This edition No. 54 of “Communion and Communication” is devoted to high-lighting the opportunities given to our Communities, thanks to our belonging to a Federation/ Association.
Many years have passed since the promulgation of the Apostolic Constitution Sponsa Christi Ecclesia which «advocated the birth of the Federations as structures of communion» (Cor Orans, Introduction). Now we have been blessed with the Apostolic Constitution Vultum Dei quærere, in which Pope Francis proposes «to present in Vultum Dei quærere the intense and fruitful path taken by the Church in the last decades, in the light of the teachings of the same Council and considering the changed socio-cultural conditions» (ibid). Most part of our Federations have already a story written for many decades.
We invited Sisters from different geographic areas to share their positive and constructive experiences, lived and organized in their Federations/Associations.
As a true response to God’s call at this time, we encourage one another to walk this fraternal path that the Church is asking of us.
Thanks to all the Sisters who shared their thoughts and living stories.
Thanks to all of you who welcome and read these pages.
The General Definitory began its meetings on Friday, September 13th, 2019. The Vicar General, Br. Julio César BUNADER presided because of the absence of the Minister General who has been engaged in a course of physiotherapy in Chicago (U.S.A.) since his accident on August 15th last.
Issues regarding personnel in the houses in Rome dependent on the Minister General were dealt with — the General Curia, St. Anthony’s International College, and the Lateran Penitentiary. Some Final Reports submitted by General Visitators at the end of their Canonical Visitations were presented and studied.
The following General Visitators were elected:
Br. Walter SCHREIBER, for the Custody of Our Lady of the Seven Joys, Brazil;
Br. Sebastião Agostinho KREMER, for the Custody of Saint Clare, Mozambique;
Br. Sergiusz BAŁDYGA, for the Pontifical University Antonianum;
Br. Cesare VAIANI, for the Pontifical International Marian Academy, Rome;
Br. Ignacio CEJA JIMENEZ, as Assistant to the Visitation of the Custody of the Caribbean, dependent on the Province of Arantzazu, Spain.
A number of files from the Office of the General Procurator were discussed, including the following requests for:
information regarding accusations of graviora delicta (3);
dismissals from the Order (2);
dispensation from the obligations of the clerical state and from Solemn Vows (1);
secularisation ad experimentum (2);
indults of exclaustration for one, two, or three years (9);
dispensation from Temporary Vows (1).
Candidates for the office of Minister Provincial were approved for three Entities that will shortly celebrate their Provincial Chapters.
The Acts of Elections were ratified for the following:
The Chapter of the Province of the Assumption (Rio de la Plata), Argentina;
The “intermediate” Chapter (the election of Definitors) of the Province of Santa Barbara, USA;
The Capitular Congresses of 4 Provinces;
Extra-Capitular elections of 7 Guardians and a Provincial Treasurer.
The General Definitory met with Br. John PUODZIUNAS, General Treasurer, to work out some details with a view to the drawing up of the 2020 budget for the houses and entities under the General Curia.
The Definitory participated in the annual Ongoing Formation programme of the General Curia fraternity from September 25th to 27th.
The next Tempo Forte will take place from November 8th to 22nd. From November 18th to 22nd, the General Definitory will meet with the General Visitators who will be engaged in carrying out Canonical Visitation in many Entities of the Order in the coming months. The Visitators will receive training during their time at the Curia.
To the praise of Christ and the Poverello of Assisi. Amen!
The brothers and sisters of the Franciscan Family who participated in the Synod for the Amazon region gathered in the Generalate of the Friars Minor in Rome for a time of fraternity. On 24th October the group went to the Church of Santa Maria Mediatrice where they prayed Vespers together with the fraternity and shared dinner in an atmosphere of brotherhood and joy.
There were 30 members of the Franciscan Family present at the Synod, including 3 cardinals, 17 bishops, 4 sisters, 4 friars and 2 sisters of the Secular Franciscan Order. Coming from different countries, they were “synod fathers”, auditors and experts. The Synod, which had as its central theme the defence of the life of peoples, biodiversity and our “common home”, reached an extensive diagnosis and produced a final document with specific proposals for “new paths for the church and for an integral ecology”.
I am pleased once again to have the opportunity to write to you to provide an update regarding the rehabilitation process in which I am involved. On October 15, I visited the orthopedic surgeon who performed the initial operation to reconstruct part of my pelvis, the acetabulum. According to the X-rays, the bone is slowly knitting itself back together, thanks to your prayers and support, to a program of rest and non-weight bearing for the left leg, and, of course, to the thirty-one screws and two plates that help hold everything together. I must continue to avoid putting weight on my left leg at least until the end of the month of November. If all goes well, I should be able to slowly increase weight on the left leg through the month of December. I continue to go to physical therapy three times a week to work on muscle strength, flexibility, and overall strength.
One concern remains: whether there is sufficient cartilage in the joint of the left hip to allow for free movement of the head of the femur in the pelvic joint. There are no tests to determine this. It will be revealed as I put increasing weight on the left leg and slowly recover the ability to walk without the assistance of a walker or crutches. There is a possibility that at some point I might require a second surgery to do what is called a total hip replacement should the cartilage have been severely compromised. Please keep this special intention in your prayers.
During this time of convalescence, I have received so many messages of support and care from you my dear Brothers, from Brothers of the other First Order, from our dear Poor Ladies of the Second Order, and from members of the Order of Secular Franciscans. I am so grateful to each of you, and to others who have expressed concern and offered spiritual support to accompany my rehabilitation.
As we follow the Special Synod of Bishops on the Amazon, let us remember to keep the people of the greater Amazon basin region in our prayers. While the Church discusses issues vital to the future survival of indigenous peoples, of the environment in the region and the global implications of not taking care to protect it, and the future of evangelization and the Church’s mission, detractors continue to challenge the orthodoxy of Pope Francis, the local Church in the nine countries, and that of the people of God who have, despite all of the obstacles they face, remain faithful to the teachings of Jesus Christ handed on to us through the Apostles. Let us pray that God who is all merciful and gracious might help all who profess faith in Jesus Christ, who are members of the Church, and other Christians to move from a mere verbal profession of our faith to actually putting it into practice in our lives. Pope Francis’ encyclical on integral ecology, grounded in a biblical and theological vision consistent with the teaching of the Church, continues to inspire even as it challenges. This is especially true for those of us who profess faith in Jesus Christ and who follow the example of St. Francis of Assisi who recognized the inter-connectedness of all things that begins and is sustained by God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a relation of Trinity expressed, according to our own St. Bonaventure, in and through the created universe.
Let us also pray for our Franciscan members, for the Church and for the people of God in countries where civil unrest and conflict are dividing people, resulting in the destruction of life and property. Let us remember in a special way Haiti, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, South Sudan, Egypt, Sudan, Benin, the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong, Syria, and other parts of the world in need of our prayer and our solidarity.
May God continue to bless each of you my dear Brothers of the Order, and all members of the Franciscan family. Let us pray for one another as together we strive to put into practice our faith. I wish to once again express my deepest gratitude to Bro. Julio Bunader, Vicar General who is acting in my place, to the members of the General Definitorium, to the secretary general and to all Ministers (Provincials, Custos, Presidents) who daily lay down their lives for their Brothers.
Wishing you all of God’s spiritual blessings!
Chicago, October 18, 2019
Fraternally yours in Christ and St. Francis,
Br. Michael A. Perry, OFM Minister General and Servant
Five years ago, the Poor Clares in Galway (Ireland) published a book of prayers and meditations called “Calm the Soul”. One of the most popular prayers in the book also gave the book its title. That simple poem ‘Calm the Soul’ touched people so deeply that the Sisters thought that a musical setting could make it more widely accessible. They began to experiment with various tunes and came up with a melody that draws on the musical motifs of a traditional Irish love song, and it seems to really capture the mood of the poem. Now the Poor Clares, along with their collaborators — including Franciscan friars — have a hit on their hands.
Sr. Colette, Abbess of the Poor Clare Monastery in Galway said “it’s God’s business what happens with the song and if it makes the charts it would be great. If it goes viral that would be great too. Our hope is that the message of the song will reach those who need a soul-lift or maybe who are just struggling to keep afloat in the ordinary everyday grind.”
When my boat, Lord, is storm tossed and sinking; when fears in my heart take control, say ‘Be not afraid’ to my spirit and Your answer will calm the soul. When I flounder around in deep waters; when the stresses of life take their toll, a sudden deep hush steals upon me. Your gentleness calms the soul.
When my life seems too full of confusion and I have lost sight of the goal, as I stumble about in the darkness may Your gentle light calm the soul. I often live life on the surface; sometimes I’m playing a role. Help me cherish my own inner beauty. May Your tender love calm the soul.
When sinfulness tugs like an anchor; when guilt has me caught in a hole, I turn to You Lord for forgiveness, and Your mercy calms the soul. When I struggle with sickness and sorrow and eagerly long to be whole, I call on Your name to bring healing and the touch of Your hand calms the soul.