Planners Choose Theme, Logo for Provincial Chapter

Jocelyn Thomas In the Headlines

Less than 100 days and counting to the nearly week-long 2020 Chapter this spring, when the friars of Holy Name Province will assemble in Franciscan tradition and protocol to elect leaders, evaluate proposals, and engage in discourse on contemplation, fraternity, and mission.

The Chapter 2020 logo. (Graphic courtesy of Michael Reyes)

The friars will look toward the future and share their views about revitalization, which is a central theme of the Restructuring and Revitalization Process that will ultimately unify six U.S. provinces.

The triennial gathering – which takes place on the scenic campus of Siena College in Loudonville, New York, just outside of Albany – will begin with the arrival of friars on the afternoon of May 31, and will conclude with a Mass on June 5. The theme of the 2020 Chapter is “Prophets of Hope: Listening, Discerning and Going Forth.”

Created by the Chapter Planning Committee, the theme was inspired by a document – titled “Those Who Have Ears, Let Them Listen to What the Spirit Is Saying … to the Friars Minor Today” – produced by the 2018 OFM Plenary Council in Kenya, according to Stephen Mimnaugh, OFM, who is leading the planning committee.

Among other responsibilities, the committee has been tasked with arranging speakers and discussions to explore and examine the meaning of the Chapter’s theme.

“Since the Revitalization and Restructuring Process and the Province’s Fraternal Ecology process have focused on restructuring, one goal of the 2020 Chapter is to turn toward revitalization,” said Stephen. “Specifically, we hope to explore the identity of Contemplative Fraternities-in-Mission in light of moving toward forming a new province.”

The committee recently chose a Chapter logo – a striking image that shows a friar walking toward the sun, representing Franciscans looking toward the future. It was one of several designs created and submitted by artist Michael Reyes, OFM, who also produced the logos for the 2017 and 2014 HNP Chapters.

Throughout the six-day Chapter, there will be several presentations and small group discussions. On the second day of the gathering, Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen, OFM, will deliver a state of the Province address. Also scheduled that day is a presentation by the Province’s general visitor, Stephen O’Kane, OFM, a member of the Province of Ireland who, since last year, has been studying and researching HNP, meeting individually with every friar, and conducting an administrative and ministerial audit. He will present his report during his presentation.

“The committee hopes to enlist friars to record video reflections, exploring how the theme relates to their experiences and aspirations for Contemplative Fraternity-in-Mission,” said Stephen, who noted that the details of the Chapter schedule continue to be a work in progress. “We hope that jubilarians and friars approaching solemn vows or ordination, in particular, will share reflections. These videos will be presented at the Chapter. Participants will also be invited to reflect and share in small group discussions,” he added.

Toward the end of the week, friars will vote for a provincial minister and vicar, as well as for members of the HNP Provincial Council. Straw-ballot voting is currently underway so that HNP members can declare the friars they prefer for consideration in these leadership positions.

In preparation for the Chapter, the friars have been asked to hold house chapters in April and May, during which they will discuss friar-submitted proposals that the Council deems worthwhile for evaluation by all members of the Province.

“We ask that your house chapters utilize the ‘listening, discerning and going forth’ model that was adopted for the Plenary Council,” Kevin said in a recent letter to Province friars.

Kevin’s letter went on to say, “According to General Minister Michael Perry, OFM, this model ‘allows us to know more about our reality. It can help all of us to move into a listening, prayerful and reflective attitude, to discern and then identify concrete ways to go forth, responding with joy to the Lord who calls us to conversion, for a more authentic Franciscan life in a work that is changing so rapidly.’”

In addition to Stephen, Chapter Planning Committee members include John Aherne, OFM, Henry Fulmer, OFM, Thomas Gallagher, OFM, liaison to the Provincial Council, Michael Harlan, OFM, Richard McFeely, OFM, and Juan de la Cruz Turcios, OFM. The Province’s general visitor will serve as president of the Chapter.

Other friars will help with details such as environment, hospitality, liturgy, music, and transportation. HNP’s simply professed friars will assist with on-site tasks.

The last Chapter, a special gathering in 2018 called an Extraordinary Chapter, focused on the Revitalization and Restructuring Process. It was at this gathering that HNP friars voted for the Province to officially be part of the R&R Process.

Four of the other OFM provinces in the United States that are participating in the unification process are also holding chapters this year – including Wisconsin-based Assumption BVM Province, Our Lady of Guadalupe Province of New Mexico, the St. Louis, Missouri-headquartered Sacred Heart Province, and St. John the Baptist Province in Cincinnati, Ohio. St. Barbara Province, the West Coast OFM community, held its chapter last year.

In July 2019, 400 friars from these six U.S. OFM provinces gathered at a Chapter of Mats for their first interprovincial chapter.

Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.