The following descriptions summarize news from the English-speaking Conference of the Order of Friars Minor, which comprises provinces and custodies from Canada, England, Ireland, Lithuania, Malta, and the United States. Follow the ESC on Facebook for up-to-date information throughout the month. The February ESC round-up included news about an interim provincial chapter in Lithuania, a Chapter of Mats in Malta, and the appointment of a Jamaica missionary to the Order’s Executive Committee for Missions and Evangelization.
► The path toward unity and the formation of the new Franciscan province of the Canadian provinces of St. Joseph Province in eastern Canada and Christ the King Province in the West of Canada will be the subject of a documentary. Salt & Light Television followed the provinces during the unification process as they establish the new Holy Spirit Province. The production team accompanied friars at parishes, fraternities, and ministries to capture the essence of the Franciscan charism. With an emphasis on the history of the Franciscans, the hour-long documentary includes several testimonials from friars, as well as individuals who benefit from the Franciscan presence in their lives. The trailer of the documentary can be viewed online.
► The Sarah Center at St. Anthony Center in Cincinnati has recruited five volunteer tailors who are being trained in sewing religious habits, according to Lois Shegog, the center’s director. “I had retired a few months prior and was looking for a volunteer opportunity,” Judy Melish said of responding to a bulletin notice. Those wishing to place an order or request repairs for a Franciscan friar’s habit in brown or missionary white may contact the Sarah Center via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and write “habit-making” in the subject field. Donations to offset the expenses of fabric, thread and sewing supplies can be made online.
► The missionary friars of the Immaculate Conception Province gathered for their annual retreat in January, which was held this year in El Salvador in the “Isaac Calicchio” reception hall at the Association AGAPE. Fr. Henry Gonzalez, OFM, a Provincial councilor of the Guadalupe Province for Central America and Haiti who gave the retreat, spoke of the encounter we need to have with the Lord in order to enter into a dialogue with God and our brothers in religion.
► In February, the Sacred Heart Province friars working in Galena, Alaska, traveled to Fairbanks for a respite from their ministries. While there, they attended the annual “Convocation for Priests” in Anchorage, which included priests from the three Alaskan dioceses of Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau. The friars later gathered for a March 2 regional meeting in Galena with the leaders and volunteers of all village parishes, where they discussed pastoral planning.
► In Mexico, a group of nearly 50 people gathered in the Fatima neighborhood of Guaymas on the morning of Feb. 22 for the grand opening of the Denise Nagel Youth Center. The mayor of Guaymas and other city officials presided at a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Fr. Tommy King, OFM, of the St. Barbara Province, was on hand to share the history of Casa Franciscana’s efforts in the community to help at-risk youth from falling prey to gangs and other illicit activity. Casa Franciscana board members raised money to fund the new youth center, which is staffed by volunteers and offers computer classes, homework assistance, sports programs, and individual and group counseling.
► In the Southwest, friars from across Arizona met on Feb. 18 at the Ite Nuntiate fraternity in Elfrida for a day of recollection. They were joined by Juan Turcios, OFM, who was visiting Elfrida to explore a short-term ministry opportunity. Friar Matthias Creehan, OFM, led the group in a discussion of the summary of the latest US-6 provincials meeting and the Albuquerque Affirmation. A chili lunch made by Br. David Buer, OFM, was enjoyed by all participants.
► Friars, parishioners, and friends of the Franciscan Renewal Center and the Conventual Church of Our Lady of the Angels gathered at the Scottsdale, Az., site on March 3 for the blessing of the newly installed Stations of the Cross. The stations are now situated in the desert walk area, a tranquil outdoor setting near the meditation chapel that’s suitable for the contemplative nature of devotional prayer. The stations are open to the public year- round.
► A trio of Immaculate Conception Province novices, Brothers Jack Sidoti, OFM, Carl Green, OFM, and Dan Cavalieri, OFM, are making their novitiate with the Assisi Province novices at the Santuario di San Damiano in Assisi. During the past few months, the group of novices took a day trip to the IC house in Rome and visited St. Peter’s Basilica. They also participated in a four-day workshop on Consecrated Life and later went to the hermitage of San Francesco in Monteluco for a silent retreat.
► A recently released feature-length film, titled Sign of Contradiction, includes commentary by Fr. Michael J. Higgins, TOR, president of the Franciscan School of Theology. Produced by the Ministry of the Wild Goose and 4PM Media, the film also involves Friar Dave Pivonka, TOR, Friar Raniero Cantalmessa, OFM Cap., and Sr. Katherine Caldwell, TOR. Information can be found at https://www.signofcontradiction.com. The trailer can be viewed at https://thewildgooseisloose.com/sign-ofcontradiction.
► In Ireland, the friars of the Franciscan friary at Athlone spent three days of prayer and reflection on the life of St. Oscar Romero. Prior to the screening of a movie on the life of the recently canonized saint, speakers discussed climate justice and St. Romero during the March 22 to 24 gathering.
► In Kretinga, Lithuania, the annual meeting of the Franciscan Youth took place from March 9 to 11. This annual event drew large contingents of the Franciscan family, with 83 participants from Lithuania and attendees from Poland, Ukraine, and Azerbaijan.
– Br. Jim is communications assistant for the HNP Communications Office and webmaster for the US Franciscans.
- “Sheltering Fire Victims and Other ESC News,” – Jan. 9, 2019, HNP Today
- “Canadian Provinces Unify During Historic Chapter” – Oct. 30, 2018, HNP Today
- “US-6 Councils Meet in St. Louis, Other ESC News” – Aug. 21, 2018, HNP Today
- “Three HNP Friars Join National Conversation to Discuss New Forms of Franciscan Life” – April 21, 2017, HNP Today