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Order Update: General Minister Visits Migrant Shelter in Mexico, Other News

Michael Perry, far right, visits a shelter for migrants in Mexico. (Photo courtesy of ofm.org)

The following descriptions summarize recent news from the Order of Friars Minor. Additional details can be found by visiting the links to the news items mentioned. Follow the Order of Friars Minor on Facebook and Twitter for information throughout the month.

 The General Minister, Fr. Michael Perry accompanied by General Definitor Fr. Ignacio Ceja, OFM, visited the friars of San Felipe de Jesús Province in southeast Mexico, in early July. The trip included a stop at La 72, a shelter for migrants on the border of Mexico and Guatemala. Since its founding, La 72 has welcomed more than 70,000 people. “The 72 is not only for migrants who come here with the aim of reaching the United States. There are also victims of kidnapping, group violence, sexual violence, and death threats, crimes that have occurred not only in Central America but in Mexico itself. They are welcomed here as a refuge from their suffering. They all receive humanitarian assistance and are given a place to sleep, food to eat, and medical and psychological assistance as well as legal advice.” Student friars Casey Cole, OFM, and Christian Seno, OFM, spent a summer of ministry there, and several Provincial ministries have partnered with La 72 to share its story.

 Fr. Ibrahim Alsabagh, OFM, of the Custody of the Holy Land, who is a parish priest in Aleppo, Syria, received the “Jan Karski” award on June 26 in Krakow, Poland.  The award is given to people perceived to be outstanding in “humanitarian service.” Fr. Ibrahim was honored for having given “hope in a hopeless world and for taking hope to a forgotten people.” His book, “An Instant Before Dawn: Syria – Chronicles of War and Hope from Aleppo,” contains a daily chronicle of his experiences. The Karski Prize was created in memory of a young Polish Catholic, Jan Karski, who was tasked with informing the leaders of the Allied countries about the situation in Poland, particularly the situation of the Jews during the Nazi occupation.

 In recognition of the 800th anniversary of the birth of St. Bonaventure, the general ministers of the First Order and of the TOR released a joint message commemorating the event. “If we still want to be friars of the people, men who bring good news to the streets of our world, Bonaventure reminds us that our Franciscan life has three essential elements: a consistent and credible relationship with the mystery of God’s love; fraternal life that is characterized by peace and is a sign of reconciled humanity; and finally, a serious intellectual formation that enables us to effectively and competently enter into dialogue with our world.” The full address is available on the Order’s website.

 Fr. Giovanni Rinaldi, OFM, of the Province of St. Anthony, Italy, has been elected to serve as the Order’s General Secretary, filling the vacancy left by the election in June of Fr. Aidan McGrath, OFM, as provincial minister of the Province of Ireland. Fr. Giovanni was previously serving as the private secretary of General Minister Fr. Michael Perry, OFM.

 Fr. Andrew Brophy, OFM, of Assumption Province, has been appointed director of the General Secretariat for Franciscan Missions in Waterford, Wis. He succeeds Fr. Teofil Czarniak, OFM, who was recently elected provincial minister of Immaculate Conception Province, Poland. The GSFM provides funding for the Order’s missionary and formation projects.

 A liturgy marking the closing of the 800th anniversary of the Pardon of Assisi will be held at 11 a.m. on August 2. Cardinal Pietro Parolin, secretary of state to Pope Francis, will preside, and the liturgy will be broadcast live by Padre Pio TV and transmitted worldwide. A Triduum of Preparation will be preached by the General Ministers of the First Order.

 Provincial ministers, custodes, foundation presidents and the secretariats for formation and study, mission and evangelization, and JPIC of the Franciscan Conference for Asia and Oceania met from July 10 to 14 at Casa Monte Rosa, Puncak, Indonesia. The primary purpose of the meeting was to select delegates for the Plenary Council of the Order, to be held in Nairobi, Kenya, in June 2018. The website for the Order of Friars Minor in East Asia was also launched during the meeting.

 On July 7, Pope Francis authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate decrees of heroic virtue for three Franciscans: Br. Louis Kosiba, OFM, of Poland, who was renowned for his work with the poor; Paula of Jesus Gil Cano, who founded the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of the Most Pure Conception in Murcia, Spain; and Sr. Maria Elisabetta Mazza, who founded the Congregation of the Little Apostles of the Christian School in Italy. Their biographies can be found on the Order’s website.

Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.

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