27 November 2014



Can you say "Yum"?

Besides a nod to Thanksgiving Day for the Americans in the Curia, we also celebrated the birthday of Luis Eduardo Rubiano and the feast day of Massimo Rosina. But wait! There's more. We also anticipated by one day the celebration of Jaime Rey's feast day, I should be able to walk again by Saturday.

24 November 2014

General Curia named "House of Life"

In a ceremony conducted on Sunday, November 23, the Capuchin generalate was awarded the distinction of being a "House of Life" for its role in saving thousands of Jews from deportation to concentration camps during World War II. The plaque that was unveiled during the ceremony recalled the deeds of Father Marie Benoit, a French Capuchin who risked his life to save the Jews in Marseilles. When his activities there were discovered by the Gestapo, he was assigned to teach in the International College in Rome, where he intensified his activities.

Br. Mauro and Ms. Silvia Constantini unveiling the plaque
The honor was bestowed by the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, which is named for a Swedish diplomat who worked to save the Jews in Hungary during the same period. Ms. Silvia Constantini and Mr. Jesus Colina, both vice presidents of the Foundation were on hand for the ceremony. About a dozen associates of the Foundation, including other members of the Righteous among the Nations, also participated.

While several other sites in Rome and Italy will receive this recognition, the Capuchin generalate was the first to be identified for recognition. Unfortunately, the ceremony had to be postponed, first because of the renovations that were underway at the generalate and then due to scheduling conflicts.

The website of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation has an explanation of the Houses of Life initiative and a page about the choice of the Capuchin generalate. A fair summary of Br. Marie Benoit's efforts can be found here on their site. I can also recommend the recently-published book, Père Marie-Benoît and Jewish Rescue: How a French Priest Together with Jewish Friends Saved Thousands during the Holocaust, by Susan Zuccotti. The book is generally well-researched, except when it deals with the attitudes of Marie Benoit's superiors and of the Holy See toward his work, where it veers into generalizations that are usually unsupported and sometimes contradicted by the

14 November 2014

Chapters in New Jersey and Australia

Congratulations to Nick Mormando and Gary Devery, who were both recently re-elected as provincial ministers of the New Jersey and Australian Provinces, respectively. The chapter of the New Jersey Province took place on 27-31 October 2014, and that of the Australian Province took place on 4-7 November 2014.

New council of the Province of Australia
These two provinces have a lot in common. For instance, both were founded by Italian friars and they are similar in size. Currently, however, they are in quite different situations. The Province of Australia (or the Assumption Province) has gone through an extended period of pastoral planning and restructuring. Every aspect of the life and ministry of the brothers was reviewed to see if it responded to present needs and the cultural climate of today’s Australia. As a result of the planning process, brothers from India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Poland were invited to collaborate with the Australian brothers, both to strengthen fraternal life in the province and to better portray the international character of the Order. The formation process was revamped, and several brothers were prepared for formation work. The promotion of vocations was given a greater priority. New ministries were accepted and existing ministries were expanded in order to give greater emphasis to work with the poor and with youth.

While it is too early to tell whether these measures will translate into more vocations, some benefits are already evident. After some initial bumps, the experience of International fraternal collaboration has proven beneficial not only for the Australian Province, but for the friars from the sending provinces, as well. The sense of identity among the brothers has increased, along with their visibility in the Australian church and society. There is a palpable sense of a common vision and mission in the province, which bodes well for its future.

Brothers of the New Jersey Province line up for a photo
In contrast, the Province of New Jersey (also known as the Stigmata Province) is at the beginning of the process of developing a new pastoral plan. Changing needs and demographics have led it question whether its structures are adequately responding to the times. At its recently-concluded chapter, therefore, the province decided to embark on a pastoral planning process to see what changes can and should be made. Actually, the first steps were taken a little over a year ago when four brothers from the Province of Andhra Pradesh-Orissa in India came to collaborate with the Province of New Jersey. These brothers provide the New Jersey Province with some needed flexibility during the planning process. More than that, however, they reflect the true international character of the Capuchin Order, which is becoming increasingly relevant in the multicultural societies of the NAPCC.

Fall foliage at St. Lawrence Friary, Beacon, NY