Curia Update: Friar Leads Retreat for Pope Francis, Other News

Maria Hayes Franciscan World

Giulio Michelini and Pope Francis at a Lenten retreat (Photo courtesy of

The following updates summarize news from the Order of Friars Minor. Additional details can be found by visiting the links to the news items mentioned. Follow the Order of Friars Minor on Facebook and Twitter for up-to-date information throughout the month.

Fr. Giulio Michelini, OFM, led a Lenten retreat for Pope Francis and the Roman Curia earlier this month. The retreat, held at the Casa Divin Maestro retreat center in Ariccia, Rome, began on March 5 and concluded March 10. Br. Giulio, who teaches at the Theological Institute of Assisi, led meditations on the Gospel of Matthew’s passion, death and resurrection. The pope thanked Br. Giulio for being “normal” and “natural” despite his many responsibilities, and for preparing the retreat. “I thank you for this, and hope that you will continue to work for the Church, in the Church, in exegesis, in the many things the Church entrusts to you,” said the pope. “But above all, I hope you will be a good friar.” The pope’s full remarks are available on the Order’s website.

The Order has launched a newly redesigned website with a clean look and a simpler navigation. “We invite you to begin exploring the different pages and hope that you enjoy visiting the site,” said the website’s staff. “We have tried to make all previous links active; however, due to the significant changes in the website’s architecture, there may be digital hiccups that you may experience along the way. This is where we need your help. Please email us at if you see a broken link or feel that something should be changed. It is our hope that this website is just the beginning of better communications within our Order, as well as from our Order to the world. We promise to continually keep you updated with the latest information, so check back often and connect with us on social media.”

Russel Murray and Michael Calabria, along other members of  the Commission for Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue (Photo courtesy of

► The Order’s Commission for the Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue, of which Michael Calabria, OFM, and Russel Murray, OFM, are members, met at the General Curia from Feb. 13 to 17. “The Commission met to establish its agenda of activities and projects for the present sexennium, in support of the Order’s General Constitutions (a. 95, §§1-2) and Ratio Studiorum (aa. 70-74). The commission’s projects will include “the development of pastoral and preaching aids and of materials and programs designed to educate brothers of the Order and the faithful we serve about the practical significance of Ecumenism and interreligious dialogue for our evangelical mission, particularly with regard to JPIC,” according to the Order. This was the first meeting of the commission, which was organized by Russel, who is general animator for evangelization and president of the commission. Michael represents the Special Commission for Dialogue with Islam. A full list of the commission’s members can be found on the Order’s website.

► Friars who are beginning their service as JPIC animators are encouraged to participate in the annual JPIC course offered by the Order in collaboration with the Pontifical University Antonianum. This year’s course, which takes place from May 8 to 14, is titled “The Slavery of the 21st Century – New Threats to the Human Dignity.” The course is designed to train JPIC animators to address current issues as well as to serve as an opportunity for ongoing formation for all friars. The first portion will deepen the participant’s understanding of today’s issues by developing the skills they need to respond to the changes taking place in the world today. The second half of the course is specifically designed for the formation of JPIC animators and will create opportunities for them to work together to develop processes for change based on the Franciscan-Clarian tradition, Gospel spirituality, and reflection on their own experiences. The course will be offered in the three official languages of the Order: English, Italian and Spanish.

► The latest edition of the “Acta Ordinis Fratrum Minorum” is available for download. In order to conserve financial and ecological resources, the editors of ACTA have decided to reduce the number of printed copies starting with the next edition. Each province or custody will receive two copies – one for its Curia and one for their library or archive. “It is our hope that, since the ACTA is available online, our readers will be encouraged to consult this website instead,” said the editors.

► The March schedule of the General Minister, Fr. Michael Perry, OFM, along with other recent news can be found in the current issue of Fraternitas, OFM International Newsletter that is produced by two friars — Fr Manolo Figueroa, OFM, and Fr. Alvin Te, OFM, who serve as editors and Fr. Caoimhin O’Laoide, OFM, who translates the text.

Germany is marking the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation. The First Order of St. Francis is recalling the division that took place in 1517 with the Pontifical Bull “Ite vos,” which divided the Order in two: the Conventual and the Observant Franciscans. Ten years later, a third branch of the Order was born: the Capuchins. “’1517-2017’ is an opportunity to stop and think about where we have been, where we are today, and where we are going 500 years after the separation of the Church and in the Order,” according to the Order’s website. “From June 12 to 17, the ‘First Chapter of Mats of the Friars Minor in Germany’ (OFM, OFM Conv., OFM Cap.) will be held at the Franciscan Retreat House in Hofheim.”

Compiled by Maria Hayes

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