SFO General Chapter Meets in Hungary

Richard Trezza, OFM Franciscan World

DOBOGOKO, Hungary — The Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) held its General Elective Chapter here in November, at the Jesuit Manresa Conference Center. I attended as an observer and translator.

Hungary was chosen as the host site because SFO was closing its 800thanniversary of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, patron of the SFO.

One hundred and fourteen  people attended, with 70 capitulars voting. Besides electing the General Minister and the International Council (CIOFS), the General Chapter discussed two topics — “The Sense of Belonging to the SFO” and “The Meaning of Profession in the SFO.”

Minister General Re-Elected
Encarnación del Pozo from Spain was elected General Minister for a second term, and Doug Clorey from Canada was elected Vice General Minister. The council is a diversified group of people from all over the world. It was inspiring to see how quickly people brought about a truly fraternal atmosphere, considering that four major languages are spoken — English, Spanish, Italian and French.

Americans at the meeting included Anne Mulqueen, a member of a Holy Name Province bonded fraternity in Baltimore, who was the U.S. councilor for CIOFS. Others included Bob and Mary Stronach, SFO, from Marcy, N.Y. Mary translated and Bob took photos.

The Chapter included a trip to the cathedral in Esztergom, where we celebrated Mass with the retired Primate of Hungary,  Cardinal Laszlo Paskai, OFM, and closed our 800th centenary of Elizabeth. On the same day, the Chapter heard two addresses.

01-07-09-Hungary-LGTwo Presentations Given
Emanuela DeNunzio, former General Minister of the SFO, spoke of belonging. She said: “The crisis of belonging (to a family, a nation, a church) is pervasive in our society, and that seculars must understand their unique role and identity in the Church and be responsible for the furthering of the charism in the Church and the world.”

Fr. Felice Cangelosi, OFM Cap., spoke on the mystery of SFO profession. In his passionate delivery, he reminded us: “The Church recognizes Secular Franciscans as belonging to a real Order … Their profession to live the Gospel life is so extraordinary that, it too, is regarded as a sacred act that is no less important than the profession that friars and sisters make.”

The talks, which are excellent topics for formation, are available for download at www.ciofs.org the Secular Franciscan site.

We also spent a day in Budapest, where we saw the sights and were treated to lunch by the National Hungarian Fraternity, complete with Hungarian pastries and wines.

We returned home, hoping that the challenges presented would be shared with those here, and that a new sense of belonging and understanding of the obligations of profession would bring new life to the Order and the Church.

According to the December 2008 issue of Fraternitas, there are approximately 450,000 Secular Franciscans organized in 63 national constituted fraternities.

— Fr. Richard is the Proivincial spiritual assistant for Holy Name Province. .