With a fraternal greeting that wished the fullness of God’s peace, hope and joy for all this season, General Minister Fr. Michael Perry, OFM, sent the Order’s annual Christmas greeting to friars, his first since assuming the leadership position in May.
He began the letter by telling the story of St. Francis’s deep relationship with Jesus. After the death of the Order’s founder, his friars sought to understand and disseminate his original intuition. Through their study, they realized that “his most important insight was the discovery and celebration of a God who is relational, who creates all in love, and destines all for love.”
From this, the friars came to understand God as Triune, a community of Oneness who seeks always to pour out love and goodness.
Like the early friars, the General Minister said, “we are also called to discern how to live this message of communion and love faithfully and joyfully in our lives, fraternities and evangelizing mission today.” He called friars to remember their brothers surrounded by conflict and violence in Syria, the dehumanization of God’s people in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, and those suffering from climate change and extreme natural catastrophes in Haiti and the Philippines.
The General Minister also encouraged friars to remember those in Africa, Australia, Central and South America, Europe, Lebanon, Mexico and the United States who “are reaching out in love to an ever-increasing number of immigrants, who have left their lands and countries in search of security, peace, dignity and new opportunities.”
One of the Order’s challenges, the General Minister noted, “is that of going out of ourselves, reaching out to all humanity as God reaches out to us. Evangelizing presupposes a desire in the Church to come out of herself and go to the periphery.”
He continued: “Pope Francis has made it a priority to go to the peripheries of the world, engaging its peoples through his apostolic zeal and his simple humanity, looking to understand their problems and seeking solutions together with all those of good will. People around the world, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, have responded enthusiastically. For us who are men of the Gospel and members of the Order of Friars Minor, how are we, in our daily lives, to imitate Pope Francis’ embrace of humanity, his desire to love, show mercy, and open his heart to others as God opens his heart to humanity?”
Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, and Provincial Vicar Dominic Monti, OFM, addressed this point in their annual Christmas letter to Holy Name friars.
“The real challenge today is not to bring people to the Church, but to bring the Church to people,” they wrote. “And so in this Christmas season, we thank you for the ways, in your many different ministries, that you have brought the Church to others, for the ways that you have brought the Gospel good news to the people of God.”
The Provincial Administration concluded by wishing friars peace, joy and hope for their brothers and communities.
— Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.
Editor’s note: The Provincial Office will be closed the following dates for the Christmas and New Year holidays: Dec. 23 through 25 and Dec. 31 and Jan. 1.