ROME — The January issue of Fraternitas, the newsletter of the General Curia, sporting a new design, reports on a number of OFM provinces that are consolidating or considering a merger. This news is especially relevant to American Franciscans, as the Inter Provincial Collaboration Commission established last month will consider various models of restructuring the U.S. provinces.
The two French-speaking provinces, Blessed Pacificus (Paris), with 119 friars, and the Franco-Belgian (Stratsbourg) with 94 friars, are merging after their chapter in late April. The new name will be the Franco-Belge Franciscan Province of Blessed John Duns Scotus. The merger has been discussed for three years, and the new seat of the province will be decided at the chapter. This area had restructured previously in 1996, when six provinces, five in France and one in Belgium, became two.
Several provinces in Spain will unify on Jan. 1, 2015. For the past few years, the provinces of Seville, Murcia, Our Lady of the Rule of Granada, Holy Savior of Horta de Catalonia, St. Joseph of Valencia, St. Gregory the Great of Castile, and the Custody of St. Francis Solano of Peru, have discussed merging. During a January 2011 meeting, the definitors of these entities decided that the union finalize in 2015. It was also decided that the various sectors would express what they want in the new entity regarding formation and studies, evangelization and mission, Justice, Peace and Integrity for Creation, pastoral education, ongoing formation, and other topics.
The Province of St. Joseph in Belgium is considering a restructuring, too, requesting to become a dependent Custody of the Province of the Holy Martyrs of Gorcum in the Netherlands. In the spring, a chapter will be held regarding restructuring the two provinces. As many religious communities are, the Province of St. Joseph is seeing a reduction in its members.
The Conference of the Southern Cone (Cono Sur) in South America and Central America, which encompasses Argentina, Chile, and Paraguay, is downsizing, fusing into one entity. Involved in the process are the Custody of Br. Luis Bolaños of Paraguay, dependent on the Basque province in Spain, and the province of St. Michael of Argentina, and two entities that will be integrated into the Province of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin of the Río de la Plata, Argentina. It is expected that at the end of this year, the Custody of Paraguay will integrate. All are expected to restructure by the end of next year.
The current OFM newsletter also reported on meetings of other types.
The general ministers of the male Franciscan family — Fr. Mauro Johri, OFM Cap., Fr. Marco Tasca, OFM Conv., Fr. Michael Higgins, TOR, and Fr. José Rodriguez Carballo, OFM — met on Christmas Eve day at the General Curia of the Order of Friars Minor.
These regular meetings promote common reflection on the life and mission of Franciscans, to coordinate common efforts in the face of the current challenges to consecrated life, and to foster greater collaboration of the entire Franciscan family.
The general ministers also met with the Orders’ general secretaries of formation and studies.
The monthly newsletter also reports information about:
• The General Minister’s schedule, which includes a meeting with new provincial ministers from Jan. 14 to 25.
• Fr. Jose’s election as president of the General Assembly of the Union of Superiors General. After the election, he said: “We are called to be evangelized in order to be transparency of the Gospel, ‘living exegesis of the Word.’ This requires making our identity a top priority, paying special attention to the three pillars that support religious life today: spirituality, community life, and mission.”
— Compiled by Wendy Healy