference’ (cf. Message of the Holy Father Francis for the Celebration of the 49th World Day of Peace, January 1st, 2016). These phenomena arise from and promote racism, xenophobia, and the emergence of populist figures who proclaim that these are messianic times when society as it ‘should be’ can be established. Such a way of thinking worries me deeply, because it slowly enters in and begins to take over, like weeds among the wheat (cf. Mt 13:24-52). It dramatically fragments not only the political environment of our countries but threatens the integrity of our societies and families. It even comes knocking on the doors of some of our local fraternities.

The passage from the Acts of the Apostles that narrates the extraordinary action of the Spirit clearly sheds light on this reality because the event takes place in circumstances that are extraordinarily varied — full of diversity, differences, nuances, and ways of being that do not admit of uniformity. It is a situation characterized by pluralism, variety, and movement (a noise like a strong driving wind, v. 2). Nothing is still, everything is in motion, something is happening, someone is coming. All those filled with the Holy Spirit began to express …. what the Spirit was giving them (cf. v. 4).

The Pentecost event, in addition to suggesting the characteristic scenario of Old Testament theophanies, is also linked to other moments in which an important person is assisted in a special way by the Spirit (e.g., John the Baptist, Lk 1:15; Elizabeth, Lk 1:41; Zechariah Lk 1:67; Peter, Acts 4:8; Saul, Acts 9:17, 13:9). However, the fullness of the Spirit that the Apostles experience in Acts 2:4 is characterized by a remarkable feature. Pentecost marks the beginning of the time of the Church, a new way that had already been proclaimed by Jesus, in which he would be present among his followers every day until the end of the world (cf. Mt 28:16-20). The action performed by the Holy Spirit, that is, the tongues of fire that “divided” and “rested” on each one, immediately makes us think of the “charismatic” gift that the Apostles received to carry out their preaching and mission. Fire, the symbol par excellence of the divine presence, indicates God’s desire to envelop — almost to invade — the entire community present, succeeding in driving out every shadow of fear and giving an inner strength capable of transforming the hearts of those present, thus creating authentic communion.

Pope Francis says: “When we are healthy and comfortable, we forget about others (something God the Father never does): we are unconcerned with their problems, their sufferings and the injustices they endure… Our heart grows cold. As long as I am relatively healthy and comfortable, I don’t think about those less well off.” (Ibid. Message for 49th World Day of Peace). Following the horrific murder of George Floyd in Minnesota, USA on May 20th, 2020, a wave of reaction came to prominence in many parts of the world. It led to public protests stretching from Minneapolis (USA) to Manaus (Brazil), from New York to Johannesburg, from Paris to Jakarta. Unfortunately, we have to recognise that systematic racism, classism, the caste system, and other kinds of exclusion are also present in our Order and Church.

I have been able to read some testimonies that have been sent to me by friars in which they speak about their experiences of racism or exclusion within society and within the Order itself. They recount moments of intense humiliation, a sense of betrayal, and a deep rupture in the fabric of fraternal communion. The stories told by our brothers also reveal the reality that too many of us are willing to turn a blind eye to situations of direct or indirect violations of human dignity. The Feast of Pentecost that we celebrate today challenges us with radical demands. It calls us to “wake up” to the realities around and within us, to be more aware of those structures and events that express attitudes directly contrary to our human, Christian, and Franciscan vocation. The Spirit urges us to undergo a radical conversion of mind, heart, and action (cf. Eph 4:23-32) and to embrace God’s vision for all of humanity and the created universe. Pentecost reminds us that all are welcome, all are respected, all are invited to offer their unique and distinct contributions, all share the same dignity and destiny. The gift of the Spirit is “a blessing to all because… with God there is no partiality!”

I believe, my dear brothers, that celebrating Pentecost should encourage us to have experiences that shake the foundations of our security and drive away any internal fears we may have about always reaching out to others. Pentecost should help open our eyes (cf. Lk 24: 13-35) to appreciate the richness of diversity, to delight in the wonderful variety of forms, colours, ways, mentalities, approaches, opinions, and perspectives. If we are still afraid of stepping out of our comfort zones, or of creating spaces where we can participate in different ways of seeing, of appreciating, and of judging, then now is the time to be open to “the Spirit of the Lord and Its holy activity” (cf. LR 10, 8).

Let us continue to pray for our forthcoming General Chapter, that the Spirit of the Lord, the true Minister General of the Order, may grant us a time of grace and inspiration for the good of the Order, the Church, and the world that we inhabit.

Happy Feast of Pentecost!

 

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

 

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Prot. 110456
Artwork: Giotto, Pentecost, Scrovegni Chapel, Padua, Italy

 

Franciscans join Vatican’s Laudato Si’ Week

With the slogan, “we know that things can change” (LS 13), a new version of Laudato Si’ Week will be celebrated between May 16 and 24, 2021, to commemorate once again the anniversary of the publication of this encyclical.

Laudato Si’ Week is an initiative sponsored by the Vatican, through the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and promoted by the World Catholic Movement for Climate with whom we collaborate closely. This year we celebrate the VI Anniversary of the Encyclical and the closing of a special year of Laudato Si’, a time that has been marked by reflection, discernment and actions in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. By celebrating Laudato Si’ Week, we renew our commitment as Franciscans to social and environmental justice, care and respect for creation, and intergenerational solidarity.

We extend the invitation to participate in Laudato Si’ Week to all the fraternities of the Order through the JPIC Offices of each entity and to the Franciscan Family.  The following are the initiatives that will be carried out or will be presented during the week of May 16 through 24:

 

Thursday, May 20th

Prayer Network for the Care of Creation

This network is made up of congregations and religious orders from various countries that wish to pray and intercede for a world more similar to the Creator’s dream. Several monasteries of Poor Clare Sisters have joined. You can register your fraternity here: https://laudatosipray.org/

 

Saturday 22

Laudato Si’ Festival, “Songs for Creation”

This cultural festival will address the issue of the loss of biodiversity in the world. An online event that will be broadcast from the terrace of our General Curia in Rome. Among the guests is Fr. Sandesh Manuel, OFM who composed “rap Laudato Si’ Revolution” and “Listen to the wind.” Follow this event on facebook.com/ofm.org.

 

Sunday 23

Pentecost, prayer meeting

A missionary dispatch will be carried out for all Laudato Si’ animators and agents of evangelization. The liturgy will be presided over by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and will have the participation of the Bishop of Assisi, Bishop Domenico Sorrentino. It will be broadcast live from the Sanctuary of San Damiano in Assisi and from the General Curia in Rome. Follow this event on facebook.com/ofm.org.

 

Tuesday 25

Presentation of the Laudato Si’ Platform for Action and the Laudato Si’ Goals

As part of the multi-year plan proposed last year, the first steps of this ambitious 7-year project will be revealed. The plan seeks to unleash processes that will make communities around the world fully sustainable in the spirit of the holistic ecology of Laudato Si. As Franciscans we are already involved in this path together with other organizations of the Church.

 

We invite you to join in and share. You can register your activities and see the calendar of all events on the official website of Laudato Si’ Week: https://laudatosiweek.org/

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.

Oldalak