The Missionszentrale der Franziskaner (MZF, Franciscan Mission Centre), the Germany-based Franciscan organization for aid in Africa, Asia and Latin America, celebrated their 50th anniversary on the 6th – 8th of September 2019. The General Definitorium, two Brazilian bishops, the State Premier of the Nordrhein-Westfalen were invited along with 600 guests at the Stadthalle Bad Godesberg.
The following days were dedicated to the presentation of projects for various countries at the MZF headquarters. More than 17,000 projects have been funded over the past 50 years. The jubilee celebration concluded with Mass in the church of St. Remigio in Bonn followed by a reception by the mayor of the city in the historic town hall of Bonn.
Afterwards, the General Definitory met with the Transalpine Franciscan Conference (COTAF), which oversees MZF. Franciscan identity, fraternal life in the region, contemplative missionary fraternities and questions about the whole Order were discussed in the meeting. The friars also took the occasion to visit Cologne Cathedral to pray at the tomb of the blessed Franciscan theologian, John Duns Scotus.
A conference on “Voices from the Amazon: Land, People, and Religion” will spark deep conversations and ideas at the Auditorium Antonianum in Rome on 5 October 2019, one day before the synod begins.
The conference will include Mons. Hector Cabrejos, OFM, President of the Episcopal Conference of Latin America, Br. Julio Bunader, Vicar General of the Order of Friars Minor, Patricia Gualinga, Sarayaku Leader, Ecuador, and many more.
This conference is an opportunity to discuss the synod with synodal fathers and indigenous leaders one day before it begins. Seating is limited–please register as soon as possible.
IMPORTANT: The conference will be held in Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. English translation will not be provided.
8.15 Registration and Greetings
9.00 Opening and Introductions Moderator: Agustin Hernandez, Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy, Antonianum Pontifical University Speakers:
Professor Mary Melone, Rettore Magnifico Antonianum Pontifical University
Fr. Michael Perry, OFM, General Minister of the Order of Friars Minor
S.E. Signa. María Elvira Velásquez Rivas-Plata, Ambassador of Peru to the Holy See
S.E. Jorge Mario Eastman, Ambassador of Colombia to the Holy See
Dr. Fabio Espitia Garzón. Attorney General of Colombia
10.00 Testimonials Moderator: Sara Muzzi – Secretary of the Italian Center di Lullismo, Antonianum Pontifical University Speakers:
Patricia Gualinga, Sarayaku Leader, Ecuador
Sister Laura Vicuña, Amazonian indigenous community, Brazil
Gregorio Diaz Mirabal, President of COICA
Fr. João Messias Sousa, OFM Munduruku Leader, Brazil
14.00 Synodal Church for Integral Ecology and Laudato Si’ Moderator: Tomás Insua, Executive Director of the Global Catholic Climate Movement Speakers:
Sarah duPont, Producer and Co-Director, “River of Gold”
Mons. Hector Cabrejos, OFM, President of the Episcopal Conference of Latin America
Tania Ávila, Coordinator of the Amerindian Network–Cochabamba and Indigenous Theologian
Deacon Alirio Cáceres, CELAM integral ecology program & Global Catholic Climate Movement
15.30 Closing remarks: Fr. Valmir Ramos, Order of Friars Minor General Definitor
Homily of the Vicar General for the Feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis of Assisi
La Verna – 17 September 2019
By climbing this sacred mountain, we naturally want to draw the message that the Lord continues to give us in this place where He makes His presence felt. It is, therefore, He Himself who summons us today: Friars Minor, the Franciscan family, and all the people of God. I would like to emphasize in particular three dimensions of what happened to St. Francis here at La Verna, concerning this precise place which is: 1) place of silence/solitude; 2) place of the cross/passion; 3) place of the joy of the blessed.
Place of silence/solitude. Francis’ life was entirely centred on “observing the holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rb 1:1). In order to be ready to welcome the Lord, he took long periods that he loved to call “Lent”, times dedicated to prayer and fasting. On this mountain of La Verna, in September 1224, the Saint withdrew for one of these times of silence and solitude, of more intense prayer during which he received the stigmata. Here we find a beautiful icon of the desert, both exterior (around us) and interior (within us).
Place of the Cross/Passion. Saint Bonaventure defines Francis as “man of the Gospel” (LM 13:1), who embraced the Cross of Christ at the beginning of his conversion. From that moment on he will always carry the Cross and the Passion of the Lord “giving example to others, with such clarity of certitude” thus reaching “the summit of Gospel perfection”, (LM 13:10).
Place of the joy of the blessed. Celano describes Francis’ experience at the moment of the apparition, saying that: “ When the blessed servant of the most High saw these things, he was filled with the greatest awe, but could not decide what this vision meant for him. Moreover, he greatly rejoiced and was much delighted by the kind and gracious look that he saw the Seraph gave him” (1Cel 94). Here are the gifts received: joy, delight, beauty and sweetness. The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 15/16) helps us to meditate on this experience of Francis.
It is my intention to provide you with an update of progress achieved on my long road to recovery. But first, I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude for your prayers, emails, cards, and for the many other ways you have demonstrated your care and support for me following a very serious bicycle accident. Your support has provided me with so much courage and strength. I will continue to count on your support and prayers for the coming months.
I continue physiotherapy three times a week for three hours each day. In the meantime, I cannot put any weight on my left leg as I await the healing of the acetabula, a part of the pelvis that serves to hold the ball joint of the femur in its place. It was this part of the pelvis that was broken into thirty-one pieces. Under the best of circumstances, if this bone heals properly, I should be able to return progressively to a normal life but will need to reduce some activities for the coming 8-10 months. If the bone does not heal correctly, there is a strong likelihood that I will require further surgery sometime in the near future to replace the hip. I will meet with the orthopedic surgeon again on October 15 and hope to have a better idea of how the bone is healing.
I do not have any other information to provide at this time. I simply wish to repeat an expression of my gratitude to each of you, and to the Brothers of the Fraternity of St. Peter’s in Chicago and my home Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus for their support for me on this journey. Thanks also to my Conventual, Capuchin, and Third Order Regular Brothers, to the Poor Clares, the Conceptionists, Secular Franciscan Brothers and Sisters, and countless others who are supporting me with their prayers. May God bless each and every one of you. Special greetings also to my Brothers of the Fraternity of Santa Maria Mediatrice (the Curia fraternity) in Rome.
May God allow each of us to pursue our calling to follow the Gospel with gratitude and joy each moment of our lives.
Chicago, September 16, 2019
Br. Michael A. Perry, OFM Minister General and Servant
The Special Commission of the Order for dialogue with Islam organized the Seventh International Franciscan Congress amid Islam that took place in Istanbul from 9 to 15 September 2019.
The Congress seeks to commemorate the 8th Centenary of the Meeting of St. Francis of Assisi with Sultan Malik Al-Kamil in Damietta. This meeting brought together a group of 20 Franciscan brothers, sisters and laypeople working in interfaith dialogue with Islam, from the USA, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Morocco and Pakistan at the Convent of Santa Maria in Draperis in Istanbul.
The reflections during the Congress examined St. Francis’s meeting with the Sultan from the Franciscan Sources as well as from the experience of eight centuries of meetings and testimonies of many Franciscan brothers and sisters concerning Islam. The work done by Francis of Assisi becomes, for our world today, a model and prophecy of peace and an encounter with the other, according to the spirit of chapter XVI of the Earlier Rule of St. Francis.