The following descriptions summarize news from the English-speaking Conference of the Order of Friars Minor, which comprises provinces and custodies from Canada, England, Ireland, Lithuania, Malta, and the United States. Follow the ESC on Facebook for up-to-date information throughout the month. The March ESC round-up included news about a documentary filmed of the unification process of the Canadian provinces, volunteer tailors in Cincinnati who are learning to sew habits, and a meeting of the friars ministering in Alaska.
► The provincials of the English-speaking Conference gathered in Racine, Wisc., from April 2 to 5 for their spring meeting. During this 158th meeting of the OFM provincials, the friar leaders discussed updates affecting their conference, which is comprised of entities in six countries. They met with Joseph Rozansky, OFM, about Franciscans International, and with Lawrence Hayes, OFM, and the post-novitiate formation directors from Ireland, St. Barbara, Holy Name and Sacred Heart Provinces. General Councilor Fr. Caoimhín Ó Laoide, OFM, also provided updates about the Order’s recent and upcoming events. Kevin Mullen, OFM will represent the ESC at the May meeting of conference presidents, where he will address the group. While in Wisconsin, the provincials visited St. Josaphat Basilica, operated by OFM Conventuals, in Milwaukee, and Assumption Province’s St. Francis and Clare Friary in Franklin.
The ministers set meeting dates through fall 2023. The Malta province will host the fall 2019 meeting, while St. Barbara and Holy Name provinces are scheduled to host the spring and fall 2020 meetings, respectively. The provincials elected Fr. Thomas Nairn, OFM, of Sacred Heart Province, as vice president (2019 to 2021) and next president. Fr. James Gannon, OFM, of Assumption BVM Province, will serve as president of the ESC until 2021. The provincials extended their gratitude to Kevin for his service as ESC president these past two years.
► Two ESC provinces are holding interim provincial chapters this year. New York-based Immaculate Conception Province has scheduled its chapter for June 16 to 21 at Mt. Alvernia, Wappingers Falls, N.Y. The chapter of St. Barbara Province, headquartered in Oakland, Calif., is scheduled for June 23 to 28 at the Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale, Ariz.
OFM provinces hold chapters every three years to discuss important matters and to elect members of the provincial council. Provincial ministers are also elected at chapters – which are called elective chapters – to serve six-year terms. Chapters held in the middle of a provincial’s term are called interim chapters. The next HNP Provincial Chapter, scheduled for 2020, will be an elective chapter.
► The members of Holy Spirit Province, the community established in Canada last fall, are engaged in a comprehensive discussion about the future of the St. Francis Retreat Centre in Cochrane, Alberta. The facility sits on 450 acres, making the Franciscans one of the town’s largest landowners. “This assessment of our physical holdings has very much to do with the number of men we are, the number of places we can continue to be present at, and our vision of how we continue to minister throughout Canada,” said Fr. Robert Mokry, OFM.
► In Ireland, the Franciscan Friary in Waterford, Munster, will be closing at the end of April. This decision by the Irish province’s provincial council was not taken lightly or with any disregard for history, according to a statement released by Fr. Aidan McGrath, OFM, provincial minister, who noted that one of the most illustrious members of the Franciscans – Fr. Luke Wadding, OFM – was a native of Waterford. Friars in Clonmel will take charge of the Franciscan Church at Lady Lane, while the convent at Waterford will become the residence of a community of religious sisters.
► The latest issue of The Troubadour, the Irish province’s missionary magazine, is available online. The publication serves Franciscan missionaries stationed around the world. It features articles about missioners and their work, missions and ministries, and other interesting and inspiring subjects.
► The friars of St. John the Baptist Province in Cincinnati participated in the milestone 100th opening day parade of the Cincinnati Reds major league baseball team. Garbed in their brown habits, the friars were a big hit, responding to waves and shouts of recognition along the entire parade route. As the provincial bulletin said, “On this festive day, when the community comes together, it’s good to be a Reds’ fan. And it’s good to be a friar.” Photos and details about the March 28 festivities can be found in an article distributed by the province. A video of the event can be viewed here A video of the event can be viewed online.
► Br. Michael Charron, OFM, a member of St. John the Baptist Province, received his law degree from the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, Va. Now studying for the bar exam, Br. Michael intends to use his degree to help those in need. “I started out wanting to do immigration law. Then I wanted to do criminal law. I’ve also been interested in family law. I just kind of need to see what people need. Once I figure that out, I’ll specialize in an area,” he said.
► On April 6, Sr. Kathleen Osbelt OSF, a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities, presented a lecture titled “Franciscan Solitude: A Wellspring of Grace” at Immaculate Conception Province’s Blessed John Duns Scotus Franciscan Library in New York City. Sr. Kathleen lived in her community’s Franciscan Hermitage in Fayetteville, N.Y., for more than 21 years. She is the founder and director of mission outreach for Francis House, two facilities for those who are at end-of-life.
► The National Equality and Diversity Awards ceremony was held March 28 in the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania to honor prominent human rights advocates. The winners of the so-called “Oscars of human rights” were elected by popular vote. Among the recipients was Br. Evaldas Darulis, OFM, who won the diversity of religions and beliefs award for his advocacy of respect and non-discriminatory attitudes within the Christian community towards the LGBT community. Br. Evaldas founded a group for LGBT+ individuals and their relatives in his parish. The National Equality and Diversity Awards is organized by the Lithuanian Office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsman with the National Forum for Equality and Diversity.
► In Australia, the friars celebrated the 50th anniversary of the current church at their parish of St. Therese and St. Anthony in Kedron. In addition, the doors of the 115-year-old Church of St. Mary’s in Ipswich were opened for tours as part of the Ipswich Festival.
– Br. Jim is communications assistant for the HNP Communications Office and webmaster for US Franciscans.
- “Canadian Provinces Unify During Historic Chapter” — Oct. 30, 2018, HNP Today
- “Immaculate Conception Province Dedicates New Library in NYC” — Nov. 24, 2015, HNP Today