Br. Giacomo Bini, speaking to the Provincial Ministers of Europe In our franciscan vocation the Lord uses the most diverse circumstances and events to call us to Himself. Our journey takes place in a particular house, in a particular Province.
But the Lord has called us for the sake of his Kingdom, not for the sake of our Province.
Thus it was for the disciples in the days after Pentecost. Thus it was for Francis when he understood the nature of his vocation, after hearing the Word of God. Thus, too, for the first friars, still few in number; their "option for the lepers" took on a universal dimension of evangelization. They would go out to all the lepers of the world, not waiting until the lepers of Assisi were attended to first, the lepers of "one's own Province." We are not called to tend our own "closed garden" first, and only then to care for what is "outside!"
A local or provincial fraternity that is weighed down with too many things to do "at home," with too many personal projects - however good in themselves - loses out on its own vocation, which is to participate in the mission of Jesus: "Receive the Holy Spirit ... go out into the whole world!"
Many of our vocations are born from missionary experiences and missionary aspirations. Today, too, many young people carry in their hearts this desire/expectation which is failing to find expression. There are many friars, too, willing to take up again the itinerant path of evangelization.
The Order has initiated international missionary projects which are dying through lack of friars. In some areas of the world, of course, for various reasons, the Order's presence is declining. But does this allow us to betray our missionary evangelization? Are not the poor, perhaps, the most generous? Can a Minister Provincial, in the name of the needs of his Province, justifiably block a missionary call? Our Rule is clear: no one can impede the work of the Spirit!
Papua New Guinea Denouncements by the Archbishop
Papua New Guinea is not having a happy time just now! The Bishops' Conference, at its meeting of April 12, agreed to support the Archbishop, Mons. Brian Barnes, ofm, whose Easter message strongly criticised corruption and misgovernment, and in particular the actions of the Prime Minister, Bill Skate. The Archbishop listed the problems torturing the nation, including: the ever-increasing poverty; the inadequate support for education - with universities threatening closure through lack of funding; the increasing crime rate; the lack of justice; the corruption among politicians. The Prime Minister asked to be allowed speak to the Conference and was admitted to the meeting. The debate between Church and Government began with the deterioration of the economic and political situation. The Parliament has been suspended since January, and it is not known when it may resume. With galloping inflation, food stuffs have increased 22% in price in the last three months.
International Commission on Contemplation: Some suggestions.
Fraternitas (cf. n. 43) reported on the first meeting of the International Commission on Contemplation, which was held in the General Curia, Rome. We have since received some suggestions:
* Try to form groups of friars in every province to be concerned about the contemplative dimension, especially to study and understand the situation. They could gather the "attitudes," the orientations in this regard in the actual lives of the friars, listening carefully to each and every friar. In this way, they could aim to establish a common viewpoint concerning the contemplative dimension. Only afterwards, and hand-in-hand with this study, this reading of the signs in the lives of the friars, can initiatives be undertaken, special times together, shared experiences, etc. These teams could have their counterparts at Conference level or in a group of provinces or in the provinces of a particular zone. These could be groups of friars who, at interprovincial level, could work together and be available to provide integrated animation at the service of provinces or conferences, in whole or in part.
* Ask the Antonianum and the other OFM Study Centers to facilitate study and reflection so that we can understand our franciscan spiritual tradition better, and the content and form of our prayer. This study could seek also to identify and develop what may be lacking in our tradition, so that our prayer today may be truly fruitful.
* Make more use of Fraternitas to exchange and circulate ideas, experiences, initiatives, regarding our priorities.
The Holy Father has appointed Mons. Romeo Tovar Astorga, OFM, Bishop of San Miguel, as Bishop of Santa Ana (El Salvador). (cf.OR.13.5.99)
* The Vicar General, Br. Stephen Ottenbreit, in the name of the Minister General, will preside at the final Mass of the XX Franciscan March. This march is an initiative of the OFM Vocation Animators of Italy. The young participants come from all the Italian provinces, to celebrate the feast of the Pardon of Assisi at the Porziuncola on August 2.
* Mons.Angelico Melotto Mazzardo, OFM, Bishop Emeritus of Solol‡ (Guatemala) died on May 11. Mons. Melotto was born in Sarego, Italy, on March 20, 1911. A missionary first in China and then in Guatemala, he was appointed Bishop of Solal‡ in 1959. He retired from this post on April 5, 1986.
* Br. Luke Modric, of the Province of the Most Holy Redeemer (Split) died in Rome on April 2. For more than fifty years he worked in the Scotist Commission, of which he was President for many years.
* Sr. Margaret Carney osf, is the new Director of the Franciscan Institute of St.Bonaventure, and Dean of the Faculty of Franciscan Studies in the University of St.Bonaventure, which is run by the Holy Name Province, USA. Sr. Margaret, who was the first American woman to be awarded a Doctorate in Theology in the Antonianum, Rome, has been a member of the Council of the International Franciscan Conference. She also collaborated in the preparation of the Rule of the Third Order Regular, approved by Pope John Paul II in 1982.
* Mons.Robert O.Gonz‡lez OFM, 48 years of age, was installed on May 8 in the Archdiocese of Puerto Rico, succeeding Cardinal Luis Aponte Martinez. Erected in August 1511 (an Archdiocese since 1960) the Diocese of Puerto Rico has two Auxiliary Bishops, and 152 parishes, with a population of more than one million Catholics (93% of the population).
* The "Omnibus" ("St.Francis of Assisi: Omnibus of Sources") has served the English-speaking franciscan family for 25 years. The new edition (1999) carries the title "Francis of Assisi: Early Documents," and will be published in three volumes. The first volume - "The Saint" - has 648 pages, and is on sale in St.Francis Bookstore, Manhattan, USA. (Orders may be made by telephone: (1.212.736.8500, ext.324). The other two volumes are still in preparation.
* The Secular Franciscan Order and the Franciscan Youth of Italy have presented an appeal to the European Parliament, with 170,000 signatures, asking that the international debt be abolished in the poorest countries of the world.
* The Studium Biblicum in Hong Kong, China, has published the first volume of their new Biblical Review, which will be published in colour every three months. It takes the place of the former review, published in black and white every two months, which first appeared in 1977. Br. Benjamin Leong writes: "With this transformation we want to bring the Word of God to every class in Chinese society for the Jubilee Year." (For information: Studium Biblicum OFM, 6 Henderson Road, Hong Kong, China. Fax: 852.2.576.9676 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
* The Franciscan Family in Chile has published a CD and a music-casette, with franciscan music sung by Chilean singers, entitled: "Let us walk with Francis to meet the new millenium."
* The Franciscan Youth of Europe will hold two meetings: one from July 27 to August 2, in Herbon, Santiago de Compostela, Spain, and from August 7 to 15, in Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic. For the meeting in Spain, contact Fernando Monteiro Alonso, S.Buenaventura 1 28005, Madrid. (Fax: 34.91.365.0860) For the second meeting (in english) contact Anezka Fiserova. (email: email@example.com)
* The Franciscan Youth in Italy (GIFRA) and the OFM Vocations Promoters are organizing a national chapter for young people, to be held in Assisi, August 26-29, as a final stage in their preparation for the Jubilee 2000. Members of GIFRA will attend, together with friends and admirers of St.Francis, all between the ages of 17 and 30.
* The Spanish-Portuguese Conference has prepared an anastatic edition of the oldest known manuscript of the "Legenda Maior" of St.Bonaventure. The manuscript, preserved in the Franciscan Library of the interprovincial house of "Cardinal Cisneros" in Madrid, includes more than 200 miniatures in colour. The oldest manuscript published until now was the one preserved in the Capuchin Historical Institute in Rome.
* The Commission for the preparation of an OFM Ratio Studiorum (Guide for Studies) met in the General Curia in Rome, March 29-31. The Commission has prepared a first arrangement of material: the aims of the Guide, the intellectual dimension of the life of the friar minor, studies in the Order.
Bolivia Evangelization and Development
The project OSCAR (which builds roads into rural areas) is celebrating 30 years of age. Created and directed by the OFM friars of the tropical zone of Bolivia, the aim of the project is to promote programmes of development for the rural people coming from the upper plateau: building roads and bridges, education (through the training of teachers, the building of schools and of houses for the teachers, the supervision of formation programmes in the countryside), health (through the formation of health supervisors in the rural communities and the use of preventive medicine), rural ecology (through information on the techniques of tropical cultivation), evangelization and the formation of local pastoral personnel. The project also offers an opportunity for voluntary work on the part of young people. At present, 90 university students and 24 aspirants for the Order work there. The volunteers have special periods for academic study. The project, co-ordinated by three friars of the Province of St.Anthony in Bolivia, seeks to help the marginal people without falling into the trap of "giving handouts."
Little Francis Love Notes by Julie Hanna. Illustrated by Sr. Chiara Amata, osc. Edition Velar and The General Secretariat of the Franciscan Missions, P.O.Box 130, Waterford, WI 53185, USA.
This book has also been published in Italian (Note d'amore del piccolo Francesco) and in Spanish (Notas de amor del Peque–o Francisco).
The value of the book should not be judged by the number of its pages. It is a life, a way of living, of seeing the world and people, both through words filled with love and poetry, and through the illustrations filled with humour and spirituality. It is recommended to the Franciscan Family as an instrument of vocations promotion..
Living with the lowest
"The experience which I am living and of which I give witness began in 1997. It is the experience of living with young drug addicts, with alcoholics, with people needing to start again in terms of social adjustment. It is the experience of "Mondo X," which Br. Eligio Gelmini had in mind in 1961 when he founded the first communities for maladjusted young people; communities of life, after the example of Jesus, who was present to his brothers, those brothers whom society regards as the last, but whom Jesus called the first. In the community one tries to save the person in his human condition, the reality within which we are called to choose salvation or damnation. There are 35 "Mondo X" communities in the world.
It is a franciscan experience, lived with the joy of sharing, of fraternity. It is a community of life, because we also welcome those who have need for some time of quiet; time to rethink in a period of confusion. We also welcome religious, priests, sisters, for this purpose. The timetable is well planned and gives order to one's life. The work includes the cleaning and arrangement of the house, but also includes other types of activity, since we are a working community. People work for up to ten hours a day, including moments of reflection. People work in groups so that there is opportunity for continuous dialogue. Dialogue is the basis of this experience, since it helps us know and accept the other as a brother placed nearby in a moment of our history, to help him change, to discover his positive attributes. It is a time to say: You can do it, don't just sit down within the inevitable difficulties. It is good to help people to know they can "do it!"
We seek to cultivate within people the need for God, talking of Jesus whom they know and understand, because he is seen and understood as liberator. In every community there are moments of prayer; we, for instance, celebrate Vespers. The friar works with them, he shares their day. There is support from the religious fraternity. I, for instance, belong to the community of Colleviti (Montecatini, Italy) and I feel supported by my friar-brothers, so that I can live the two dimensions easily, since we are called today to rediscover the faces of the lowest, to share life with them. The time has come when we can make experiences which also enrich the fraternities from which we come. The Lord calls us to this: to rediscover the itinerancy of life."
Br. Sandro Guarguaglini ofm
A Challenge for the missionaries
The Franciscan Conferences of Africa, both that of North Africa and the Middle East and that of the Sub-Sahara area, met together in St.Joseph's House, Cairo, February 2-8, 1999. After Jerusalem (1995) and Pretoria (1997) this was the third time that the nine Ministers, representing 22 African nations, met together in assembly. The Definitor General, Peter Williams, was also present. The meeting had as its principal theme the influx of the sects and the challenge they present to the ministry of the friars.
The sects are spreading rapidly in SubSahara Africa, except in those areas where islamic fundamentalism predominates. They have grown mostly as a reaction to racist colonialism and to the lack of sensitivity to local cultures on the part of most of the Christian Churches.
A second theme addressed was care of the older friars and the role they play. In Africa many of the older friars are foreign missionaries, while the younger friars, for the most part, are indigenous. Fortunately, African tradition gives much attention to care and respect for the older people, which leads the elderly to want to continue to live in the African communities.
Despite the difficult and tragic situations in many African countries, the meeting noted an increase in franciscan vocations.
The Priorities of The Order Vice-Province of St.Francis Solanus (Argentina)
The Provincial Chapter 1998 of the Vice-Province of St.Francis Solanus in Argentina studied the priorities of the Order and made the following decisions:
Each fraternity will commit itself to:
* review and revitalize the life of prayer;
* elaborate a project of fraternal life;
* review urgently and profoundly the life of minority and poverty;
* work out and put into practice a plan of ongoing formation following the Ratio Formationis (Formation Guide) of the Order.
The last two resolutions concern the Definitorium: to use its facilities and secretariates to elaborate a project of evangelization and mission, and to have in every zone of the Vice-Province a Provincial Definitor, whose responsibility it will be to animate and co-ordinate the work of the friars.
The Definitorium will also, in its ordinary meetings, take up the six priorities, one by one, giving the first morning of each meeting to prayer and fraternal sharing. Every two months, the houses of each zone will come together to dialogue about the priorities, to pray together and to share the challenges of the zone.
One small fraternity was freed from ordinary pastoral responsibilities, in order to develop a project of itinerant ministry in the poorest region of the Vice-Province, where the aboriginal peoples live.
The Minister General Visits Three Entities in Brazil
Having been met at Agudos by the Provincial Ministers, the Formators, the friars responsible for missionary evangelization and for the offices of Justice and Peace of the OFM Brazilian Conference, Br. Giacomo Bini, Minister General, and Br. Gerard Moore, Definitor General for Latin America, visited the Province of St.Francis (Rio Grande do Sul), the Vice-Province of the Seven Joys (Mato Grosso) and the Custody of the Sacred Heart (S.Paulo). Br. Giacomo visited the formation houses and some pastoral projects, and met the Definitors and friars. Referring to the structures of animation in the three entities, he underlined the essential elements of franciscan evangelization: witness, fraternity and minority. The Minister General will return to Brazil next year in the month of June.
"Divino Amore" in Rome The Work of One OFM Friar
The sanctuary of Divino Amore (divine love), on the outskirts of Rome, inaugurated by Pope John Paul II on June 20 and destined to have an important role during the Jubilee, is the work of the 74-year-old franciscan architect Br. Constantine Ruggeri, of the Province of Milan.
This Marian shrine will be the only modern church, apart from the ancient basilicas, in which it will be possible to gain the Jubilee Indulgence in Rome. The main body of the church measures 1750 square meters and is surrounded by 1200 square meters of stained-glass windows which flood the pavement with light.
Br. Constantine, who lives and works in Pavia, has planned and completed about fifteen churches in Italy and elsewhere, including the church in Kayongozi, Burundi, and that of Yamaguchi in Japan.
His works are known and appreciated for their enveloping brightness. Cardinal Hugo Poletti said: "Br. Constantine does not build with cement but with light!"
S. Maria degli Angeli (Assisi) International Franciscan Bookshop
The International Franciscan Bookshop at the Porziuncola, Assisi, will be opened on October 20. The bookshop - proposed by the Association of Franciscan Editors, encouraged by the Minister General, and made a reality by the Seraphic Province of Assisi - will occupy a privileged place in the newly refurbished areas of the Friary and Guesthouse.
Distinct from the place given to the sale of souvenirs, the bookshop will be a place of international reference for books and periodicals on the franciscan theme in every language.
A data-base will be able to give the visitor a catalogue, information about a book, or about the Editing House, or whatever information is available concerning franciscan publications.
At the inauguration the following will be present: the members of the Association of Franciscan Editors, who will hold their third international meeting. (For further information about the Association or about the Bookshop, cf.
Mons. Austen Robin Crapp New Missionary Bishop in Aitape
Mons.Austin Robin Crapp, 65 years of age, will be ordained Bishop of Aitape (Papua New Guinea) on July 11. Mons.Crapp, born in Sydney (Australia), entered the Order in 1953 (Province of the Holy Spirit), and was ordained to the priesthood in 1959. In 1962 he went to PNG as a pastor, and was subsequently Provincial of the Vice-Province of St.Francis of Assisi. In 1993 he was appointed Vicar General of the diocese, under Bishop Brian Barnes, now Archbishop of Port Moresby, the country's capital. The diocese of Aitape covers 18.200 square kilometers, and has a population of about 83,000, of whom 57,000 (68.7%) are Catholic. 23 priests, 26 brothers and 47 religious sisters work in 19 parishes there. The Chuch is very involved in education and health. The diocese suffered severely from the tidal wave of July 1998, in which more than 3000 people lost their lives.
Br. Anton Bruck, (S. Bernardino - Austria) for the Province of St.Mary, Hungary.
Br. Carlos Lafuente, (St.Francis Solanus, Peru) for the Province of the 12 Apostles, Peru.
Br. Norbert Plogmann, (Holy Cross, Germany) for the Vice-Province of Christ the King, Switzerland
Br. Luis Blanco Arias, (Betica - Spain) for the Interprovincial House of Cisneros, Madrid
Br. Peter Schorr, (Definitor General) Assistant Visitator for the House of the Province of St.Anthony, Brazil, in Germany.
Br. SŽrgio Gšrgen, (St.Francis, Brazil) for the Vice-Province of the Holy Name, Brazil.
Br. Joaqu’n Rafaele Colomer, of the Vice-Province of St.Francis Solanus, Argentina, Visitator General for the Province of the Most Holy Trinity (Chile), has been appointed Delegate General to study the integration of the Custody of St.Joseph (Copiap—) with the Province of the Most Holy Trinity, in accord with the wishes of the friars of the Custody, who are of Belgian origin.
Province of the Assumption BVM (USA) Br. Thomas Luczak
Province of Trento (Italy) Br. Saverio Biasi (re-elected)
Province of the Imm. Conc. BVM (Poland) Br. Romuald Kosla
Province of St.Mary of the Angels (Poland) Br. Marek Wach
Province of St.Francis, Assisi Br. Massimo Reschiglian
Custody of St.Michael Archangel (Ukraine) Br. Herkulan Malczuk
Province of St.Joseph (Canada) Br. Pierre Brunette
Montreal Biblical Site on the Internet
Br. Guylain Prince, of the Province of St.Joseph, Canada, is the redactional secretary for the site www.interbible.org which the Biblical Center of Montreal has created, in collaboration with the Catholic Bible Society (SOCABI), the Catholic Association for Bible Studies in Canada (ACEBAC), and the Expo-Bible Society of Quebec inc. (SEBQ).
The four centers have benefitted from the support of COGECO, a well-known Canadian telecommunications company, which has taken care of the technical aspects of the project. The site will make available the contributions of many researchers and biblical scholars working in the French language.
It carries the following sections: "A fountain of living water" (essential themes), "Discovering the biblical world" (culture, history, and archeology), "Celebrating the Word" (commentary on the Sunday Gospel Readings) and "Scripture" (a commentary on the text of the four Gospels).