The following descriptions summarize recent developments throughout the Order of Friars Minor. Additional details can be found on the OFM website and by following the Order on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
► The Minister General and the General Council released a document titled “Listen to the Cry of the Amazon” for this year’s feast of St. Francis of Assisi. In it, they wrote, “We Franciscans are called to accompany the Amazon Synod [“The Amazon: New Paths for the Church and for Integral Ecology”] with great attention – [and] which asks us to hear the cry that goes forth from the Amazon.” The document continued, “We know that the Catholic Church has been present in some parts of the Amazon since the arrival of the European colonizers. The Church is still a prophetic voice in the Amazon. We want to send a special thanks to the brothers of our Order who currently live and work in the Amazon region of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela.” The correspondence went on to say, “At the same time, we ask all the brothers of the Order to be sensitive to the cry of the Amazon, defending the life, dignity and rights of the Amazon peoples. We also ask them to be an ever more present Church, and with the Amazonian missionary face, a prophetic Church that faces the challenges of today.”
► The general vicar of the Order gave a homily in La Verna on Sept. 17 for the feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis of Assisi. He stressed that La Verna, for Francis, was a place of silence and solitude to encounter the cross and passion of Jesus, and a “place of the joy of the blessed.”
► Missionszentrale der Franziskaner (Franciscan Mission Centre), the Germany-based Franciscan organization for aid in Africa, Asia and Latin America, celebrated its 50th anniversary last month. The General Council, two Brazilian bishops, and the State Premier of the Nordrhein-Westfalen were among the 600 guests at the three-day celebration (Sept. 6 to 8), which was dedicated to the presentation of projects for various countries. More than 17,000 projects have been funded during Franciscan Mission Centre’s 50 years. Afterwards, Franciscan identity, fraternal life in the region, contemplative missionary fraternities, and questions about the entire Order were discussed at a meeting between the General Council and the Transalpine Franciscan Conference, which oversees the Franciscan Mission Center. The friar participants also visited Cologne Cathedral to pray at the tomb of the blessed Franciscan theologian John Duns Scotus.
► The JPIC animators of the European provinces met in Malta in early September, focusing on the theme, “Living Franciscan humanism in today’s European context: Go and repair my house.” The group of 25 friars from Spain, Ireland, England, France, Austria, Italy, Poland, Lithuania, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Malta were welcomed by Richard Grech, OFM, provincial minister of the Province of St. Paul in Malta. Highlights included a visit to John XXIII Peace Lab – an organization that promotes solidarity and moral values rooted in Christian faith, but without excluding other religions and people – and the inauguration of the “Time for Creation,” organized by the Inter-diocesan Commission for Environment. Thee JPIC animators met with the mission and evangelization animators to discuss the possibility of creating a Mediterranean Franciscan network.
► In mid-September, Minister General Michael Perry, OFM, released an update on his health, reporting that he continues physiotherapy three days a week for three hours each day. He is still unable to put any weight on his left leg and says that under the best of circumstances, if the bone heals properly, he should be able to return progressively to a normal life, but will need to reduce some activities for the coming eight to 10 months. He stated in his update that “if the bone does not heal correctly, there is a strong likelihood that I will require further surgery sometime in the near future to replace the hip.”
► Sixty Franciscan Major Superiors from Sri Lanka, Pakistan and India converged in Bangkok, Thailand, from Aug. 18 to 24 to reflect on the Franciscan missionary charism and how it could be effectively transmitted in the region. They also took the opportunity to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the encounter between St. Francis and the Sultan. Religious leaders from Buddhism, Islam, Christianity and Sikhism attended the commemorative event and stressed the value of peace and dialogue in a multi-cultural society. Admiring St. Francis and the Sultan for their courage in initiating inter-religious dialogue, the speakers shared their thoughts on how both men, in their own way, were inspiring to everyone committed to peace. The Association of Franciscan Families in India organized the event under the umbrella of the South Asian Franciscan Initiative.
► Members of the Order’s African Conference met at the Tetouan Fraternity in the Custody of Morocco from Sept. 23 to 27. Among the participants were the Conference leaders, General Treasurer, General Secretary-General of Mission and Evangelization, representatives of Missionszentrale der Franziskaner, and the region’s General Councilor. The spirit of welcome and fraternity was captured in a conference communiqué, which stated: “We joyfully appreciate visible signs of hope and God’s presence in our lives and in the midst of this Moroccan people who welcome us and cherish us despite our difference in religion. We are comforted by the positive impact and admiration that the Franciscan message of hope, reconciliation and peace finds in the hearts and cultures of the peoples of Africa.”
► A series of practical seminar lessons in the essential tools and working methods in the study of Franciscan sources is available to students and researchers at The School of Medieval and Franciscan Studies of the Pontifical Antonianum University in Rome. The classes – which illustrate, among other things, collections of documents and papal letters, bibliographic repertoires and magazines in the library of the Antonianum – is recommended for students enrolled or with degrees in the courses of licentiate in theology or master’s in historical-literary disciplines. Completing the requirements earns participants a certificate and three ECTS credits.
► The October issue of Fraternitas, the international OFM newsletter, can be found online. Included is a story about this summer’s US-6 Chapter of Mats, as well as book recommendations.
— Compiled by Jim McIntosh
- “Order Update: Minister General Injured in Biking Accident and Other News” – Sept. 11, 2019, HNP Today
- “Celebrating 800 Years of Francis and the Sultan” – Oct. 2, 2019, HNP Today
- “Seasonal Reflection: The Stigmata of St. Francis” – Sept. 25, 2013, HNP Today