Minister General Returns to Rome and Other News Around the Order

Jim McIntosh OFM Franciscan World

The descriptions below summarize recent developments throughout the Order of Friars Minor. Additional details can be found on the OFM website and by following the Order on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

“Today, we join with the entire created universe in singing a hymn of praise and thanksgiving for the wonderful life and mercy of God poured out in Christ Jesus” – these were the upbeat and inspiring words that began the 2019 Christmas message of the Minister General, Michael Perry, OFM. In an introduction to the seasonal message,the Order’s General vicar, Julio Cesar Bunader, OFM, said that his recent visit with Michael found him progressing well in his recovery from injuries sustained in his August biking  accident.   This week, the Minister General returned to Rome in time for the General Council’s January meeting.

► Sam Nasada, OFM, a member of St. Barbara Province, was ordained to the priesthood at the Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale, Arizona, on Dec. 3. A native of Jakarta, Indonesia, Sam came to the United States to study for a degree in industrial engineering. After working in southern California for several years, he joined the Order in 2010, professing his solemn vows in 2016 and obtaining his master of divinity degree from the Franciscan School of Theology in 2017. When the socio-political climate of the country seemed to be increasingly anti-immigrant, Sam – who was one of the organizers of the National Chapter of Mats held last summer in Denver, Colorado – decided to help establish a new Franciscan community in Elfrida on the Arizona-Mexico border to aid asylum-seeking migrants.

OFM, Capuchin, and Conventual Franciscan friars who completed the mission preparatory class in Brussels. (Photo courtesy of the OFM website)

► A group of friars – three OFM, four Capuchin and three Conventual – from Asia and Africa completed a three-month preparatory course in Brussels, Belgium, for ministry in the foreign missions. From September through November, at the International Fraternity of Nôtre Dame de Nations – the Franciscan center for the preparation of missionaries – the friars had the opportunity not only to share their experiences, but also to learn about cultural realities in Europe and discuss several topics that included the history of the missions, interculturality, new evangelization, and justice and peace. The course culminated with a pilgrimage to Assisi and other Franciscan sites. A course for French-speaking missionaries will begin in March.

Friars at COP25. (Photo courtesy of the OFM website)

► The JPIC Commission of the Holy Korean Martyrs Province of Korea participated in the U.N. Climate Conference (COP25) with its non-governmental organization partners. COP25, held from Dec. 2 to 15, embarked on the ambitious theme, “Time for Action” – and although it was one of the longest conferences in history, the international delegates were unable to reach an agreement on several sensitive issues. Moreover, it was reported that the friars were frustrated by the fact that the protests in Chile and other neighboring countries suddenly disappeared from the mass media as the COP25 venue was shifted from Santiago de Chile to Madrid, Spain.

► The December issue of the Secular Franciscan newsletter, Koinōnia, is now available online. This issue features an article by Claudio Hernán Eguzquiza Rodríguez, TOR, on the relationship between the Secular Franciscan Order and YouFra, the Franciscan ministry for youth. Other articles describe the meeting of the CIOFS presidency in Rome, and the first international course of formation for spiritual assistants.

► The October-December 2019 issue of the JPIC quarterly newsletter, Contact, is now available online. It features the Synod on the Amazon, dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi by Pope Francis. Other interesting reading includes an editorial by the Minister General on the challenges of JPIC, and the upcoming JPIC Continental Meeting for Asia-Oceania 2020 scheduled May 11 to 14 in Manila, Philippines, with the theme “JPIC Advocacy on the Issues of Human Trafficking and Migration.”

Franciscan Martyrs by Bernardino Licinio (1489-1565)

► The year 2020 marks the 800th anniversary of the deaths of the first martyrs of the Order, the so-called protomartyrs, in Morocco. When he heard of their deaths, St. Francis of Assisi, the founder of our Order, is reported to have said, “Now at least do I have true Friars Minor!” Upon the return of their bodies to Portugal, they were solemnly processed from there all the way to Assisi. One young Portuguese Augustinian was so moved by their sacrifice when he saw the caravan pass by his monastery, that he joined the Franciscan Order. He is now known as St. Anthony of Padua. The many initiatives taking place throughout the year to commemorate this anniversary will be announced (in Italian) on Facebook.

► The January issue of the Order’s newsletter, Fraternitas, is available online. Among the topics featured are the 40th anniversary of St. Francis of Assisi being declared the patron saint of ecology, an update on the Franciscan mission in Cuba, and recently published books with Franciscan themes.

 Compiled by Jim McIntosh, OFM