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

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