Order’s General Chapter Concludes in Assisi

Maria Hayes In the Headlines

ASSISI — After four weeks of meetings, presentations, discussions and elections, the General Chapter concluded on June 7.

The final document from the chapter is being prepared by the administration and will be sent to friars in the coming months.

“This document is all about listening to the brothers during the chapter, listening to what each brought from his province, the Word of God, and how the Spirit moved us during the chapter,” Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen, OFM, said. “The major themes reflected in this document will center on our identity as lesser brothers.”

Among the decisions and milestones that occurred during the final weeks was the election of the General Definitorium, which took place on Saturday, May 23. The new members are:

  • Fr. Caoimhin O’Laoide, OFM, (Ireland) representing the English-speaking Conference
  • Fr. Antonio Scabio, OFM, (Province of Veneto) representing the Italian Conference
  • Fr. Ivan Sesar, OFM, (Bosnia and Herzegovina) representing the Slav Conferences
  • Fr. Lorant Orosz, OFM, (Hungary) representing the Central European Conferences
  • Fr. Valmir, Ramos, OFM, (Sacred Heart in Brazil) and Fr. Ignacio Ceja, OFM, (Jalisco, Mexico) representing the Latin American Conference
  • Fr. Nicodème Kibuzehose, OFM, (Kenya) representing the Africa/Middle East Conference
  • Fr. Lino Gregorio Redoblado, OFM, (Philippines) representing the Asia-Oceania Conference

Each friar will serve for the next six years.

“There was great support for the friars who were elected,” said Kevin, who attended as a delegate. “There was a very good chemistry among the group in the early stages. They seemed to complement each other well, with their varied experiences and skills.

Presentation on Fundraising
On May 28, John O’Connor, OFM, executive assistant to the General Minister for fundraising and development, presented three options for the future of fundraising for the Order — continuing with the status quo, forming greater collaboration with the General Secretarial for the Franciscan Missions in Waterford, Wis., and establishing a fully operational development office. The new administration will consider these plans and make a decision based on what was presented.

“It was a special moment for Holy Name Province to have a former provincial minister appointed by the General Minister to this significant role,” Kevin said. “John represented the Province exceptionally well and was able to explain the significance and importance of fundraising in the Order’s future, a concept not popular in other parts of the world where fundraising is not part of the culture.”

Collaboration Among Orders
Also discussed at the chapter was a proposal made among the General Ministers of the OFM, Conventual, Capuchin and TOR orders for efforts toward greater unity among the groups over the next few years. Throughout the chapter, the friars heard from several leaders of other branches of the Franciscan family, including the Secular Franciscans and the International Franciscan Conference of the Third Order Regular Institutes.

“We can work together in our common vocation and mission that we share – a vocation and mission born here in Assisi,” said General Vicar Fr. Julio Bunader, OFM.

Different initiatives that may be considered include a 2017 commemoration of the Papal Bull Ite Vos, the 1517 bull that separated the members of the Franciscan family into OFM Regular Observance and Conventual, and potentially exploring new common projects among the entities.

“There was an appeal made by the General Minister that we look at ways to collaborate, through sharing resources for intellectual endeavors, education, and research to show the richness of the Franciscan movement,” Kevin said.

Moments of Grace
For Kevin, the opportunity to gather around the Porziuncola and work with friars with varied experiences from around the world was a moment of grace. There was also what he described as “necessary tedium” — elections, presentations, assessments, and other tasks to sift through that were “painful but necessary.”

“Throughout the chapter, there was great fraternal sharing and support for one another,” he said. “There is hope for the future, optimism and grace that is seen where the Order is growing.”

Each capitular was required to serve on a commission. Kevin served on the economic commission. “We did very good work to enhance the accountability and transparency that’s required in all financial matters in the world today. Necessary control was established during the chapter deliberations.”

Other friars who attended the chapter include Provincial Councilor Brian Belanger, OFM, delegate-at-large for the English-speaking Conference, former Provincial Vicar Dominic Monti, OFM, who served as a “peritus” or expert, as well as part of a three-man committee that compiled the final chapter report, and Joseph Rozansky, OFM, director of the Order’s Office for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation. Several United States provinces — including Holy Name, Immaculate Conception and Sacred Heart — were among the few provinces that had multiple members performing a variety of functions during the chapter.

Photos and videos showing scenes of the 2015 Chapter can be found on the ESC Facebook page. The daily reports distributed from May 10 to June 8 can be found on the ESC website.

Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.