The following descriptions summarize news from the English-speaking Conference of the Order of Friars Minor, comprising provinces and custodies from Canada, England, Ireland, Lithuania, Malta, and the United States. Follow the ESC on Facebook for up-to-date information throughout the month. The January ESC round-up included news about the shelter that San Damiano Retreat in Danville, Calif., offered to victims of the Camp Fire, the closing of St. Francis Friary in Wisconsin and a friar who is the oldest broadcaster in Ireland.
► An interim provincial chapter was held at the Monastery of the Revelation in Kretinga, Lithuania, from Jan. 14 to 18. The chapter brought together friars, not only from all Lithuanian fraternities, but also from the provincial monasteries in Kennebunk, Maine, and Toronto, Canada. Four provincial council members were elected to three-year terms: Fr. Astijus Kungys, OFM, Fr. Gediminas Numgaudis, OFM, Fr. Paulius Bytautas, OFM, and Fr. Evaldas Darulis, OFM. They will join Provincial Minister Fr. Algirdas Malakauskis, OFM, and Provincial Vicar Fr. Andrius Nenėnas, OFM, in the administration.
► Also in Lithuania, the documentary titled “The Little Friar Augustine Dirvelė” premiered at the St. Antanas Palace in Kretinga in January. The film is dedicated to the 85th anniversary of Kretinga High School and the 115th anniversary of Fr. Augustine’s birth. Fr. Augustine’s activities during the interwar period changed forever the face of Kretinga, the Franciscan high school, and St. Antanas Palace. “When Soviet occupation was over, Fr. Augustine was arrested and became a martyr of faith, disagreeing with the government and remaining loyal to God and his homeland. To commemorate the beautiful anniversaries, we wanted to honor the memory of Father Augustine,” said Provincial Minister Fr. Algirdas.
► In Malta, the friars of the Province of St. Paul the Apostle met in a Chapter of Mats from Jan. 23 to 26. Among the topics presented were the Order’s Plenary Council, held in June 2018 in Nairobi, and the call by Pope Francis to “open your heart to the lepers of our time!” The Province of St. Paul also has a new look for its provincial website, which now uses technology that is more adaptive for handheld devices and includes the friar directory, complete with friar photos. The site, available only in Maltese, can be found at http://ofm.mt/.
► Jamaica missionary Fr. Jim Bok, OFM, of St. John the Baptist Province, is the newest member of the Order’s Executive Committee for Missions and Evangelization. He was recently appointed to the post by the General Minister and Council. The committee, comprising five friars from around the world, serves as an advisory board to the General Secretariat for Missions and Evangelization. Collaborating with the Secretariat, the committee sets the agenda for the biannual meeting of the Internal Council for Missions and Evangelization, which includes the 16 Conference Secretaries of Missionary Evangelization. Fr. Jim and other members will attend that meeting, as well as their own annual gathering. Three of the Executive Committee’s current members are Provincial Secretaries of Missions and Evangelization. One of two “at-large” members, Fr. Jim says of his new appointment, “It’s another opportunity to keep our Jamaica mission out in the public.”
► Sacred Heart Provincial Minister Fr. Thomas Nairn, OFM, was among several friars from St. Anthony’s Friary in St. Louis, Mo., who joined the Poor Clare sisters on Feb. 2 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Poor Clare monastery. After Mass, the friars shared stories with the sisters about the Poor Clares’ historical presence in St. Louis, including the time they made the hosts that St. John Paul II used at the Mass he celebrated during his visit there in 1999.
► The secretary of formation and director of vocations of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Province, Fr. Greg Plata, OFM, reports that several steps have been taken to unify the vocation office as Assumption and the other five American OFM provinces move forward in the Renewal and Restructuring Process, and the eventual creation of a new Franciscan province in the United States.
— Br. Jim is communications assistant for the HNP Communications Office and webmaster for US Franciscans.
- “Ordination in Chicago and Other ESC News” – Nov. 28, 2018, HNP Today
- “Lithuanian Franciscans Celebrates 70 Years in Maine” – Oct. 10, 2017, HNP Today
- English-speaking Conference website