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.
► The Order launched its new website on March 10 at the General Curia in the presence of friars, members of the press, and communication directors for religious orders. General Minister Fr. Michael Perry, OFM, gave a talk about “how the Franciscan desire, above all else, to share the Good News of the Gospel with all of humanity” and that “the digital era challenges us and the Church to embark on a new journey.” Communications director Fr. Alvin Te, OFM, exhibited the new website and Matthew Harvey Sanders of Longbeard Creative, which partnered with the friars on the project, provided demonstrations of existing technologies that can be used to improve workflow efficiency. The new website received coverage from several media outlets, including Catholic News Service.
► The General Minister visited the Christian community in Aleppo, Syria, on April 5. “It is only by God’s grace that we are able to face persecution, terror, destruction, and the threat of death – our own and that of our loved ones,” Fr. Michael told them. “It is only by remaining in God’s love, in deep relationship with Jesus who is ever present to us in all moments of our lives, and most especially in times of great suffering, that we will be able to find the courage to face the world with hope. It is this same courage, the same hope, that allows us to reach out to those around us – to our fellow Christians from all the different rites, to our Orthodox brothers and sisters, and to Muslims – and extend to them our hand of friendship and our offer of assistance and compassion. In these ways, we give witness to God’s fidelity that is always near to those who trust in Him.” Fr. Michael’s full message to Syria’s Christian community can be found on the Order’s website.
► An ecumenical ceremony was held to mark the completion of the restoration of the Edicule of the Holy Sepulcher on March 22. One year prior, representatives of the three religious communities who care for the site – the Franciscan Friars of the Holy Land, the Greek Orthodox Church and the Armenian Apostolic Church – signed a historic agreement allowing experts to restore the holy site which houses Jesus’ tomb. Photos of the restoration and the ceremony are included on the Order’s website.
► On March 14, Fr. Lóránt Orosz, OFM, resigned from his offices of General Definitor and Procurator General and returned to his province in Hungary. “On behalf of the General Definitory, I wish to thank Fr. Lóránt for the generous and diligent contribution he made to the government of the Order as General Definitor and as Procurator, and I pray God’s blessing on him, on his future life and ministry, and on all the brothers of the Province of Magna Domina Hungarorum,” said Fr. Michael Perry, OFM. “In the coming months, the process will begin to find a replacement for Fr. Lóránt in his role as definitor.”
► The Order’s quarterly JPIC bulletin, “Contact,” was released earlier this month. The topic of this issue is “Migration” – one of three themes selected by the last International Council of JPIC Coordinators that met in Verona, Italy, in 2016. “Contact” includes information on the work that friars are doing with migrants around the world, including La 72, a shelter for migrants in Tenosique, Mexico, and Assumption Province’s ministries to migrants, including a parish that houses Caritas’ “Immigrant Assistance Center” in McAllen, Texas.
► The General Definitorium has approved the text of the document containing guidelines for establishing a hermitage fraternity or a house of prayer. The document is available on the Order’s website.
► The Conference of the Franciscan Family of Brazil will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a Chapter of Mats from Aug. 3 to 6 in Aparcedia. Friars of the First Order, TOR, the Poor Clares, the brothers of the SFO and Youth-Fra will be among those in attendance. The theme will be “To Bring the World the Mercy of God” and the motto is “We need to return to Assisi.”
► The Foundation of St. Francis in Russia and Kazakhstan in Russia held its chapter at the General Curia in Rome on March 13 to 17. Various presentations and reports were given, and the chapter concluded with the election of a new government by the General Minister and Definitory: Br. Stefano Invernizzi, OFM, as president, and Brothers Eliot Marecki, OFM, John Gibbons, OFM, and Bernardin Turmann, OFM, as councilors. The General Minister’s homily from the opening Mass of the chapter is available online.
► In preparation for the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the arrival of the Franciscans in Mexico, which will take place in 2024, the five Franciscan Provinces of Mexico, in collaboration with the Universidad Autónoma de Queretaro and the Colegio de Jalisco, hosted the Second Congress of Franciscan History from March 14 to 16. The Province of Saints Francis and James organized the event with the theme “Expansion of the Franciscans in Northern and Western Mexico.” The conference is the second in a series that will take place every two years.
► On March 23, Pope Francis approved the canonization of the Blessed Martyrs of Tlaxcala, Mexico, and the Blessed Martyrs of Natal, Brazil. He also officially recognized the martyrdom of Servant of God Regina Mariam Vattalil (née Rani Maria), a professed sister of the Franciscan Clarist Congregation.
► Liturgist Br. Alberto Beckhäuser, OFM, of the Province of the Immaculate Conception in Brazil, died March 28 of cancer. For many years, he was coordinator of the commission for the translation and edition of the liturgical texts of the Conference of Bishops of Brazil, and after the Second Vatican Council, contributed to the publication of missals, lectionaries, books of the Liturgy of the Hour, rituals and benedictions in Brazil. In recent years, he was also part of the committee that updated the Franciscan missal. He published 24 books on theology and liturgical spirituality, co-authored another 16 books, and wrote about 200 articles for various magazines. He also taught liturgy for 48 years.
— Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.
- “Franciscans’ urgent appeal for end to Syria Violence” – April 7, 2017, Vatican Radio
- “Curia Update: Friar Leads Retreat for Pope Francis, Other News” – March 14, 2017, HNP Today
- “IC Province Friar Appointed to Order’s Communications Team” — Aug, 15, 2015, HNP Today