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Friars to Gather May 29 for Extraordinary Chapter

Close to 200 friars of Holy Name Province are gathering later this month for an Extraordinary Chapter to vote on whether or not Holy Name Province should join with five other U.S. provinces to form one new province. They will meet from May 29 to May 31 on the campus of Siena College near Albany, N.Y., to consider this step as part of revitalization & restructuring (known as R&R) Franciscan life in the United States.

On Wednesday, May 30, the friars of Holy Name as well as members of five other OFM provinces in the United States – at different locations – will vote on whether to unify. The participating provinces are Assumption BVM, headquartered in Wisconsin, Our Lady of Guadalupe in New Mexico, Sacred Heart in Missouri, St. Barbara in California and St. John the Baptist in Ohio.

The work of this Extraordinary Chapter is best described as “deciding after much discernment,” said Provincial Kevin Mullen, OFM. “In essence, we are acting on the results of several years of study, reporting, discussion and prayer as to what type of structure – maintaining our current structure or forming one new province – should assist us in the ongoing process of revitalizing our Franciscan life in the U.S.”

The R&R process has been underway among the U.S. provinces since 2012. Friars have reviewed and discussed many reports, letters and studies that have provided background on various aspects of fraternal and ministerial life in the United States. Those documents will inform the voting process later this month.

The results of the vote will be announced live on May 30 to the friars of the six participating provinces. Afterward, the outcome will be shared with the public via a post on USFranciscans.org.

For the recommendation of one province to pass, an absolute majority of all the votes cast (more than 50 percent of the votes) must be in favor. The voting results of each individual province will be announced as the official positions of the respective provinces.

“Only if there is unanimous support (i.e., six absolute majority votes) by the six provinces in favor of the formation of one new province, will the R&R recommendation pass,” said Kevin.

Holy Name Province friars, like the members of the other five participating provinces, have been preparing for the vote by discussing and reading about issues related to Franciscan life among their provinces. Knowledge of the content and the R&R process is presumed for all who participate as member of the Chapter, Kevin said.

Though the vote and its results are significant, “the most important activity for all of us is the ongoing revitalization of our Franciscan life,” he added. “From our origins, friars have always been about rebuilding our common home and beginning again.”

In recent years, Franciscan provinces in other areas of the world have been restructuring. This fall, the two Canadian OFM provinces will be holding a Chapter of Union to launch a new Canadian province.

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