May 11, 2015

"We are called, indeed challenged, to seek the truth with love and compassion. 
We are challenged to examine our lives, the quality of our commitment to live in radical dependence on God 
and radical interdependence with one another 
in the fraternity of faith-filled disciples.

- General Minister Michael A. Perry, OFM, Homily, Opening Mass of General Chapter

General Chapter begins with Mass, Day of Prayer
Presentation by Capuchin General Minister

DOMUS PACIS, ASSISI - The first full day of the General Chapter 2015 began with the joyous noise of the ringing of the church bells of the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli. The friars gathered from around the world were ready to settle into the rhythm of the month-long meeting and did so by beginning with prayer.

One-by-one, and then in groups of several, the friars gradually made their way from the Domus Pacis Conference Center into the piazza of the Basilica where the first movement of prayer began the day. The 170 friars gathered before the main doors of the Church to sing, to hear about the gathering of the early friars from the writings of Thomas of Celano and at last to process into the great basilica two-by-two towards Il Poverello's own beloved chapel of the Portiuncula. 

The General Minister and Papal Delegate Cardinal Errázuriz Ossa in front of the Basilica with the friars

Friars ready to lead the procession into the Basilica

There in front of the beautiful little stone chapel surrounded by the great majestic basilica, they were greeted by General Minister Michael A. Perry, OFM, holding the Book of the Gospels. Each friar approached and venerated the holy words of Christ contained there before making their way into the Portiuncula for a brief, silent prayer.

The procession begins

"The Rule and Life of the Friars Minor is this: to follow the Holy Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ."

Following this simple and touching moment of prayer, the Opening Mass of the Chapter began. The General Minister served as presider and homilist with principal concelebrants Chilean Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa, the Papal Delegate, along with Vicar General Julio Bunader, OFM, and Secretary General Aidan McGrath, OFM. 

In his homily, the General Minister challenged the friars present. He said:

"My Brothers, during this General Chapter, we are called, indeed challenged, to seek the truth with love and compassion. We are challenged to examine our lives, the quality of our commitment to live in radical dependence on God and radical interdependence with one another in the fraternity of faith-filled disciples. We are challenged not to be satisfied with the 'status quo' in the life of the Order but, like the apostle Thomas, to probe the wounds of Christ, the wounds inflicted by a lack of trust, respect, open communication, honest dialogue, zeal, unconditional faith, economic transparency and all other wounds...But we must let go of all that is not of God, all that distracts us, all that causes fear, anger or any other feelings that keep us from allowing God to instruct and guide us during these days of Chapter. Perhaps what we need at this Chapter is a spiritual Tsunami that will enable us to arrive where the Spirit might be leading us." 

The General Minister presiding at the Opening Mass

Following the Mass, in the Chapter Hall at Domus Pacis, the General Minister officially declared the Chapter of 2015 open. The Cardinal also extended the greetings of Pope Francis as well as his own personal remarks to the Capitulars. Provincial Minister of Assisi, Fr. Claudio Durighetto also offered a greeting and welcome to the friars.

After the greetings, the day was dedicated to a spirit of reflection and prayer. The friars received some words of reflection from Fr.  Mauro Jöhri, OFM Cap., the General Minister of the Capuchin Order. In his reflection, Fr. Mauro said:

" Being a Friar Minor today means embarking on a project which, in communion with the Church, calls for a transformation of certain realities that touch the heart. We cannot simply call ourselves brothers without giving priority to fraternal life among us! I think it is equally important to affirm and commit ourselves to making our world a more fraternal world. There should be no parish, no ministry, no school, no reality entrusted to us, where we do not promote the cooperation and involvement of all. Being Friars means we must everywhere and always live in such a way that the world around us is invited to a similar fraternal style of life. This is a big task. Someone once said that there were three ideals on which the French Revolution was built. These were freedom, equality, and the one that is often forgotten brotherhood!"

The afternoon was devoted to a prayerful reading of the Word, and time for quiet prayer and reflection.

Group photo in front of the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli

Opening Mass: Homily of the General Minister
VIDEO: "Challenged to live in radical dependence on God"

Other scenes from Monday

Friars gathered at the start of Monday

Friars approaching the Book of the Gospels in front of the Portiuncula

Friar-priests gathered for the Opening Mass



Additional Coverage of the Chapter
Follow us and click below

In addition to these daily news briefings, you can also follow the action of the Chapter more up-to-date, click the links below to follow our communications on Facebook or Twitter, see the videos that we are uploading to YouTube or visit our Photo Gallery updated daily. You can also view the official General Chapter communications of the Order by visiting this link:  http://capitulumgenerale2015.ofm.org/en/

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.