The Extraordinary General Chapter is now in its second week of deliberations. The assembled friars have heard at least one plenary address on most days.
On Wednesday, Sept. 20, a Vietnamese-American, Dr. Peter Phan of Georgetown University, spoke on the Order’s priority of evangelization in relationship to diverse cultural realities. John O’Connor reports that Phan’s address was one of the most stimulating and best-received at the chapter.
Phan proposed a new missionary spirituality for the Church, and especially for Franciscans: a spirituality of “border-crossing.” The evangelizer, in today’s multicultural and multi-religious world, must continually transcend both traditional boundaries and, at the same time, the new borders created through globalization. Dr. Phan’s complete address is available on the chapter web site.
On Thursday, Sept. 21, Cornelius Bohl, OFM, novice director for the German provinces, addressed the chapter on the theme of “The Rule as a Proposal of Life Today.”
John O’Connor was elected one of two Provincials to be members of a three-person finance commission for the Chapter. Each conference nominated a friar; the English-speaking Conference nominated Robert Campagna of the Immaculate Conception Province. John said he was surprised to hear his own name placed in nomination by another conference. In the subsequent election, John and a German provincial were chosen. That evening, the chapter delegates traveled up to San Damiano for evening prayer.
On Friday, Sept. 22, General Minister Jose Rodriguez Carballo presented a summary of his report to the Order titled “With Clarity and Audacity.” Afterward, the General entertained questions and remarks from the floor. Then the friars broke up in language groups to discuss their reactions to the General’s report.
On Saturday, Sept. 23, the language groups reported the results of those discussions on the floor. That evening, the delegates went to the Basilica of Saint Clare in Assisi, where the former General Minister, Giacomo Bini, OFM, presided at evening prayer.
On Sunday, John reports that the delegates enjoyed a much-awaited free day. The following day, work continued in language groups in the morning; the afternoon was dedicated to presenting proposals to the assembly and subsequent discussion.
John said that he made his first intervention on the floor, recommending that at the next General Chapter, laity from various countries also be invited to share their thoughts (on the model of HNP’s Partners in Ministry), “because they could help us evaluate our life and ministry as friars in a more objective manner.”
John reports that the best part of this chapter experience is meeting friars from around the world, hearing of their lives and ministry, and sharing ideas with them.