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 May ESC round-up included news about a video released by the Province of Ireland, an announcement about a presentation being given by Daniel Horan, OFM, in Australia in August, and comments about the passing of humanitarian Jean Vanier.
► The friars of Assumption Blessed Virgin Mary Province are raffling off four tickets to a Green Bay Packers football game. The winner will have the option of choosing between the 2019 Green Bay season opener or the historic 200th game against the team’s archrival Chicago Bears. The raffle benefits the ABVM formation program.
► Last month, St. Barbara Province released a list of its friars who had credible accusations of sexual abuse dating back to 1950. In an accompanying May 31 letter, Fr. David Gaa, OFM, the provincial minister, said, “The administrations in the past were leaders in setting an example of a response that was both compassionate and prophetic. They responded to the reality of their times in a positive manner, however, time has moved on and the issues have slightly changed. I hope all brothers are comfortable in the manner this administration has responded.”
► The Province of Ireland reports that the Franciscan friars of the Custody of the Good Shepherd in Zimbabwe gathered in Harare for their Custodial Chapter during the first week of June. This important gathering, which takes place every three years, is a time of prayer, discussion and discernment as the friars reflect on their life and ministry. A new leadership team was chosen for the next three years, including the new custos Fr. Naison Manjovha, OFM. Ireland Provincial Minister, Fr. Aidan McGrath, OFM, presided over the chapter and the elections. At the conclusion of the chapter, Fr. Aidan and the custos and council met to make appointments to various ministries within Zimbabwe.
► The friars of two ESC provinces are meeting in their provincial chapters this month. Members of Immaculate Conception Province are gathering at Mt. Alvernia Retreat Center, Wappingers Falls, N.Y., from June 16 to 21, while St. Barbara Province is meeting from June 23 to 28 at the Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale, Ariz.
► In Malta, Fr. Jeffrey Scheeler, OFM, the general visitor to St. Paul the Apostle Province and former St. John the Baptist provincial minister, wrote a letter to province members on the occasion of his appointment. In his June 6 letter, which is posted on the website of the Malta province, Fr. Jeff said that he “looks forward to experiencing the ‘extraordinary hospitality’ (Acts 28:2) of the Maltese people that St. Paul raved about during his shipwreck there!” In the Franciscan world, as a province prepares for an elective chapter – one at which a provincial minister is elected – the Order’s General Council appoints a general visitor to examine the governance and life of that province. General visitors lead the provincial chapter, certify election results, participate in designating assignments, and produce a detailed report for the General Curia on the state of the province. Last fall, Holy Name announced that that Fr. Stephen O’Kane, OFM, of Ireland had been appointed its general visitor as the community prepares for its Provincial Chapter in June 2020.
► On Memorial Day, 17 friars of St. John the Baptist Province were honored in Cincinnati for their anniversaries in religious life. The jubilarians were asked if they have a personal goal they would like to attain – or something they’d like to accomplish, big or small. Click the link above to see how they responded.
► St. John the Baptist Province is highlighting the work of Fr. Kenan Freson, OFM, who singlehandedly planted most of the trees seen around St. Anthony Shrine in Cincinnati. To commemorate Earth Day and Arbor Day, Fr. Kenan made a short video explaining how his love of nature blossomed into a one-man mission to reshape the landscape at the Shrine.
► St. Casimir Province in Lithuania reports that Lithuanian Bishop Paulius Antanas Baltakis, OFM, has died. He joined the Order in 1950 and was ordained a bishop in 1984. Forced into exile by the communists, he ministered for most of his life to Lithuanians living outside of the country. After living in Canada for 16 years, he moved to New York City to serve in pastoral ministry at a Lithuanian parish in Brooklyn. He reportedly visited almost all Lithuanian Catholic communities and parishes from Latin America to Poland and New Zealand to Central Asia. He was known for sending annual greetings to Lithuanians and foreign Lithuanians on Easter and Christmas via Vatican Radio. Upon Lithuania regaining its independence, Bishop Paulius became active with the Lithuanian Bishops’ Conference. He moved to the Franciscan Monastery in Kennebunkport, Me., in 2009 due to failing health, but returned in 2018 to Lithuania, where he died last month on May 17.
► In March, a group of pilgrims departed from Montreal for a journey to the Holy Land. It was the first time that an English-speaking group traveled under the leadership of the Commissariat of the Holy Land in Canada. Fr. Guylain Prince, OFM, of Holy Spirit Province, accompanies pilgrims annually to the Holy Land. French-speaking tours usually leave at the end of May or beginning of June. Information was posted on the Facebook page of Franciscans of Canada.
– Br. Jim is communications assistant for the HNP Communications Office and webmaster for US Franciscans. https://usfranciscans.org/
- “Serving as a General Visitor” — May 24, 2017, HNP Today
- “Irish Friar Appointed as Province’s General Visitor” – Oct. 2, 2018, HNP Today
- “ESC Friars Prepare to Serve as Visitors” — Nov. 30, 2016, HNP Today
- “HNP Safe Environment Policies,” HNP Website