Year of Protomartyrs Closes and Other News of the Order

Jim McIntosh OFM Franciscan World

The February issue of Fraternitas, the Order’s international newsletter, features the conclusion of the celebration of the 800 years of the Protomartyrs and other current Franciscan topics of interest. The year-long commemoration of the 800th anniversary of the deaths of the Franciscan Protomartyrs began on Jan. 16, 2020, and ended on Jan. 17, 2021. Although the pandemic muted most of the planned activities, a handful of meetings and events took place. As the observance of the Protomartyrs came to a close, the centenary of St. Anthony’s arrival in Italy was just beginning. Fraternitas also reports on the joint letter distributed by the US-6 provincial ministers about the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. In addition, the Order’s February newsletter reviews new Franciscan books, including “’Non enim fuerat Evangelii surdus auditor…’ (1 Celano 22): Essays in Honour of Michael W. Blastic, OFM, on the Occasion of his 70th Birthday,” which was edited by Michael Cusato, OFM, and Steven J. McMichael, OFM Conv.

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

► On Jan. 1, Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, the prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, confirmed the three-year appointment of Leonardo Sileo, OFM, as rector of the Pontifical Urbaniana University. The cardinal’s confirmation validated Fr. Leonardo’s election by the academic senate and the university’s professors. Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, the grand chancellor of the university and prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, announced the appointment and thanked Fr. Leonardo for his work and service in his first term of office – in particular, dealing with the challenges caused by the pandemic. Fr. Leonardo began his teaching career in 1986 at the Pontifical Antonianum Athenaeum. He moved to the Urbaniana in 1998, and in 2013 he became a full professor in the philosophy department and also held the history of medieval philosophy chair. A member of the Immaculate Conception Province of Salerno, Italy, he also served as director of the Urbaniana University Press.

► The friars of the Province of St. Michael the Archangel in Indonesia, including the Foundation of East Timor, accepted the invitation in Pope Francis’ latest encyclical, “Fratelli Tutti,” by designating 2021 as a special year of fraternity for the entire province. In his opening remarks, Mikael Peruhe, OFM, the provincial minister of 135 solemnly professed friars, underscored the importance of the encyclical for the Indonesian Church. He also encouraged the friars to live the encyclical in their communities and various forms of pastoral service – and especially as living witness to those who are sick and abandoned due to Covid-19. Thirteen contemplative fraternities-in-mission – the term for local friar fraternities – from the various islands and regions of Indonesia and East Timor made a brief video presentation that featured the people’s songs, dances, and prayers. A song was composed by Stanislaus Sukartanto, OFM, called “Kita Satu Keluarga,” translated as “We Are One Family.” Missionary friars in Thailand, Istanbul, and the Holy Land also participated, while some of the 85 friars in the St. Michael Province formation program shared videos.

► Rufino Lim, OFM, who worked as the assistant in the Order’s JPIC Office in Rome since 2016, was elected as provincial vicar of the Province of the Korean Martyrs. The election to his new post resulted in a staffing change at the Curia. Angelito Cortez, OFM, of St. Peter Baptist Province in the Philippines, was appointed as the new assistant in the JPIC Office. Angelito, a member of the Order’s JPIC Animation Committee who also serves as justice, peace, and integrity of creation animator of his province and the East Asian Conference, joins Jaime Campos, OFM, director of the JPIC Office – which publishes the Contact newsletter, available on the JPIC office’s website.

► In US-6 news, the friars of Wisconsin-based Assumption Blessed Virgin Mary Province have closed their monastery in Cedar Lake, Indiana. The friars are in search of a smaller house in the area since they will continue to serve the Cedar Lake community. The friars of Our Lady of Guadalupe Province, based in Albuquerque, recently announced that they will depart from St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Gallup, New Mexico. They plan to return custody of the parish to the Diocese of Gallup in June, according to a letter published in the January issue of The Padres Trail newsletter.

► In other U.S. news, the January newsletter of Immaculate Conception Province, headquartered in New York City, provides an update about the four IC Province novices at the novitiate in Assisi and the friars at the post-novitiate house in Rome. It also reports that Gloria Cassese, an affiliate of the province and the secretary of its provincial office for more than 50 years, has died. She was the sister-in-law of the former provincial, now deceased John-Marie Cassese, OFM. Friars can find the IC newsletter, as well as those of other U.S. provinces, in the friars-only section of the US Franciscans website.

— Br. Jim McIntosh is a communications assistant for the HNP Communications Office.