ESC Provinces Discuss Change, Reconfiguration

Maria Hayes Franciscan World


The Provincial administrations of the Canadian provinces of St. Joseph and Christ the King, with General Minister Fr. Michael Perry and General Definitor Fr. Francis Walter.

The following is a complication of recent news from the website of the English-speaking Conference of the Order of Friars Minor, composed of provinces from the United States, Canada, England, Ireland, Lithuania and Malta.

Several provinces in the English-speaking Conference are preparing to face changes in the structures of their communities.

At the end of October, the Provincial administrations of both Canadian provinces — Christ the King in the west and St. Joseph in the east — met to discuss the possible reconfiguration of their communities. This conversation addressed declining personnel, as well as the best ways to revitalize Franciscan life in Canada.

Also part of the conversation were representatives from the Ontario Foundation of Immaculate Conception Province, who minister in the Greater Toronto area. Provincial Minister Fr. Primo Piscitello, OFM, Provincial Vicar Fr. Robert Campagna, OFM, and Foundation President Fr. Jimmy Zammit, OFM, pastor of St. Francis Church in Toronto, were present.

During the Mass on Friday, Oct. 31, General Minister Fr. Michael Perry, OFM, offered words of encouragement, saying: “We are here to spend our lives for one another in the pursuit of the Gospel; to follow Jesus in his humility so that we might also experience the freedom, joy, hope, love and reconciliation that He alone offers us. This is the way of the Gospel life proposed by Francis, our ‘forma vitae,’ so that we might be filled with righteousness — shalom — and that our actions here might give life for the sake of the Gospel, for the sake of our brothers in the entities in Canada and for the world.”

The meeting was “a fruitful conversation about the future of Franciscan life in Canada,” according to a Nov. 1 report from the English-speaking Conference. The results of the meeting will be published in the coming months.

Across the pond, the General Definitorium approved the request of the British province of Immaculate Conception to become a custody dependent on the Province of Ireland. The Custody of the Immaculate Conception in Great Britain was formally announced to the friars on Nov. 11 during their chapter in London. Provincial Minister Fr. Hugh McKenna, OFM, of Ireland was present, as well as General Definitor Fr. Francis Walter, OFM, and General Visitor Fr. Ed Tlucek, OFM.

The first custos of the custody is Fr. Patrick Lonsdale, OFM, who previously served as a councilor, as well as secretary for formation. The custody currently has 36 solemnly professed members.

“Becoming a dependent custody of Ireland provides the English friars an opportunity to strengthen their collaborative relationship as well as their ability to move forward in the future,” according to a Nov. 12 report from the ESC. “The Provinces have engaged in joint formation efforts already for a number of years.”

The Immaculate Conception Province of England was founded in 1224.

Last month, the U.S. sub-conference of the ESC met to discuss the ongoing restructuring process. A report was included in an Oct. 22 HNP Today article.

Other topics that have been publicized recently through Facebook and Twitter include:

  • A recent interview with the singing friar, Br. Alessandro Brustenghi, OFM, that aired on CBS
  • Prayers for All Saints Day and All Souls Day
  • Ordination on Oct. 25 of two friars of the Custody of the Holy Land. One was Fr. Fadi Azar, OFM, who is familiar to many HNP friars as he lived at Holy Name College in Silver Spring with formation students for several years while studying at the Washington Theological Union. He also ministered in several Provincial locations during the summers.

Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.