May 10, 2015

"As Friars Minor we welcome with great joy the invitation of the 'Lord Pope' 
as well as his hope that the celebration of consecrated life 
will become for each one of us a renewed witness to evangelical life.

- General Minister Michael A. Perry, OFM, Letter on the Year of Consecrated Life

Benvenuti a Assisi!
Provincial Ministers arrive in Assisi from around the world

DOMUS PACIS, ASSISI - The travel plans of many of the Provincial Ministers and Custodes headed to Assisi as Capitulars for the General Chapter 2015 received an unwelcomed bump with the news on Wednesday of a devastating fire that ravaged Terminal 3 at Rome's Fiumicino airport.

The two-story blaze in the airports international terminal was the cause of many delays, bumped or rescheduled flights, but despite the travel hiccup, Sunday still managed to be the day that the 170 friars from around the globe completed their pilgrimage from their home places to the place where it all began, the home of Il Povarello to begin the month-long, once-ever-six-year gathering of the leadership of the Order. The number includes 103 Provincial Ministers and Custodes along with the General Minister and 67 other friars in support capacities.

The General Chapter will take place at the Domus Pacis Hotel and Conference Center mere steps away from the Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli (St. Mary of the Angels), the Mother Church of the Order. 

Domus Pacis Hotel and Conference Center

Inside the Chapter Hall

Br. William Short, OFM, (St. Barbara Province) is serving as General Secretary of the Chapter

Several friars of the English Speaking Conference began their journey with a stop at Convento San Francesco, a friary of the Immaculate Conception Province (USA) in Rome. Provincial Ministers Primo Piscitello (ICP), John Hardin (SB), John Puodziunas (ABVM), Jack Clark Robinson, and Jeffrey Scheeler (SJB) made the Convento their first stop. Today, they enjoyed Mass and a meal before joining with Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen (HNP), Vicar Provincial Michael Jennrich (SHP), and friars in suport roles Tom Washburn (ICP), Alvin Te (ICP), Rick Martignetti (ICP), Dominic Monti (HNP) and Brian Belanger (HNP) who is serving as the Lay Delegate of the ESC to the Chapter. Joe Rozansky (HNP) from the General Curia's JPIC Office also traveled with the group from Rome to Assisi.
Friars gathered in the chapel at Convento San Francesco in Rome for Mass

Provincial Minister Primo Piscitello (ICP) presides at Mass at Convento San Francesco in Rome before headed to Assisi for the start of the General Chapter.

Once at the Domus Pacis, the afternoon was spent renewing old acquaintances and making new ones. The day ended with a number of Masses in language groups and a dinner for those gathered.

Br. William Short, OFM (SB), General Secretary of the General Chapter, welcomes the friars, along with the General Minister Michael Perry and Francisco Javier Cardinal Errázuriz Ossa of Chile.

General Chapter Excitement
Provincial Minister Jeffrey Scheeler, OFM (SJB)
Reflection of Provincial Minister Jeffrey Scheeler, OFM (St. John the Baptist Province)

The General Chapter of the Order begins in Assisi on Sunday, May 10, and ends on Sunday, June 7. At this meeting the leadership of the Provinces and Custodies will gather to assess the current state of the Order and set a course for the next six year. 

We will vote on some proposed changes to the Constitutions and Statutes and elect a Minister General, Vicar General, and General Definitorium. 

I go with some mixed emotions; how can one not be excited to be in Assisi, to meet friars from all over the world, to participate at this level, and have an audience with Pope Francis! But it is a meeting, and a month-long one at that, with the tedious moments and schedule that any meeting brings, so I do expect some sympathy for that! 

I hope you will connect with us by means of the  daily communications sent out by the ESC. 

I promise to  pray for you in all the holy places, and trust that you will  be supporting all of the capitulars with your prayer, that  we might be open to the Spirit. 

- Jeff Scheeler, OFM

We are the Province of St. John the Baptist

Each Province was invited to create a brief video describing their Province for the Chapter. We will highlight them as we move through these weeks. Below is the video of St. John the Baptist Province, based in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The Order of Friars Minor by the Numbers
As of December 31, 2014

Total Number of Friars: 13,632 

Some details: 
  • Postulants: 689 (not included in the total); 
  • Novices: 425; 
  • Temporary Professed: 1,413 (1,067 with a clerical option, 129 with a lay option and 217 without any option); 
  • Solemnly Professed: 11,794 (priests: 9,243; permanent deacons: 59; friars with clerical option: 416; Lay Friars: 1,957); 
  • Friar Cardinals: 6; 
  • Archbishops/ Bishops 113. 
  • 287 Friars died during the year. 
The Friars are present in 120 countries, distributed as follows: 
  • Africa and Middle East: 1,161; 
  • Latin-America: 3,334; 
  • North America: 1,273; 
  • Asia-Oceania: 1,423; 
  • Western Europe: 3,999; 
  • Eastern Europe: 2,442.
The universal fraternity is structured in 103 Provinces and Autonomous Custodies; 

  • 9 Entities dependent on the Minister General; 
  • 19 Custodies dependent on Provinces; 
  • 16 Foundations; 
  • 14 Conferences of Ministers Provincial 
  • 3 Unions of Conferences (Asia/Oceania: FCAO; Latin-America: UCLAF; Europe: UFME). 

Prayer for the General Chapter
Come, Holy Spirit!

Most High and Glorious God, 
you have called us to follow the footprints 
of Your Beloved Son 
as Lesser Brothers of Your servant Francis. 

Send Your Spirit 
to enlighten our hearts 
as we enter into
the General Chapter of Pentecost 
at St Mary of the Porziuncola. 

Renew in us the joy of the Gospel, 
that we may proclaim in our time 
Your mercy and goodness towards all. 

May the Lady of the Angels,  the Virgin made Church, 
accompany us as we follow her Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, 
as we make our way to You, 
who live and rule in perfect Trinity and simple Unity, 
and are glorified, God almighty, 
forever and ever.