Reconfiguration Talks Continue in North America

Maria Hayes Franciscan World


Representatives from the Canadian provinces and the Ontario foundation gathered earlier this month to discuss future collaboration. (Photo courtesy of the English-speaking Conference)

The following is a compilation of this month’s news from the website and Facebook page of the English-speaking Conference of the Order of Friars Minor, composed of provinces from Canada, England, Ireland, Lithuania, Malta and the United States.

The Franciscan Interprovincial Team met last month with representatives of friars solemnly professed less than 10 years from six of the seven U.S. provinces. Erick Lopez, OFM, of St. Camillus Parish in Maryland, was among those who gathered at Serra House to share what they most value about Franciscan life and what their hopes are for the future.

Among their top priorities was the quality of fraternal life. “Where they live and work seems to be much less important to them than how they and their brothers live and work together,” noted the FIT members.

The FIT also distributed the first of the friar surveys and began studying how much it currently costs to run seven provinces, as well as how much it might cost were there fewer provinces to finance. The team, formed earlier this year, is also crafting a template for provincial model making and creating rough outlines for possible models for reconfiguration in the U.S.

Across America’s northern border, the Canadian OFM Interprovincial Commission for renewal and restructuring held its second meeting from June 5 to 6 in Québec. The commission was formed in 2014 to explore the possibility of reconfiguring the Franciscan presence in Canada.

In a November 2014 letter from the administrations of St. Joseph Province, Christ the King Province, and the Ontario Foundation of the Immaculate Conception Province, the friars noted that the Canadian friars are aging and their numbers are decreasing. At the time the letter was published, there were 60 friars in St. Joseph Province, with a median age of 78, and 32 friars in Christ the King Province, with a median age of 75. The Ontario Foundation, staffed by Immaculate Conception Province, has 16 friars serving in the Toronto area.

The friars participating on the interprovincial commission are Fr. Pierre Charland, OFM, of St. Joseph’s Province, Fr. Pierre Ducharme, OFM, of Christ the King Province, and Fr. Rohwin Pais, OFM, of Immaculate Conception Province’s Ontario Foundation. Joining them is Doug Clorey, OFS, former vice-minister general of the Secular Franciscan Order and current president of the board of directors of Franciscans International.

Clorey will facilitate the commission’s meetings as well as a chapter of mats for all friars in Canada that will be held Sept. 20 to 22 at St. Francis Centre in Caledon, Ontario. General Minister Fr. Michael Perry, OFM, and English-speaking Definitor Fr. Caoimhin O’Laoide, OFM, will be in attendance.

Other news from the English-speaking Conference includes:

  • Our Lady of Guadalupe’s Annual Provincial Assembly that took place from June 15 to 18 at Nativo Lodge in Albuquerque, N.M.
  • The return of Fr. Frank Walter, OFM, of Immaculate Conception Province, to the United States, after 11 years as a definitor in Rome
  • Final reflections about the General Chapter from the provincials and delegates

Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.