ESC Leaders Meet in Ireland for Business, Fraternity

Jocelyn Thomas Franciscan World

SWORDS, Ireland — The provincial ministers and custodes of the English-speaking Conference gathered last week for their spring meeting, spending five days exchanging news, participating in a study day and learning about Franciscan history. They were hosted by Fr. Hugh McKenna, OFM, provincial minister of the Province of Ireland, who for two years has served as president of the conference.

Fourteen Franciscan leaders participated in the April 3 to 7 meeting at the Emmaus Centre, a retreat and conference facility north of Dublin that is operated by the Christian Brothers. The attendees – who represented Australia, Canada, Lithuania, Malta, Great Britain and the United States – discussed a variety of topics including ongoing formation, the financial status of the Order, the US Franciscans Communications Task Force, the house of prayer in Ava. Mo., and a collaborative event of the First Order of the Franciscan family. On Nov. 4, a study day in Chicago titled “Looking to the Future: Beyond ITE VOS” will mark the 500th anniversary of the papal bull that formally divided the Franciscans into Conventual and Observants.

During the recent five-day gathering, the sub-conferences of both Canada and the United States met to discuss the revitalization process occurring in their regions, with the Americans working on the “white paper” report called “Making Fraternity Our Mission” that will be ready for distribution next month as preparation for provincial chapters being held this spring as well as the August meeting of the six provincial administrations participating in the reconfiguration of the U.S. provinces. Provincial Vicar Lawrence Hayes, OFM, and Fr. Dan Anderson, OFM, served as the moderator and assistant moderator, respectively, for the American provincials’ discussion.

The spring meeting included a study day offered by Rev. Eamonn Conway, of the Archdiocese of Tuam in western Ireland, who spoke on the topic of “Evangelization in the Light of Pope Francis.” The week also included time to visit several historic sites in Dublin.

Details about the April meeting, along with photos, can be found in the ESC Spring Newsletter that was released earlier this week.

The ESC – one of 14 conferences in the Order of Friars Minor – includes 1,346 members, according to the newsletter, produced by Fr. Thomas Washburn, OFM, the ESC executive secretary. It is the second largest in the Order, behind the Italian pre-conference, which includes more than 1,600 members. Like the other OFM conferences, the ESC is dedicated to the promotion of unity, coordination and collaboration in their Franciscan life and mission.

The next English-speaking Conference meeting – being held in October in Albuquerque, N.M. – will be led by Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen, OFM, who after this month’s meeting became the conference’s new president. Kevin has served as Holy Name’s provincial minister since summer 2014.

Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.

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