Recent news from the Order of Friars Minor has covered a variety of topics ranging from ecology to education to feast days and photography. The October issue of Fraternitas, the Order’s international newsletter, highlights the celebration of the 2020 Season of Creation and the installation of solar panels at Mission San Luis Rey in California, and descriptions of new books.
The descriptions below summarize recent developments around the Order. Additional information can be found on the OFM website and by following the Order on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
► The General Council elected three Provincial Ministers from the English-speaking Conference who were not able to be elected in Provincial Chapters this year because of COVID-19: Anthony Chricop, OFM, of the Province of St. Paul the Apostle in Malta; Kevin Mullen, OFM, of Holy Name Province; and Ronald Walters, OFM, of Our Lady of Guadalupe Province, headquartered in New Mexico.
► Michael Perry, OFM, the Minister General of the Order, wrote a letter to the friars on the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi to commemorate the pope’s signing of the new encyclical, “Fratelli Tutti.” In his letter, Michael said, “We Friars Minor are particularly happy with the beautiful gift that Pope Francis has just given to the Church and to all men and women of goodwill, who will welcome the message of his new encyclical “Fratelli Tutti,” on Fraternity and Social Friendship. It is once again inspired by the words of the Poor Man of Assisi and in perfect continuity with the central message of “Laudato Si’”, in which the Holy Father taught us the importance of feeling interconnected and in communion with the whole of creation, assuming a vision of integral ecology.” Michael went on to say, “We welcome this powerful invitation to desire to be part of God’s Dream with great openness and determination. As the pope himself says, we dream of one humanity, as pilgrims in the same human flesh, as children of this same earth… each with the richness of his faith… each with his own voice, all brothers and sisters.”
► On Oct. 4, the ministers general of the three branches of the Franciscan Order released a letter to all the friars of the first order concerning the anniversary of the Earlier Rule. In their letter, they wrote, “When reading the Earlier Rule, one has the sensation of widening horizons, of opportunities that free the soul and refresh the heart, even after 800 years!” In writing about the Rule – which was not approved, but rather developed into the Rule that all friars today vow to live, the ministers general went on to say, “We do not have in hand some legislative text written at a desk, but something that was born in dialogue with life. What is most striking about this work of art, the Earlier Rule, is its passionate nature. Reading it, we can immediately see that it does not provide simple rules for doing things; rather, it tries to outline points for living relationships. It is not a text for scribes, but for disciples.”
► Last month, Michael Perry, OFM, referred to the global pandemic during his homily at La Verna on the feast day of the Stigmata of St. Francis of Assisi. The Order’s Minister General said, “Our human temptation might be to try to deny or run away from these crises affecting humans and the planet, but there is no place for us to hide. The new coronavirus has shown this to be true. We have only one true choice: to allow the crisis to draw us into a serious reflection on the quality of our individual and collective lives, with the hope that we might discover a new way of living and acting with God, with one another, with ourselves, and with the created universe reflective of our true identity.” During his Sept. 17 homily, he went on to say, “The wounds of Christ are the wounds of humanity and creation. We, like Francis, are invited to enter into this great feast not only to be spiritually consoled, but to be transformed into agents of the ‘new creation’ [and] messengers of love, universal fraternity, and restoration.”
► Every year, more than 10 million tourists visit the Basilica of the Sacré Coeur in Paris, the second most visited place in France after the Cathedral of Notre Dame. For the first time ever, an exhibit of 29 photographs of the Franciscans’ work in the Holy Land is on display for the general public. The photos are being exhibited on the fence surrounding the basilica. “This place is not only prestigious, but it is, above all, a place of prayer. I hope that the tourists and the French people who see the exhibition will carry in their prayers the Christian presence in the Holy Land,” said Stéphane Milovitch, OFM, the friar in charge of the department of cultural heritage of the Custody of the Holy Land, who took part in the inauguration. The recently appointed rector of the Basilica, Stéphane Esclef, OFM, also expressed satisfaction, saying, “I consider this exhibition like a spiritual twinning between the Holy Places and the Basilica of the Sacré Coeur in Montmartre. It follows on Pope Francis’s invitation to our Church to reach the outskirts of cities. Many tourists do not dare enter the Basilica. This exhibition is a message: the heart of Jesus must not remain confined inside the church. Photography can affect the exterior of the person, but at the same time reveal something important in the life of those who believe.”
► The Order’s website confirmed that The Economy of Francesco, the international event with young economists and entrepreneurs encouraged by the Holy Father, will be held Nov. 19 to 21. Given the ongoing state of the health emergency throughout the globe, the organizing committee, together with the Holy See, has decided to celebrate the event entirely online with live-streaming of the young participants and speakers. Pope Francis will also participate virtually. A subsequent meeting will be scheduled in autumn 2021 in Assisi when circumstances allow in-person participation. “The Economy of Francesco is a movement of young people with faces, personalities and ideas, which is present and growing around the world in order to change the current economy and give a soul to the economy of tomorrow,” according to a post on the website. “Today, more than ever, the world needs the creativity and love of young people, who as craftsmen of the future, are creating the Economy of Francesco, weaving between the ‘already’ and ‘not yet.’”
► On Aug. 31, the Commission on the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition announced the incorporation onto its website of the classic three-volume series on the life and mission of St. Francis, “Francis of Assisi: Early Documents,” along with a companion volume, “Clare of Assisi: Early Documents.” The original print compilation of the primary sources on the Franciscan movement, published between 1999 and 2001, was the work of Franciscan scholars Regis J. Armstrong, OFM Cap, J.A. Wayne Hellmann, OFM Conv, and William J. Short, OFM. A separate volume, “Clare of Assisi: Early Documents,” edited by Regis Armstrong, OFM Cap, was published in 2006. In addition to these translations, for the benefit of researchers and students, the online version also incorporates the original Latin texts. Dominic Monti, OFM, chair of the commission and overseer of this six-year project, noted the significance of the web version. “Our goal was to bring our foundational Franciscan sources to the widest possible audience, especially to people in countries around the world who do not have ready access to the print volumes. CFIT is very grateful to the Academy of American Franciscan History for several grants, which enabled us to bring this long project to fruition,” Dominic said.
► Last month, the Order’s JPIC Office in Rome began a Franciscan online course, “Laudato Si’ and Integral Ecology.” The course is aimed at those seeking to “gain insights into the major themes of Pope Francis’s groundbreaking encyclical, and who desire to become a part of the global Franciscan movement towards ecological conversion and systemic change.” Each of the 10 sessions of this online course consists of a video lecture, reading material, and short exam. The curriculum features a diverse group of presenters, among them theologians, scientists, teachers, and activists. It provides participants with different Franciscan perspectives, faith-based environmental activism, and Jewish and Muslim viewpoints about the practical implications of the encyclical “Laudato Si’.”
► Koinōnia, the Order’s newsletter for Secular Franciscans and the friars who serve as spiritual assistants to the seculars, recently published an article, “The Secular Franciscan and the Immigrant,” in which the authors write, “In the pontificate of Pope Francis, we are constantly reminded of the importance of taking care of migrants, a continuous challenge for all, both of the Church and of the politicians.”
► On Sept. 1, the World Day of Prayer for Care of Creation and the first day of the Season of Creation, the Order’s JPIC Office celebrated with the newly released rap song, “Laudato Si’ Revolution,” by Sandesh Manuel, OFM.
► Michael Perry, OFM, wrote a letter to the custos of the Holy Land Custody extending “prayers for, and solidarity with, the friars and the people of Lebanon following the recent explosions that rocked the city of Beirut.” In the letter, the Minister General of the Order wrote, “I appeal to the Franciscan entities of the Order to provide financial assistance where possible, working closely with the Custody, as it serves those in greatest need.”
— Jim McIntosh is a communications assistant for the HNP Communications Office and webmaster for usfranciscans.org.
- “Laudato Si’ Revolution: Creating a Movement Toward Radical Change and Hope” – Sept. 15, 2020, HNP Today
- “Province Announces New Leaders” – Aug. 13, 2020, HNP Today
- “General Chapter Change and Other OFM News” – Aug. 13, 2020, HNP Today
- “Season of Creation” — Oct. 31, 2019, HNP Today
- “Franciscan Intellectual Project Progresses” – April 15, 2015, HNP Today