The Extraordinary General Chapter of the Order of Friars Minor will take place from Sept. 14 to Oct. 1 in Santa Maria degli Angeli in Assisi, Italy. The General Chapter takes place during the multi-year celebration of the 800th anniversary of the founding of the Order in 1209.
At the Chapter, 156 delegates, including Provincial Minister John O’Connor, representing 123 provinces and custodies working in 107 countries on five contintents, are expected to participate in the meeting. The previous three General Ministers, John Vaughan, OFM, Hermann Schalück, OFM, and Giacomo Bini, OFM, will also be present at the Chapter.
The Order of Friars Minor has 2,467 friaries around the world. As of Dec. 31, 2005, the Order consisted of 15,596 friars, of which 10,437 were priests, 2,504 were lay brothers, 2,014 were simply professed friars and 459 were novices. At present, the Order has six cardinals and 106 bishops serving the Church in many dioceses.
As the General Minister explained in his summoning letter for the Extraordinary General Chapter, “The Vocation of the Order Today” is the guiding theme for the reflections of the chapter delegates. They will consider a preparatory document that has been approved by the General Council. The aim of the Chapter is to assist the start of a “journey of discernment and renewal in the Order,” in preparation for the 8th centenary of the approval of theRule of St. Francis in 1209.
During the Chapter, ample time will be allocated to discussion of documents written since 1973 concerning “The Vocation of the Order Today” in response to the invitation issued by the Second Vatican Council for a “continual return to the sources… and adaptation to the changing conditions of the times.” (Perfectae Caritatis)
“It is a spiritual chapter,” explained the General Minister, José Rodríguez Carballo, OFM. “It is a celebration which seeks to live the memory of the journey of the Friars Minor through the ages, a ritualizing of the evangelical intuition of Francis in order to launch the Order into the future with hope and great faith in the Lord. Carrying in our hearts the Gospel of Christ and remaining open to the realities of everyday life, we will be able to live out our vocation to be witnesses in our time of the holy love of God in the Church and in the world.”