24 November 2017

500 Years After


When Pope Francis visited Assisi a few years ago, he challenged the various branches of the Franciscan Order to work together more closely. On November 23, 2017, about 400 Franciscans Friars — Friars Minor, Conventuals, Capuchins, TORs and Atonements — were granted an audience with Pope Francis in order to inform him of the progress that has been made in this regard, and to express their commitment to continue working together.

Together we have responded to that challenge in several ways. The three branches of the First Order (OFMs, Conventuals, and Capuchins) have worked together to plan a celebration of the 8th centenary of the Pardon of Assisi and a commemoration of the 5th centenary of the Papal Bull "Ite Vos" that cemented the division between the Conventuals and Observants. Earlier this year, a Capitolo generalissimo* was held in Assisi with participants from the three branches of the First Order plus representatives of various other Franciscan congregations. The chapter was held exactly 500 years after the Capitolo generalissimo that Pope Leo X called in order to heal the divisions among various Franciscan groups, but that never took place.

In addition to these celebrations, the three branches of the First Order have begun to collaborate in some very practical areas. The course for missionaries offered in Brussels each year is a joint effort of the three branches of the First Order. They also run an institute for higher studies in Lusaka, Zambia. Efforts are currently underway to combine the Antonianum, Seraphicum and Franciscan Institute of Spirituality in Rome into a single Franciscan University. The first steps have also been taken to establish fraternities with members from each branch of the First Order.

I have spoken to my OFM and Conventual counterparts, and we agree that much more collaboration could be done in North America. All of us, for instance, struggle to provide adequate preparation for those destined to work in the area of formation. Setting up a common course for formation personnel seems to make sense. There are also vast areas of the United States and Canada that have almost no Franciscan presence. Forming an inter-obediential fraternity in these areas could benefit both the local church and our Order.

Brothers, let us begin.

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* It is difficult to translate Capitolo generalissimo into English. One might write: "Extra-general chapter", in the sense that while a general chapter (as opposed to a provincial chapter) is for the whole Order, an extra-general chapter is for all the Orders. 

23 November 2017

Franciscan Friars Walking Together

The Holy Father Pope Francis gave a wonderful talk to the 400 Franciscan friars present at a private audience this morning. A link to the text is provided here:
Minority as a place of encounter

19 November 2017

Solanus Casey beatification - 2

In a show of faith and the effectiveness of a listening ear, over 60 thousand people braved the rain and cold to attend the beatification of Solanus Casey at Detroit's Ford Field on Saturday, November 18, 2017. Among the faithful in attendance were nearly 350 Capuchin friars from many parts of the world. It was a joyous occasion for everyone.

18 November 2017

Solanus Casey beatification - 1

Capuchins from all parts of North America are gathering in Detroit this weekend for the November 18 beatification of Br. Solanus Casey, the first North American Capuchin to become a Blessed, and only the second American-born male to reach this honor. Many of those present in the city came together on Friday evening for Evening Prayer and appetizers in one of Detroit's Capuchin Soup Kitchens this evening, and then were transported to the other Capuchin Soup Kitchen for dinner. The joyous occasion of Solanus' beatification was made even more joyous by the presence of so many Capuchins.

Speaking to the assembled friars during Vespers, the General Minister, Br. Mauro Jöhri, spoke of how Venerable Solanus Casey modeled the Capuchin charism for us. While he never traveled to a distant land, he embodied the missionary spirit by welcoming and accepting everyone who came to him, in the same way that Jesus welcomed all the sick, the suffering and even sinners. Although this is the first beatification of an American Capuchin, Mauro reminded us, it should not be the last. The path to holiness taken by Solanus is open to all of us, and now that sixty years have passed since the death of Solanus, it is time for others to follow his lead. Even if we have done nothing up until now, let us begin again, brothers!

11 November 2017

Chapter of the Province of Australia

New Provincial Council (l to r): Thomas McFadden, Lam Vu, Gerard O'Dempsey, provincial minister, Julian Messina, provincial vicar, and Michael O'Dwyer
Please include in your prayers the newly-elected provincial council of the Province of Australia. It is always a joy to spend quality time with my brothers throughout the world, and this week was certainly no exception. As this was likely the last chapter at which I will preside, however, the week was bittersweet for me. I will miss these opportunities in the future.

20 October 2017

Chapter of the Stigmata Province

Meet the new provincial minister and council of the Province of the Sacred Stigmata of Saint Francis (aka the New Jersey Province). The provincial minister is Br. Remo DiSalvatore (center), the provincial vicar is Br. Robert Williams (second from the right), the second councilor is Br. Francisco Arrendondo (far right), the third councilor is Br. Ronald Giannone (far left) and the fourth councilor is Br. Robert Perez (second from the left).

Congratulations and godspeed. 

01 October 2017

At the Service of the Church as Capuchins

About half of our Capuchin bishops attended the gathering held for them in Assisi on September 13-15. We are extremely proud of these men - dedicated both to serving the Church and to preserving their Capuchin spirit.

24 July 2017

Profession of temporary vows

One downside of being on the general council is that I cannot attend most of the celebrations in my province. An advantage, however, is that I can attend the celebrations of other provinces. This evening, I had the privilege of attending the profession of temporary vows by Br. Sunil D'Costa in Toronto. His vows were accepted by Br. Mauro Jöhri, who is visiting the Province of Central Canada at the moment.
Best wishes and prayers, Br. Sunil!