English-speaking Provincials Meet

Leslie Hoppe Features

VICTORIA, Britsh Columbia – Lay Brother Delegate Andy Brophy, OFM, of the Assumption Province, will attend the Extraordinary General Chapter in Assisi this fall. The members of the Order’s English-speaking Conference chose Andy from a field of nine lay brothers to join the ESC provincial ministers at the Chapter.

The nine nominees from six provinces were all very well qualified. It took several ballots over two days before the provincials settled on Andy.

When contacted with the news, he said, “I am surprised and honored. Surprised because I realize there were plenty of excellent candidates. And I’m honored to be able to attend such an important event in the life of the Order.”

The Extraordinary General Chapter is part of the Order’s observance of its eighth centenary. The Chapter will witness to the extraordinary variety of ways that the friars around the world live the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the Church.

Meeting in Victoria

Andy’s election took place during the spring meeting of the ESC. Bob Mokry, the provincial minister of the Christ the King Province of Canada, hosted his fellow provincials in Victoria, the capital of British Columbia.

The provincials arrived in Victoria on April 3, and the business of the meeting began on the following day.

The focus of Tuesday’s sessions was on the Office of the General Bursar. Giancarlo Lati, OFM, who heads the office, and Gabriel Garcia, OFM, his associate, spent an entire day with the provincials, acquainting them with the office and the financial status of the Order.

The provincials appreciated the openness of Giancarlo and Garbiel as they spoke of their responsibilities. The General Minister, José Rodriguez Carballo, is committed to transparency in the area of the Order’s finances, and Giancarlo and Gabriel reflected that commitment, not only in the presentations, but in the candor with which they answered questions from the provincials.

Other business at the meeting included the appointment of the officers to serve on the ESC Secretariat for the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition: Joseph Chinnici, OFM, St. Barbara Province (Chair); Margaret Carney, OSF (Vice-Chair); Edward Coughlin (Treasurer).

Fred Link, the provincial minister of the St. John the Baptist Province, invited his fellow provincials to send participants to a workshop on the supervision of friars with allegations that the St. John the Baptist and Sacred Heart Provinces are sponsoring.

Each provincial spoke about activities in his province related to the observance of the Order’s eighth centenary. The provincials also spoke about what they hoped the Extraordinary General Chapter will contribute to the life of the fraternity.

Finian McGinn, OFM, a member of the St. Barbara Province who serves on the General Council, described the agenda of the May meeting of the presidents of the Order’s 14 conferences.

The meetings of the conference offer the provincials a chance to support each other in their service to their respective provinces. The personal interchange that takes place at the meetings is a most valuable opportunity for the provincials to share their experiences, learn from each other and find encouragement in their fraternal ministry.

A high point of the meeting was Thursday’s festive dinner in honor of Larry Dunham, who is completing a six-year term as provincial of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Province. In the fall, Larry stepped down as ESC president after a two-year term. The provincials especially appreciated the valuable leadership that Larry has provided the ESC.

“The Friars Shall Have Neither Coin Nor Money…”

The presentations made by Giacarlo Lati and Gabriel Garcia sparked a lively discussion about the finances of the fraternity. Among the challenges that the General Bursar’s Office faces in its ministry are the cultural differences among the provinces regarding the use of money. For example, many provinces do not have the expertise necessary to produce an accurate and useful financial report. It is even more important to recognize that behind the figures in our financial reports are religious values. Where we put our money shows where are hearts are. The provincials recognize that the financial choices that need to be made should not be imposed from above, since they are to reflect the values and commitments of the entire fraternity.

One provincial observed that chapter delegates ought to have their province’s balance sheet in their hands, as they discuss options for the future. Another suggested that there should be annual provincial assemblies that discuss financial problems to ensure that there are no “rich” friaries in the province, but that all brothers share a common vision in the use of a province’s resources.

[This article is taken from the Assumption Province’s Provincial Newsletter, edited by Jerry Tokarz, OFM.]