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Order Update: Messages for Christmas and Week of Christian Unity

During his fraternal visit to Mexico, the General Minister visited members of the Franciscan family, including the Secular Franciscans, Poor Clares, Conceptionists, and the friars. (Photo courtesy of the Order of Friars Minor)

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 as well as by following the Order of Friars Minor on Facebook and Twitter throughout the month.

The General Minister released a message for the Week of Christian Unity, which is Jan.18 to 25. In his text, Fr. Michael Perry, OFM, describes the urgency of this year’s theme, “Justice and only justice you shall pursue.” He said, in part, “My dear brother friars, and all sisters, brothers and friends of our Franciscan family, throughout this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity may the justice of the Gospel be our pursuit, and may the grace that animates its pursuit heal us of our of own sins and draw us into ever deeper and stronger bonds of communion with all who call upon the name of the Lord, that His prayer may be fulfilled in us for the sake of the life of the world for which He died and rose again: ‘As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth. I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.’ (Jn17:18-21)

In December, Fr. Michael released a letter for Christmas titled “The Christmas of a God Who Knocks on our Doors,” which is posted on the Order’s website. In it, he writes of the experience of the exodus being a “paradigm for all the various situations of people who are forced to flee their homeland, escaping threats to their lives, hunger, violence, persecutions, wars and armed conflicts, or for other reasons.”

In the late autumn, the General Minister visited two provinces of friars. Fr. Michael was with the Franciscan Province of Germany from Nov. 25 to 28, and from Dec. 10 to 13, he made a fraternal visit to the brothers of the Holy Gospel in Mexico.

The Order has announced details about its 2019 Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation course, which is being offered Feb. 18 to 27 at the Antonianum in Rome. “The Care of the Environment in the Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue” will be offered in Italian, with simultaneous translations in English and Spanish. Friars wishing to register for this annual course may do so by using the Order’s website

The most recent issue of Contact, the quarterly bulletin of the Order’s Office of Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation, provides details about the JPIC course. The 26-page newsletter also offers information about a webinar series, and reports on social justice events that took place over the last few months. Past issues of Contact can be found in the Resources section of HNP.org’s Justice and Peace section.

Nearly 100 participants from around the world attended the Fourth International Congress Commissaries of the Holy Land, which was held in Jerusalem from Nov. 26 to Dec. 2. The theme was “Pastoral Care of Pilgrimages: Welcoming Memory Evangelization.” Details are posted on the custodia.org website.

Members of the Franciscan Family will be participating in World Youth Day in Panama, from Jan. 19 to 24. As part of the event’s activities, the Franciscan Ecological Village will offer education, prayer and action based on integral ecology. Approximately 100 volunteers – young people from several countries and friars in initial formation from the Central American Province – will be participating. The General Minister plans to be at the event for five days.

Information about the Order can be found on OFM.org and news about the English-speaking Conference, one of 14 conferences in the Order, can be found on its website.

— Compiled by Jocelyn Thomas

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