Definitor Appointed General Visitor for USA Province, Other News from Order

Maria Hayes Franciscan World

The General Definitory met with the leaders of the African Conference earlier this month in Nairobi, Kenya. (Photo courtesy of

The following updates summarize news from the Order of Friars Minor. For more information, visit 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.

During the first meeting of the General Definitory of 2017,  which took place from Jan. 9 to 27, 79 files were presented for study and decision, dealing with a variety of administrative matters. Among the topics discussed was the appointment of Fr. Caoimhín Ó Laoide, OFM, General Definitor of the English-speaking Conference, as General Visitor of St. John the Baptist Province, replacing Fr. Gerald Evans, OFM, who resigned due to health reasons. “The appointment of a General Definitor as a Visitator is somewhat unusual, but was necessary in the circumstances,” said General Secretary Fr. Aidan McGrath, OFM. In addition, several offices presented updates. The General Definitory, the Order’s general council, also made some decisions related to the planning and celebration of the Order’s Plenary Council scheduled for June 2018, and some last minute arrangements were made for the meeting of the Definitory with the African Conference, which took place from Feb. 7 to 12 in Nairobi, Kenya.

During the Definitory meeting, the General Minister also welcomed newly elected provincial ministers and custodes to the annual meeting in Rome from Jan. 16 to 27. Among the friars who attended were English-speaking Conference members Fr. Robert Campagna, OFM, of Immaculate Conception Province, USA; Fr. David Gaa, OFM, of St. Barbara Province, USA; Fr. James Gannon, OFM, of Assumption Province, USA; Fr. Algirdas Malakauskis, OFM, of St. Casmir Province, Lithuania; and Fr. Robert Mokry, OFM, of Christ the King Province, Canada. A full list of attendees is available on the Order’s website.

The next Definitory meeting is scheduled to begin March 13.

 General Minister Fr. Michael Perry, OFM, wrote a letter to the friars discussing the recently announced 15th Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in 2018, the topic of which will be “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.” The synod’s purpose will be to learn how the Church “can lead young people to recognize and accept the call to the fullness of life and love, and to ask young people to help her in identifying the most effective ways to announce the Good News today.” The General Minister invites friars to share Pope Francis’s letter on the synod and the preparatory document with the young people which they serve. “In a manner appropriate to the peoples and places in which you serve, and with the guidance of your Ministers Provincial and Custodes, create forums wherein our young sisters and brothers in Christ may listen deeply to the Lord’s voice speaking to them and speak freely to you from the heart of their faith. Then, compile what they have shared and, through your Provinces and Custodies, send it to us at the General Curia, care of the General Secretariat for Missions and Evangelization, so that we might share it with the Holy Father and the Synodal Council. The due date for that material is Sept. 1, 2017.” The photo included in the General Minister’s letter featured Paul O’Keeffe, OFM, and John C. Coughlin, OFM, with Sr. Suzanne Kush, CSSF, and students from St. Bonaventure University and Siena College.

Br. William Short, OFM, of St. Barbara Province, has been appointed director of St. Bonaventure’s College – International Center for Franciscan Studies and Research, located at St. Isidore’s College in Rome. At the request of the General Minister in 2008, the activities of St. Bonaventure’s College, previously located in Grottaferrata, Rome, were transferred to St. Isidore’s. The international group of Franciscan scholars continues to pursue work in the area of Franciscan studies, research and publication. As director, Br. Bill will coordinate all management tasks. Br. Bill currently teaches at the Franciscan School of Theology in Oceanside, Calif., and as, a scholar of the Franciscan sources, is one of the three editors of the four volumes of the Franciscan sources in English. He has held various positions in the Order, including secretary of the 2015 General Chapter and General Visitor in Mexico and South Africa.

On Dec. 18, 2016, the Franciscan JPIC of Pakistan, in collaboration with Kawish Resource Centre and the OFM Special Commission for Dialogue with Islam, organized an “Interfaith Celebration of Eid e Milad ul Nabi and Christmas.” Fr. Jamil Albert, OFM, a member of the commission, welcomed the guests and noted “how great a joy it was for the brothers that their Muslim guests received their evening prayers in the brothers’ chapel.” In his remarks, Molana Syed Abdul Khabir Azad, the chief imam of Badshahi Mosque, “voiced his appreciation of the Franciscans’ efforts in promoting religious harmony as a bridge between both the communities. He also said we need to celebrate our joys and be united in other times.”

The poet Br. Pacifico, one of the companions of St. Francis of Assisi, established the first Franciscan community in France at Vézelay in 1217 before continuing to St. Denis in Paris. After eight centuries, the Franciscan family in France today numbers more than 3,000 members – OFM, OFM Conv., OFM Cap., Poor Clares, Franciscan sisters, and Secular Franciscans. From March 1 to Oct. 4, the Franciscan family invites all interested persons to participate in the 800th anniversary celebrations in France in the joy of universal brotherhood and sisterhood. For more information, visit

The world’s first museum dedicated to the roots of Christianity and the preservation of the holy places is being built in two Franciscan buildings belonging to the Custody of the Holy Land – the Monastery of the Flagellation and St. Savior Monastery.  The monasteries, parts of which date back to the Romans, Byzantines, and crusaders, are located a short distance from one another and are near to the Western Wall, the Via Dolorosa and other pilgrimage and tourist destinations. The museum will cover 2,573 square meters and will be comprised of three main exhibitions: Multimedia – Jerusalem and the Via Dolorosa (The Way of the Cross): From Herod to Present Day; Archeology – The Evangelical Sites of the Holy Land; and History ­– The Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land. More information can be found on the museum’s website.

The February issue of Fraternitas, along with past issues of the international OFM newsletter, can be found on the Order’s website.

Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.

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