News from around Order of Friars Minor this past month includes updates about the multicultural novitiate in Ireland, the English-speaking Conference, a friar whose canonization cause is progressing, and the new website of a friary in Rome.
The November issue of Fraternitas, the Order’s international newsletter, features an article about the pope’s latest encyclical “Fratelli Tutti” with a message from the Minister General. It also has news about the Franciscan Connections blog, an explanation on how one can attend the Terra Sancta Organ Festival online, descriptions of recently-released Franciscan books, and the General Minister’s schedule. Timed with the U.S presidential election, the publication also includes a photo of a friar casting his vote in 1906 in the then-territory of Arizona.
The descriptions below summarize recent developments throughout the Order of Friars Minor. Additional details can be found on the OFM website and by following the Order on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
► The provincials and custodes of the English-speaking Conference held their autumn meeting via video conference on Oct. 12 and 13, focusing on the Order’s next General Chapter, which is scheduled for July 3 to 18, 2021 at the Collegio Internazionale San Lorenzo da Brindisi, located on the outskirts of Rome. Much time was devoted to discussing potential candidates for minister general, including key qualities that candidates should possess, according to Patrick McCloskey, OFM, executive secretary of the ESC. The top five candidates will be reviewed at the ESC’s next Zoom meeting on Jan. 4, when discussions will also begin about candidates for General Counselor. Other business included preliminary discussions about an in-person meeting in Rome just before the General Chapter, as well as a review of the accountability reports from ESC secretariats, commissions, and committees. The provincials decided to shorten their spring meeting from four days to four hours of Zoom conversations on April 19 and 20, when they also confirmed Patrick’s role as executive secretary through October 2023.
► The International OFM Novitiate in Killarney, Ireland, has always been a multicultural environment. But its character became even more diverse this year when the novitiate welcomed novices Koen Van Durme, OFM, a Belgian from the Dutch Province; Matthias Borchardt, OFM, from the German Province, and Niklaus Meienberg, OFM, from the Swiss Custody dependent on the Austrian/Italian Province of St. Leopold. The solemnly professed community includes Danish, German and Irish friars, and novice director Anthony Jukes, OFM, is an Englishman. Local residents who frequent the friary are accustomed to international visitors and a wide variety of accents since Killarney is a popular tourist destination.
► The steps toward canonization are moving forward for Blessed Frédéric Janssoone, OFM, (1838-1916), a French-born friar who served in ministry in Egypt, France, Palestine, and Quebec, Canada. An article on the website of Canada’s Holy Spirit Province says that “this excellent preacher,” who drew large crowds at the beginning of the 20th century, inspires and fascinates even today. “People are still talking about this exceptional man more than 100 years after his death. People from all walks of life travel to make a pilgrimage… [and] new devotions develop. His story is alive and well in the oral tradition of many families in Québec and elsewhere,” the article said. “They like to tell his story, remembering his extreme poverty, his goodness, his charisma, his healings, and his miracles that will lead him toward canonization.” The website reported, that despite the initial surprise, Bishop Martin Veillette, bishop emeritus of the Diocese of Trois-Rivières, Québec, accepted the position of vice-postulator for the cause of canonization for Frédéric, and was “more than delighted to offer this service to his Franciscan friends.” Since retiring in 2012, Bishop Veillette has served as the Diocese of Trois-Rivières’s representative on the Board of the Vice-Postulator, a committee established to support him in his duties.
► Pope Francis participated in an ecumenical prayer for peace – called “No one is saved alone – Peace and Fraternity” – on Oct. 20 at the Order’s Basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli in Rome. The event was promoted by the Sant’Egidio Community. After presiding at the ecumenical service with other Christian denominations, the pope provided reflections during a ceremony with representatives of the great world religions in Piazza del Campidoglio on the Capitoline Hill. Reflections were also offered by the president of the Italian Republic and other religious leaders. After a minute of silence in memory of victims of the pandemic, wars, terrorism, and violence in the world, the Appeal for Peace Rome 2020 was read. The pope’s remarks are available online.
► Michael Perry, OFM, the Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor and the Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Antonianum University, presented an honorary doctorate in philosophy to His Holiness Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople, Ecumenical Patriarch, during the inauguration of the academic year at the Antonianum. Before the award ceremony, the Laudatio was given by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, who, in referring to the leader of the Church of Constantinople, emphasized “the harmony with the Petrine Magisterium which demonstrates the ecumenical union between the Churches of East and West.”
► St. Isidore’s College in Rome, the residence for theology students of the province of Ireland, launched a new website last month. The college, founded in the 17th century, is also home to the International Center for Franciscan Studies and Research, whose main activities include research and scientific publication, the training of Irish friars in formation, and the care of two major research libraries.
— Jim McIntosh is a communications assistant for the HNP Communications Office and webmaster of USFranciscans.org.