For the past three weeks I have been conducting a visitation of the Sacred Heart Province in Eastern Canada, assisted by Br. Pio Murat. Like most North American provinces, the Sacred Heart Province is receiving far fewer vocations than in the past, and as a result it has had to close some fraternities in order to reinforce fraternal life in those that remain. It was the first province in North America to enter intentionally into a project of fraternal collaboration with provinces in other parts of the world. Currently, there are six brothers from the Province of Kerala-St. Francis and four from the Province of Madagascar working in Eastern Canada.
One of the historical hallmarks of this province was its engagement in the issues regarding the poor and marginalized of society. Many of those issues have now faded, and as the number of friars has decreased and their ages increased, they can no longer be as engaged as before. Yet you can still sense that spark among the brothers; they have an interest in the what is happening in the world and in the Order beyond the borders of the province. One of the manifestations of this interest is their simple lifestyle, mindful as they are that many people even in North America struggle to make ends meet. Pio and I were also impressed by the brothers' commitment to prayer.