FORT MITCHELL, Ky. — Provincial Vicar Dominic Monti, OFM, participated in the annual OFM Interprovincial Councils Meeting from Sept. 13 to 15 at the Drawbridge Hotel and Conference Center, a short distance from the Greater Cincinnati Airport.
This is the first time a representative of Holy Name Province has attended the gathering. This meeting, attended by roughly 30 friars, brings together the provincial councils of Assumption, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Sacred Heart and St. John the Baptist Provinces each year to discuss topics of mutual interest and various collaborative projects.
The four provinces began bringing together the members of their respective councils almost 20 years ago, in light of the fact they were increasingly involved in a number of joint projects: an interprovincial novitiate (Cedar Lake, Ind.), an interprovincial post-novitiate program at the Catholic Theological Union (Chicago), and a joint house of prayer (Ava, Mo.), Dominic said.
“It was thought to be more productive for all the council members to be present together to hear reports from these various initiatives and take common action then and there rather than individual reports to each province’s council,” Dominic said. The meeting is coordinated by an Interprovincial Collaboration Committee, composed of the provincial vicars of the four provinces. “Generally, each province’s council also schedules its own meeting while at the Interprovincial gathering to discuss their own regular business,” he added.
Recently, the four entities have invited the other U.S. provinces to send at least a representative to the meeting. Last year, the provincial vicar of St. Barbara Province, Fr. Ken Laverone, OFM, attended, and this year, Holy Name Province sent Dominic. Though Fr. Ken and Dominic officially were “observers” at the meeting, they were able to enter freely into the discussion. Dominic said he was familiar with many of the issues discussed due to his being general visitor for the Assumption Province over the past year.
Dominic said he was impressed by the open sharing among the friars.
“It is comforting to know that all of us are pretty much facing the same challenges as we enter this second decade of the new millennium. This perhaps indicates that common action is indicated if we are to effectively meet some of these.”
Besides the expanded interprovincial novitiate, several joint projects were mentioned, such as a gathering for SPUFY friars (those solemnly professed under five years), common action to guarantee the transmission of the Franciscan intellectual tradition, and ongoing formation, especially leadership development. “Finally, the group raised the question of the eventual restructuring of the U.S. provinces themselves,” Dominic said.
Meeting attendees also enjoyed some social time together. On Wednesday afternoon, they drove into Cincinnati for a tour of St. Anthony Messenger Press and then celebrated evening prayer at St. Francis Seraph Church and enjoyed dinner in the friary there, the headquarters of St. John the Baptist Province.
Dominic said, “Our attending this gathering is a great way to follow up on one element of Holy Name’s strategic plan — to collaborate more effectively with other Franciscan entities.”
The last resolution of this meeting was to encourage the English-speaking Conference to expand this annual gathering to include the provincial councils of all the North American provinces. This July, a retreat is being planned in Malibu for all the provincial council members of the U.S. and Canada.
“Today it is essential that all of us in provincial leadership, not just the provincial ministers themselves, get to know each other better and the common issues facing all of us,” Dominic noted.