The reflection below is one in a series written by Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, about his observations and experiences as leader of Holy Name Province. The previous installment appeared in the Feb. 5 issue.
Dear brothers and partners-in-ministry,
Last month, I spent two days meeting with the six other U.S. provincials at the provincial offices of Immaculate Conception Province on Thompson Street in New York City. This was a follow-up meeting to our gathering in San Diego last fall. We further discussed a process geared toward redefining the operating structure of the seven provinces in the United States. At this meeting, we once again reached a unanimous consensus that, because of several factors, we can no longer operate as seven distinct provinces.
Restructuring Discussions Continue
What a new structure of governance will look like is yet to be determined. That structure will be decided on not just by us provincials, but by the friars of the seven provinces. All friars will have a chance to discuss a proposed process during our fraternal gatherings as well as at our chapter in June. I have found the discussions so far to be informative and hopeful.
We provincials do not see this restructuring process as merely a “pulling back” in the face of declining numbers, but rather as a creative and positive approach to the future in a way that helps us more clearly define a common vision as Franciscan fraternities here in the U.S. Our discussions have been honest, candid and frank. Hopefully, this will also be true as friars in the various provinces take up this important conversation.
By now, you will have received the first of what will be several newsletters describing this ongoing endeavor. In addition, there is a video being produced in which the provincials speak to the necessity of engaging in this restructuring process and our hopes for the future.
In other news, the Provincial Council received a preliminary report from the Chapter Planning Committee on the progress being made on the agenda for the upcoming chapter and a description of the fraternal gatherings format. The committee has been working hard under the chairmanship of Daniel McLellan, OFM. I believe you will be pleased with the results of their work.
I want to again encourage as many friars as possible to attend these fraternal gatherings and to plan on participating in the chapter. As for myself, I am now getting ready to participate in a number of my “last meetings” as provincial and finalizing plans for “life after provincial.” I hope to visit as many friaries as possible as part of what I am describing as a “goodbye tour.”
That’s all for now. My prayers are with you and all of our partners-in-ministry as we move into this most holy of seasons, Lent. May this be for all of us another chance to examine our lives and, where necessary, turn back again to the Lord. May that very Lord continue to bless you, show his face to you and shed his light upon you. All the best.
— Fr. John, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., is the 15th friar to serve as Provincial Minister of Holy Name Province. His term concludes in June at the 2014 chapter.