It is 130 years since the Basilica of St. Anthony of Padua on the Esquiline and the Pontifical University, Antonianum were established. Also known as the basilica of St. Anthony at the Lateran because of its location close to the Lateran Basilica, the church was consecrated on December 4th, 1887 by the then Vicar of Rome, Cardinal Lucido Maria Parocchi. The anniversary of the consecration of the church and the founding of the university was recently marked with the celebration of Mass by the auxiliary bishop for Rome city centre, Gianrico Ruzza, with the rector of the basilica, Alfredo Silvestri and the vice-rector of the Pontifical Athenaeum, Agustín Hernández, concelebrating. The Rector of the Antonianum, Sr. Mary Melone, was also in attendance.
The church was built between 1884 and 1887 by the architect Luca Carimini. The Friars Minor had been forced to leave the historic seat of Santa Maria in Aracoeli at the Campidoglio, where they had been for 635 years (since 1250) in order to make way for the building of the national monument to Victor Emanuel II, better known in Italy as the Altare della Patria. A site close to the Lateran was chosen because of its connection to Pope Innocent III who gave verbal approval to the Rule of the Friars Minor. Innocent had had a dream in which Francis of Assisi supported the collapsing basilica of St. John Lateran, the mother of all churches.
On August 21st, 1931 Pius XI raised the church to the dignity of a Minor Basilica on the occasion of the seventh centenary of the death of St. Anthony. In the buildings attached to the basilica, apart from the Pontifical University, Antonianum, are the Gabriele Allegra fraternity and the Pontifical “Academia Mariana Internationalis”. The entire community of St. Anthony at the Lateran is made up of 160 Religious and students who come from all over the world. Bishop Ruzza dwelt on this in his homily when he spoke of “the wealth of diverse cultures” and spoke about being “struck by the sight of so many confreres from so many different countries, all united in harmony in the name of Francis of Assisi. This is so moving. Once more, Franciscanism is a powerful seed of renewal.”
Bishop Ruzza reflected on the reading of the day from the Gospel of Mark, in which the healing of the centurion’s servant, and the centurion’s total faith in the words and the authority of Christ is described. He asked himself whether the Word of God still “flows in the hearts of those who participate in the life of the community”, and whether people understand that daily life must start from and be based on the Gospel which can bring “enthusiasm and vitality”. In the light of this, he prayed that the community of St. Anthony at the Lateran might be a Church ready and able to go out and evangelise, with the Gospel in hand and heart.
“Be a Church ready to go out among the people, not being afraid to encounter different cultures”, said Bishop Ruzza. “A Church unafraid of finding itself in a multi-ethnic situation where most people are Chinese, Bengali, or African — recognising their cultural richness, and inviting them to journey together. Let the great cultural richness that you enjoy become fruitful, so that this centre may be at the service of the community which should benefit from the unity found among you.” The OFM Minister General, Br. Michael Perry, presented a commemorative parchment of blessing to Br. Alfredo Silvestri and to Sr. Mary Melone.
by Roberta Pumpo, published by romasette.it on December 4 2017
The November 2017 Tempo Forte was held from the 6th to 17th of the month. Br. Nicodème Kibuzehose could not be present because he was in Congo-Brazzaville assisting the Visitator General for the Foundation of Our Lady of Africa, Br. Roger MARCHAL.
On Thursday of the first week, November 9th, sessions were suspended so the Minister General and some Definitors could attend the study day commemorating Blessed John Duns Scotus, as well as the feast day of the friars of the Penitentiary at the Basilica of St. John Lateran. The Minister General also took part in the concluding session of the St. Bonaventure Conference at the Pontifical University, Antonianum, on the afternoon of Friday 17th.
In addition, during the second week, the Minister General and Definitory met with the Visitators General from Tuesday 13th to Thursday 16th — in the coming months, these Visitators will undertake the service that has been entrusted to them.
On the first day of Tempo Forte, each of the friars of the Definitory spoke about the activities and experiences in which they had been involved during the previous 2 months since the September Tempo Forte.
Over the succeeding days, attention was given to the following: the personnel situation in houses dependent on the Minister General was discussed several times; a document outlining the guidelines and planning of the life and mission of the Order for the biennium 2018/2019 was approved (this will be published in due course on the Order’s website); the acts of elections which took place at Provincial Chapters were ratified — the Provinces concerned were:
Holy Faith, Colombia;
Our Lady of Guadalupe, Central America and Panama;
Most Holy Trinity, Chile;
and the newly erected Province (formerly a Custody) of St. Francis, Herald of Peace, West Papua and Indonesia.
Numerous acts of elections that took place during Capitular Congresses, and those that took place outside Chapter, were ratified, and the suppression of some houses in different entities were approved.
Changes to Particular Statutes were also approved:
from the Province of St. Francis Solanus, Peru;
from the Foundations in Myanmar and Thailand, which at the moment are dependent on the Minister General, in view of their being entrusted to the Province of the Holy Martyrs, Korea.
from the Sannito-Irpina Province of St. Mary of Graces, Italy
from the Province of Ireland.
The Final Reports of the Canonical Visitation of the following Provinces were studied:
Francis and James (Zapopan), Mexico
Peter and Paul (Michoacán), Mexico
Sacred Heart of Jesus (St. Louis), U.S.A.
Leopold, Austria and Northern Italy
In addition, the following requests were examined:
dispensation from the obligations of the clerical state (2);
secularisation pure et simpliciter (1);
dismissal from the Order (3);
dispensation from Solemn Vows (5);
transfer to the Order from other Institutes (2);
dispensation (2) and sanatio (1) for Novitiates with fewer than three novices.
Six friars volunteered to be part of the Missionary Projects of the Order and were accepted, and new members of various Committees attached to the Secretariats and Offices of the General Curia were nominated.
The General Definitory also held listening, dialogue, and sharing sessions with the following:
Cesare VAIANI and Br. Siniša BALAJIC, from the General Secretariat for Formation and Studies,
Luis GALLARDO, of the General Secretariat for Missions and Evangelization,
Jaime CAMPOS and Br. Rufino LIM, from the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Office,
John PUODZIUNAS and Br. Silvio R. DE LA FUENTE, from the General Bursar’s Office, together with Br. Antonio RICCIO, Legal Representative of FOA (Fondazione Opere Antoniane),
Franco MIRRI, from the Development and Fundraising Office.
The next Tempo Forte takes place at the General Curia from December 18th to 22nd, 2017.
The Commission for Prayer and Devotion, made up of Fr. Gerardo Evans, Fr. Emilio Rocha Grande, Fr. Diego Dalla Gassa, and Fr. Julio César Bunader (Vicar General), met from 25th to 30th November 2017, at the Gethsemane Hermitage, Jerusalem, with the aim of evaluating the reception of the aid “Listen and you will live: Guidelines for establishing a hermitage fraternity or house of prayer” (March 2017) and in order to share the replies received from the Order’s various entities in respect of the existence of a fraternity where prayer is the priority, in line with the guidelines.
The members of the Commission will continue to serve, by way a new enquiry into the Entities of our Order, widening the aid’s horizons, with the aim of deepening its knowledge as regards other realities, for example: experiences which take their inspiration from the Hermitage Rule or projects tied up with the life of prayer and devotion of a Provincial nature which are already developing.
The meeting was blessed through fraternal sharing and prayer with the Gethsemane fraternity. Other meaningful events included: the visit to the Bethlehem fraternity, the Mass at the Grotto of the Nativity, and the participation at the solemn profession of 3 new friars in the church of St. Saviour in Jerusalem.
Each year, on 1 December 2017, public health officials, medical doctors and nurses, scientists, social workers, activists, and many others in the global human family, but most especially those women, men, and children living with or affected by HIV and AIDS, pauses, even for a few moments, to reflect on the experience of this pandemic disease that has taken the lives of countless millions of persons since it was first noticed in 1980 and to renew their hope that one day we will have an effective preventive vaccine or a cure for those already infected.
On this World AIDS Day 2017, we can share the “good news” of much progress made in providing life-saving medicines to treat this disease to many millions of people who otherwise would not be alive today. Take, for example, the situation in South Africa, where, for many years, our Friars have been providing medical, social, emotional, and pastoral care to people living with HIV in Boksburg (Johannesburg). In the year 2000, the public health experts reported scientific evidence that treatment with combination treatment with at least three types of anti-retroviral medications prolonged the lives of people living with AIDS and offered them a significant improvement in their quality of life, only 90 South Africans had access to such treatment. On this World AIDS Day, there are more than 6 million such persons being treated in South Africa and, throughout the world, international agencies, governments, private industry, and churches and other faith-based organizations are collaborating to provide affordable and accessible treatment to almost 21 million people living with this disease. This achievement has avoided the tragic consequences of AIDS and prevented new HIV infections among millions of people.
You may be asking yourselves why we continue to observe World AIDS Day if there is only good news to report. The reality is, however, that our journey is far from completed. Some 20 million people living with HIV, including 1.8 million children, still lack access to treatment. During this year, new infections in Eastern Europe and Central Asia increased by 60% and AIDS-related deaths increased by 27%. But perhaps of greatest concern is that people living with HIV still report frequent experiences of discrimination and stigmatization, by health care professionals and even from members of their families and local communities, including our Catholic and Christian communities of faith.
This last fact should cause each of us Friars to question our own reactions toward those living with or affected by HIV. Do we embrace them wholeheartedly and without fear or prejudice? Or do we avoid them, blame them for contracting the virus, gossip about them, and set limits on the compassion that we offer to these our brothers and sisters? Such thoughts make me recall the life-changing experience of our Holy Founder, Francis, who, we are told by Thomas of Celano in his First Life of Saint Francis, harbored a profound fear of lepers. It was only by the grace of God that he was led to embrace and kiss the wounds of lepers and later to live among them caring for their physical, spiritual, and social needs. Even as he washed and bandaged their wounds, he experienced the power of their love for him, their care, which led to a healing and conversion in his life. “It is in giving that we receive!”
Leprosy is not the same as HIV infection, but the marginalization experienced by both groups of affected people is similarly hurtful and contrary to their God-given human dignity. Thomas of Celano tells us that, through his profound experiences of interaction with lepers, with those perceived by others as the “poorest of the poor”, Francis “… therefore resolved in his heart never in the future to refuse any one, if at all possible, who asked for the love of God. This he most diligently did and carried out, until he sacrificed himself entirely and in every way; and thus he became first a practicer before he became a teacher of the evangelical counsel: To him who asks of thee, he said, give; and from him who would borrow of thee, do not turn away.”
My dear Brothers, let us follow in the footsteps of Christ and St. Francis as we observe with pray and with loving acts this World AIDS Day.
Rome, December 1, 2017
Br. Michael A. Perry, OFM Minister General and Servant
Today marks an historic moment in the life of our Orders and that of the whole Franciscan movement. In some ways, it could be said that a kind of “miracle” has happened — a miracle that I personally hope will continue to be experienced in our mutual relationships, and in our witness of communion and solidarity to a world that is in need of signs that generate new strength and new hope.
Franciscan Friars in Chapter was first conceived as a project that was limited to the Friars of Umbria. They were invited to embark on a three-year process of reflection on the central features of the identity and mission of the charism we have in common. Then the Ministers General and their Definitories called for this initiative to be extended and shared with all the friars in our respective Orders. Two anniversaries, the Eighth Centenary of the Pardon of Assisi, and the Fifth Centenary of the publication of Ite Vos, presented concrete opportunities for the friars to study and analyze the reasons behind the original division of the Order (a division that in my opinion was the result of a failure of love and mercy, and which led to a definitive canonical separation) — and to seek a path of mutual forgiveness and reconciliation.
This important process has also provided us with resources to help us come up with initiatives that can promote a deeper communion between us. This move to greater communion is expressed in our plans for 2018, including: the union of our Franciscan centers for higher education in a new Franciscan University in Rome; the creation of an Inter-Obediential fraternity in Emmaus; other initiatives aimed at the establishment of Inter-Obediential fraternities in different parts of the Franciscan world. We also continue to discuss the possible establishment of Inter-Obediential programs for Initial Formation.
The symbolic gesture of Pope Francis, Successor of St Peter, in which he confirmed our Rule of Life and challenged us to “walk together and grow in your common vocation and mission” (Pope Francis, at the Tomb of St. Francis, Assisi, October 4th, 2013), certainly inspires us to seek deeper communion and to break down the dividing wall that separates us from each other (see Eph 3: 13-14). In this way, we will be able to respond to Pope Francis’ invitation to “remain united”.
We read in the Mirror of Perfection, 124, quoted by Pope Francis in his homily on October 4th, 2013, in Assisi:
I ask you, therefore, Lord Jesus Christ,
Father of mercies,
not to consider our ingratitude.
Be mindful of Your most abundant piety
which You have shown to [this city],
that it always be an abode
for those who truly acknowledge You,
and glorify Your name,
blessed and most glorious forever and ever. Amen.”
My brothers, we have embarked on a journey of faith, full of promises, challenges and abundant blessings. We cannot predict what changes the future might place before us as we seek communion and travel together on the road to the Kingdom of God. However, it is up to us to choose to be comitted to working together, encouraging each other, rediscovering and embracing the essential features of the radical gospel way of life we have in common.
As our dear and well-remembered Minister General Giacomo Bini once said, “as a prerequisite for ‘looking ahead’, we must help each other to ‘look upwards’” (Giacomo Bini, Un’esistenza unificata e pacificata in Dio, 2011, p.33). Thus, all travelling together on this road as pilgrims and strangers, one day we will discover that we have come to a point of spiritual communion that will allow us to celebrate the General Chapter that failed to happen 500 years ago.
My dear brothers, do not be afraid! The Lord Jesus goes ahead of us and invites us not only to make friends and be in communion with Him, but also to live in friendship and communion with all the friars of our respective Orders, with all of humanity, and with the entire world.
Br. Michael A. Perry, OFM
Parish of St. Gregory VII, Rome, 23rd November 2017