An Historic Partnership Begins

Tyler Curtis Franciscan World

Guendalina Sassoli de Bianchi, Michael Perry,  Alessandra Lai, and Tommaso Saltini at the recent OFM fundraising partners meeting (Photo courtesy of OFM Curia)

ROME — “The World is Our Cloister” was the theme of the first meeting of the fundraising partners of the Order of Friars Minor, which took place May 5 to 6 at the Order’s headquarters. The two-day meeting focused on fundraising, project coordination, and collaboration among the different OFM and OFM-associated entities and individual friars.

Ready to move ahead with this initiative are the three partners: the fundraising office of the General Curia, the General Secretariat of the Franciscan Missions, Inc., in Waterford, Wis., USA, and Missionszentrale der Franziskaner (MZF), in Bonn, Germany.

These entities will work together to support the Order’s global needs.

“I am very pleased that we are improving the relationships among us so that we may strengthen and synergize what each of us is doing on behalf of the Order,” said General Minister Fr. Michael Perry, OFM.

As the Order’s director of development, Fr. Franco Mirri, OFM, led the effort to bring fundraisers from around the Order together for this important meeting. With historic Rome and the view of St. Peter’s Basilica as the backdrop, Fr. Franco and his team provided a venue for introductions and dialogue to take place.

The meeting began with discussion about the Order’s priorities, which include addressing the housing and formation needs of young men in Africa and Asia. Because of the steady increase in Franciscan vocations in these parts of the world, the need to accommodate students in formation is a top priority, both now and in the immediate future.

“While we need buildings to house the growing number of young men seeking to become Franciscan friars, we also need to educate and prepare a future crop of friar missionaries who will go on to serve in different roles in the Church,” said Fr. Michael. “It is not only a plea for money. We must look to the future, identify some of the priority areas, and begin to address these needs through friend-raising and fundraising.”

According to Fr. Michael, it is through these fundraising endeavors that the partners will help to engage people and share with them what their partnership means for the future of the Church, the future of human societies – in whatever region or country that is – and the role the Franciscans can play in those areas of the world.

Participants of the May 5-6 meeting that included John O’Connor of Holy Name Province, third from left (Photo courtesy of OFM Curia)

As the dialogue among the partners, and with their respective benefactors, continues, it is important to build a platform for communicating and sharing experiences with each other. In collaboration with the three partner entities, Fr. Mario DiCicco, OFM, of Sacred Heart Province, and John O’Connor, OFM, work to solicit major gifts from individuals and foundations in the United States. They conduct this work from offices located in the Midwest and East Coast, respectively.

One representative from each of the partner entities will serve on the committee to oversee future meeting planning, regular communications among partner members, and special projects. The committee members are myself and Fr. Franco Mirri, OFM, of the General Curia, and Fr. Matthias Maier, OFM, president of MZF.

The next annual meeting of the OFM Fundraising Partners will be held in Waterford, Wis., in spring 2018.

“This is an historic moment. We are trying to alter the course that the different agencies and individuals are taking. We are doing this work at different levels, but heading in the same direction. A coordinated effort will strengthen our work and mission,” Fr. Michael explained. “With this initiative, we are responding as friars both to the needs within the Order so that we may serve the Church, and to the needs of the world.”

As the meeting concluded, Fr. Michael shared these words of encouragement: “Thank you for what you do on behalf of the Order, and on behalf of the Franciscan family in service to God’s people.”

For more information on the work of the Order of Friars Minor throughout the world, please visit To learn more about the fundraising partners of the Order – Franciscan Missions and MZF – visit and

Tyler Curtis is director of operations for the Franciscan Missions office. She has been on staff since November 2014.


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