NEW YORK – General Minister Jose Rodriguez Carballo, OFM, and other leaders of the Order of Friars Minor visited several ministry sites in Holy Name Province in connection with a meeting of the English-Speaking Conference of the Order.
The General Minster and his colleagues arrived in New York on March 28. After sightseeing in the city on March 29, Fr. Jose presided at the 4 p.m. vigil Mass at St. Francis of Assisi Church on West 31st Street.
Jerome Massimino, OFM, pastor and guardian of St. Francis of Assisi, said that the friar community was thrilled to welcome Fr. Jose. The bulletin reminded parishioners and visitors that Fr. Jose is the direct successor of St. Francis of Assisi in guiding the Franciscans.
Fr. Jose, a member of the Spanish Province of Santiago de Compostela and leader of the Order of Friars Minor since 2002, traveled by bus with members of the General Council, or General Definitorium, to Western New York on March 30 with members of the English-Speaking Conference (ESC).
The foreign visitors to New York included:
- Fr. Amaral Bernardo Amaral, OFM, of the Africa-Middle East Conference
- Fr. Juan Ignacio Muro Arcrechigoa, OFM, of the Latin America 2 Conference
- Fr. Mario Favretto, OFM, of the Italian Conference
- Fr. Louis Gerardo Cabrera Herrera, OFM, of the Latin America 1 Conference
- Fr. Sime Samac, OFM, representing the Slavic Conferences
- Fr. Jakab Varnai, OFM, representing the Central Europe Conferences
- Fr. Ambroisio Si Nguyen Van, OFM, of the Asia-Oceania Conference
Fr. Jose, who was ordained a priest by Pope Paul VI in 1977, said that his visit with the American friars was wonderful.
“This has been a new occasion to meet the brothers, some of whom I had met at Siena College during a Provincial Chapter,” he said. “But on this occasion, I have discovered different aspects that I was not able to appreciate last time due to my schedule. For example, I am very much impressed by the fraternal environment I found in this house, as well as the liturgical celebration.
“This visit also allowed me to meet the English-Speaking Conference, and I want to underline the warm welcome by the Provincial of Holy Name, who at the same time is president of the English-Speaking Conference. I want to thank all the Provincials of the English-Speaking Conference. I would like to extend my gratitude to the Provincial of Holy Name Province and to all the brothers I met during this visit for their brotherhood.
“If I had not been here, I would not be able to believe the extent of the fraternity and of the good works,” said the General Minister, who speaks Spanish, English, Italian, French and Portuguese.
Fr. Jose and members of the General Definitorium met on March 31 with the leaders of the ESC, who held their spring meeting at SBU in Allegany, N.Y.
The ESC is currently led by John O’Connor, OFM, Provincial Minister of Holy Name Province. Vice president is Caoimhin O’Laoide, OFM, Provincial Minister of the Province of Ireland. The ESC meeting, March 30 through April 3, was held at SBU to enable members of the ESC and the General Curia to be part of the university’s anniversary celebration. Their presence emphasized SBU’s Franciscan heritage.
During their stay on campus, the visiting friars – both those of the ESC and the General Curia – listened to a presentation about the Franciscan Institute by director Fr. Michael Custato, OFM, of the Sacred Heart Province. The institute, founded in 1942, is located in the Friedsam Memorial Library. It has three main functions – teaching, research, and publications, according to Fr. Michael, who told the audience that Conrad Harkins, OFM, renewed the teaching program in 1972.
St. Bonaventure Trustee Robert Daugherty, who was on campus for a meeting, commented that his son, a sophomore at the university, noticed a lot of friars on campus.
“He remarked that he had never seen so many brown robes together,” said Daugherty, SBU ’77, “and I told him that when I was in college here, I was used to seeing this many friars. It was great to see this again.”
The General Minister offered a message to the friars of the Province: “Be not afraid. The times, in which we are living, are not easy. The shortage of vocations, aging of friars, we need to leave some ministries because we cannot staff them, but let us be not afraid. There are more significant things that give us high hope. The Lord is with us, and if he is with us, we have no motives to doubt that our option makes sense, even if we are just a few.”
St. Paul, after having experienced the strength that comes from Christ, said, “I can do all things in Him who fortifies me.” “And I tell the brothers now, ‘Be not afraid. For God, nothing is impossible and if for God nothing is impossible, neither it should be for us that we have put our trust in him.’ ”
A story about SBU’s convocation and Fr. Jose’s honorary degree appears earlier in this issue.