Due to the meeting of the General Definitory with the General Visitors, the opening of the working sessions was brought forward to Friday, 8 November. Since the Minister General was still absent, the Vicar General, Br. Julio César BUNADER, presided over the meetings.
The first session was entirely devoted to sharing on the activity carried out by the members of the General Definitory in the weeks after the Tempo Forte in September.
During the following sessions, some issues related to the personnel of the Houses of Rome dependent on the General Minister (General Curia, International College of St. Anthony and College of Lateran Penitentiaries) were discussed.
Br. Estevão OTTENBREIT was elected Visitator General to the Fraternity of the College of Penitentiaries of the Papal Archbasilica of St. John Lateran.
Several dossiers were dealt with from the General Procurator’s Office, including the following requests for:
information on accusations concerning graviora delicta (2);
information re friars in more uxorio relationships (2);
dispensation from the obligations deriving from the clerical state and solemn vows (3);
secularisation pure et simpliciter (2);
dispensation from solemn vows (3)
dispensation from temporary vows (1).
The candidates for service as Minister Provincial for the Province of St. Francis of Assisi in Vietnam were approved.
The Acts of the elections that took place were ratified:
in the Chapter of the Province of St. Francis in Brazil (Porto Alegre);
in the “intermediate” chapters (election of Definitors) of the Provinces of St. Francis in Quito (Ecuador), St. Philip of Jesus (Mexico) and St. Francis Solanus (Argentina);
in the Capitular Congresses of 6 Provinces and 1 Custody;
extra-capitular: 10 Guardians in four different entities.
Eight Reports presented by the Visitators General at the end of their service were analysed and discussed; so too was the Report on the situation of the two Apostolic Vicariates of Libya, entrusted to the care of the Minister General.
The General Definitory met with Br. John PUODZIUNAS, General Treasurer, who presented the 2020 Budget for the Houses and Entities that are headed by the General Curia; other economic and financial issues were also discussed.
The General Secretariat for Formation and Studies, represented by Br. Cesare VAIANI and Br. Siniša BALJIĆ, shared with the Definitory the activities carried out and presented the outlook on some projects and proposals.
Br. Witosław J. STYK, head of the organising committee of the Chapter of Mats of the Friars Under 10, held from 7 to 14 July 2019 in Taizé, France, shared an evaluation of the event with the Definitory. In general, it was much appreciated by the participants, despite some logistical difficulties that emerged during the Chapter.
In addition, the General Definitory examined the Evaluation Report of the first ongoing formation course organized by the Inter-obediential Fraternity of Emmaus-Qubeibe (Holy Land) in October of this year, which was attended by eight Brothers (6 OFMConv and 2 OFM), who were very satisfied with the experience.
On 15 and 16 November, the Chapter of Mats of the Friars Living in the Houses of Rome Dependent on the Minister General took place at the Shrine of Our Lady of Divino Amore in Rome. About sixty Friars took part in this event, including the members of the General Definitory.
From 18 to 22 November, the General Definitory met with twenty General Visitators at the General Curia who are engaged in the Canonical Visitation of twenty entities preparing to celebrate their Chapter.
The next Tempo Forte will take place from 12 to 18 December and will be primarily a fraternal occasion to review the annual work of the General Definitory.
To the praise of Christ and the Poverello of Assisi. Amen!
“The fruit of righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever”. (Is. 32:17)
In recent weeks we have witnessed a series of socio-political events that have taken place in Latin America, particularly in Ecuador, Chile and Bolivia, and not least Lebanon, among other countries in the Middle East, which are also going through challenging times. Such events account for the discontent of a large part of the population with the political system or with the economic system (Cf. Evangelii Gaudium n.60) – or both – in the respective countries. But above all, discontent and frustration increase with inequality, iniquity and corruption: Pope Francis has called it “social cancer”.
People – without fear – have taken to the streets to express their discontent publicly and to demand dignity. On some occasions, acts of violence have been unleashed between demonstrators and the security forces. We have witnessed the looting and destruction of shops, public and religious bodies, but what pains us most and worries us is the violence perpetrated against so many men and women, violence that has led to the loss of life itself. We are concerned about the normalization of violence and repression as a means of resolving conflict. “The joy of living frequently fades, lack of respect for others and violence are on the rise, and inequality is increasingly evident. It is a struggle to live and, often, to live with precious little dignity” (Cf. EG n.52).
We invite all those involved, especially democratically elected governments, to rise to the occasion by fostering dialogue and encounter. We encourage our Franciscan brothers and the Franciscan Family to pray and to be actively involved with the people in their just demands, opening our parishes, convents, schools and shrines to shared prayer, creative dialogue, and a sincere search for peace without prejudice. Let us remember that “a Church which “goes forth” is a Church whose doors are open” (Cf. EG. 46).
Our Franciscan spirituality continually invites us to be bridges, promoters and agents of dialogue; builders of humanity. We have had news of how the friars of Chile and Bolivia have been involved in the social developments of recent weeks. We encourage them to continue accompanying and supporting the weakest in society. As a General Definitory, we are with you and with all the people of goodwill who seek a more just and fraternal society.
For many years the General Spiritual Assistants for the Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) and Franciscan Youth (YouFra) have been dreaming of hosting an international formation course for national spiritual assistants together in one place. With the help of the four General Ministers (OFM, OFMCONV, OFMCAP, TOR), the Conference of National Spiritual Assistants of USA, the National Fraternity of South Korea and the Presidency of International Council of the Secular Franciscan Order (CIOFS), the dream was finally realized on 10-15 November 2019.
The formation course was held at the Seraphicum College of the Conventual Friars in Laurentina (Rome) with the attendance of friars from all four Obediences in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, South America. The highlight of the week was the presence of Br. Carlos Alberto Trovarelli, General Minister of the Conventuals (representing the Conference of General Ministers), Br. Amando Trujillo Cano TOR, former General Spiritual Assistant and now TOR General Minister, Tibor Kauser OFS, General Minister of OFS/YouFra, and Ana Fruk, a member of the OFS Presidency council. Their presence meant a lot to the participants, especially the valuable time all the speakers gave as they shared their knowledge, experiences and love for the OFS/YouFra.
The course was meant to awaken not simply the knowledge about the OFS/YouFra, but also to reenkindle within the assistants the love for their service as spiritual assistants, bearing in mind that knowledge is fundamental for a better and a proper service but one should always avoid the temptations to remain at the level of the mind without connecting to the heart.
It is hoped that all the topics dealt during the course will be shared among the brothers and sisters all over the world who could not be present for various reasons. It is the responsibility of every spiritual assistant to seriously take the words of St. Francis of Assisi “let us begin again, for until now we have done nothing” by engaging oneself in ongoing formation so that all spiritual assistants to OFS and YouFra can be counted among those “suitable and well-prepared persons appointed for the service of spiritual assistance.” (OFS GGCC art. 88.1)
2019 has marked the 800th Anniversary of the meeting between St. Francis of Assisi and Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil. There have been celebrations, declarations, dialogues, prayers and presentations the world over to mark this occasion. On November 20, Franciscans from Mount St. Francis (Holy Spirit Province Canada) along with the Calgary Interfaith Council and the Calgary Chapter of the Order of St. Lazarus marked this historic event in Calgary, at the B’nai Tikvah Synagogue.
Over one hundred people were inspired and encouraged by the presentations of Br. Jason Welle, OFM, Dean of the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies, Rome and Imam Fayaz Tilly, Chaplain, University of Calgary.
Br. Jason opened the evening with a historical perspective of the encounter between St. Francis and the Sultan. His thought-provoking presentation wove together the facts and truths we know of the encounter, addressed the unknowns of the conversation and reminded those present that the encounter is a “sign of hope in dark ages both then and now.” Br. Jason proposed that this encounter is beyond inter-religious dialogue, it is deeper than friendship, rather it is about brotherhood and sisterhood. Human fraternity is the strongest message of the encounter between St. Francis of Assisi and Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil, one that Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmad Al-Tayyeb addressed in their joint document “Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together.”
Imam Fayaz Tilly continued on in this same strain as he echoed what Br. Jason had highlighted from the document, “In the name of God who has created all human beings equal in rights, duties and dignity, and who has called them to live together as brothers and sisters, to fill the earth and make known the values of goodness, love and peace.” Imam Fayaz in his story-telling enthusiasm reminded the participants that on this planet, “we are one community – one fraternity of brotherhood and sisterhood.” Tilly offered insights and reflections from “prophets” of our times including Mohamad Ali and Mother Teresa as a means of highlighting the greatness of our human fraternity. He highlighted that Islam teaches that we are brother and sister called to love and that like St. Francis of Assisi we must make our walking our preaching.
Both Br. Jason and Imam Fayaz Tilly left those in attendance with the gift of hope. A hope that lives within each of us and calls us to live each day as brother and sister part of the human fraternity – one race which must “continue the conversation and brave the dialogue.”