CHICAGO — Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, participated in the biannual meeting of all ministers of the English-speaking Conference at theCatholic Theological Union (CTU) here. For the first time, provincials of the European Conference of Trans Alpine Friars (COTAF) also joined the meeting, bringing the total attendance to 30 friars.
The provincial ministers gathered from Oct 6 to 10; each conference held its own meeting and also gathered jointly to discuss topics of common interest, including:
- Nominees for general minister
- Agenda suggestions for the General Chapter in May
Participants were from the 14 ESC provinces, as well as from the provinces of Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Romania and Switzerland. The gathering comprised a variety of discussions, prayer services and meals.
A reception was held Monday evening for the participants to introduce themselves. Fr. Donald Senior, CP, president of CTU, welcomed the friars.
On Tuesday, theologian Fr. Robert Schreiter, CPPS, spoke about secularization in Europe and the United States. “It was an excellent talk,” said John, president of the ESC. “He explained the differences between European cultures and those of the U.S.”
That afternoon, they discussed nominees for the office of general minister, and then shared results of the discussions. “We broke into two groups; each group came up with two people to recommend as possible nominees,” John said.
The friars celebrated Eucharist together that evening.
On Wednesday, the friars met as individual conferences. That afternoon, they enjoyed an interesting Architectural Boat Tour on the Chicago River, followed by a dinner at a Greek restaurant in Chicago’s Greektown neighborhood. In honor of the French participants, the friars ordered French wine, John joked.
The next day was devoted to the individual business of the two conferences, said John. The ESC members discussed a variety of topics, including the accountability report and the programs sponsored by the ESC such as:
- CFIT — The Commission on the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition
- American Franciscan Liturgical Commission
- Justice and peace programs
- Reports from recent meetings of the vocation and communication directors
- Franciscan Missionary Service
Two key decisions were made by ESC members, John said. They are:
- Confirmation of Dominic Monti, OFM, as chair of the ESC Secretariat of Formation and Studies. In this capacity, Dominic will attend the meeting of the Order’s International Council for Formation & Studies in Murcia, Spain, from Nov. 24 to Dec. 3.
- Approval of the creation of a task force to study the feasibility of establishing a combined novitiate program for all ESC provinces
The gathering ended with a joint liturgy on Friday with members of COTAF.
The next ESC meeting will be held next spring in Indiana.