PADUA, Italy — Six OFM provinces in northern Italy unified last month, forming the new Province of San Antonio. More than 250 friars attended the celebration, led by General Minister Fr. Michael Perry, OFM, and Br. Massimo Fusarelli, delegate of the General Minister and General Visitor of the six provinces.
The first part of the celebration was held in the Church of San Francesco Grande. The General Minister‘s decree “suppressing the six provinces was read after a brief and lively history of the Franciscan presence in northern Italy since the time of St. Francis,” according to the Order‘s website.
The six provincial ministers returned their provincial seal to the General Minister and asked forgiveness of their failings. The General Minister absolved them from their office and imposed a healthy penance on them. After the singing of the Magnificat, the friars left the church and, in silent procession, traveled to the Basilica of St. Anthony.
There, the decree was read proclaiming the creation of the new Province of San Antonio. This was followed by the announcement of Fr. Mario Favretto, OFM, as the new provincial minister. After taking his oath and the procession of faith, Fr. Mario “received the embrace and obedience of a very long and festive row of friars,” according to the Order‘s website. The names of Provincial Vicar Fr. Mario Vaccari, OFM, and the provincial council were read, and the morning ended with a liturgy celebrated by Fr. Michael and concelebrated by the newly elected administration and outgoing provincial ministers. In the afternoon, approximately 70 friars began the first chapter of the new province.
In other news from the Order, the General Minister submitted a report last month to the General Definitorium and the 14 conference presidents. It focused on what the friars are experiencing in response to new challenges facing the Friars Minor in various places.
The report listed eight possible focal points for the renewal of Franciscan life and mission to enable the Order to be:
- An Order whose brothers seek to renew daily their relationship with Jesus Christ
- An Order seeking a path of humility and simplicity of life
- An Order characterized by a spirit of dialogue in all areas
- An Order that is constantly renewing its missionary spirit
- An Order deeply engaged in the struggle against all forms of social sin
- An Order engaged in human labor
- An Order that encourages every avenue of collaboration between the conferences, provinces and entities
- An Order that nourishes itself on the hope and dream that “all may be one”
In other news from around the world, the friars in Aleppo, Syria, continue to ask for prayers. On May 21, a missile hit the College “Terre Sainte.” An elderly and infirm woman was killed and two others were seriously injured. Panic and terror struck the other 20 women who had been hosted in the convent after their retirement home was bombed a year ago, and now the friars do not know how or where to accommodate them.
“This friary is so dear and loved by many people of the city, especially to the families who come here every day to take a break and to recover” from the ongoing conflict, according to the Order‘s website. The friars ask that their brothers around the world “join in our prayer for everybody and for all this pain and suffering to end, so that, instead of hatred, peace and love may reign.”
Other news from the Franciscan Order and the June issue of the Fraternitas newsletter includes:
- Peacemaking efforts made by the Franciscan friars in Pakistan with the governor of Punjab, India
- A video about the 800th anniversary of the Pardon of Assisi
- Fr. Michael’s visit with friars living and working in Cuba
- The nominations of Fr. Francisco Neri Minor Vargas, OFM, as bishop of Huanuco in Peru and Bishop Genadijus Linas Vodopjanovas, OFM, as bishop of Panevezys, Lithuania
- The appointment of Fr. Francesco Patton, OFM, as the new custos of the Holy Land
— Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.
- “Immaculate Conception Province Elects New Provincial, Other News from ESC” — May 18, 2016, HNP Today
- “Antonianum Partners with Research University to Expand Franciscan Scholarship, Other News from Order” — May 4, 2016, HNP Today