May 12, 2015

"The vocation to be 'Brothers and Minors' deeply unites you to Jesus Christ. Contemplating your Chapter, your heart fills again with joy in the Holy Spirit, praising the Father who has chosen to reveal the good news to those who are children in this world, and not the wise and powerful. Jesus, who declined to be treated according to his divine dignity, chose to take our human nature as a poor person among the poor. So he praises the Father for his vocation and the vocation of the Virgin Mary, who knew herself to be small which is why she was so very happy, because God had looked with deep love at her smallness. With that benevolent love Jesus Christ renews His choice of you. And he expects that you will continue to advance along the paths opened by Francis, so that you may renew our time."

- Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino, Bishop of Assisi
Greeting to the General Chapter

Bishop of Assisi greets Chapter delegates
Procedural Structures approved for the Chapter

DOMUS PACIS, ASSISI - Following the day of spiritual reflection on Monday, the delegates to the General Chapter 2015 began their first full day of business on Tuesday.

In the morning, the approximately 30 friars present as support staff to the Chapter took an oath to perform their duties well. Delegates also spent time in language groups discussing the rules of procedure for the Chapter, these would be discussed and voted on in the afternoon.

Friars from the English Speaking Conference serving in support capacities include: 
  • Translators: Patrick Hudson, OFM (Ireland), Richard Martignetti, OFM (ICP), Gearoid Francisco O'Connaire, OFM (Central America)
  • Periti (experts): Dominic Monti, OFM (HNP)
  • Verbalisti (Minute Taker): Caoimhin O'Laoide, OFM (Ireland)
  • Communications: Joseph Magro, OFM (Malta), Thomas Washburn, OFM (ICP), Alvin T
    e, OFM (ICP)
The highlight of the morning was a visit to the Chapter by Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino, Bishop of Assisi. Archbishop Sorrentino came to greet and welcome the friars gathered in Chapter here within his Diocese.

Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino, Bishop of Assisi, addressing the friars

In his remarks he said:

"I wish to convey the cordial greetings of the Holy Father, Pope Francis,  who shares with you not only the name but above all the charismatic spirit of your holy founder.  The Order is very dear to him. He joins us these days of the General Chapter in prayer and hope, as well as with his apostolic blessing.  I gladly accepted the invitation of the Holy Father to accompany you in these initial days of the General Chapter precisely at this assembly, which 'must be a real sign of the brotherly communion of the whole Order'  and to preside over the election of the General Minister, to whom God wants to entrust the task of being your Minister and servant for the next sexenium."

General Minister Michael A. Perry, OFM with Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino

Archbishop Sorrentino encouraged the friars to be a source of renewal for one another and for the society at large. He said:

"We turn our gaze to Jesus Christ. We are his brothers minor and friends in our time. We know that any renewal stems from a deep encounter with him. Do not forget the words of Pope Francis at the beginning of his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium: 'I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ.' There is no evangelical renewal that does not has its beginning, its journey, its breath in a personal and communal encounter with Christ. What's more, one can say that any renewal is a grateful extension of his historic action, in the places where he acts and the way he acts. Our starting point is not the shortcomings to which we must remedy, but in the action of the Spirit who builds, heals and remedies, and who calls us to collaborate with him. 
In the case of the Order, Christ knows well that given the exceptional nature of St. Francis and his charism, there will always surge tendencies that want to adapt him, or rather, force him into the customs of every era...The Lord of history has put his trust in his Franciscan brothers and all charismatic families similar to them...He wants the General Chapter to open its spirit, and be a time of grace, a fraternal and generous event, which wants to make each of you carriers that infect the Order with your convictions and with the ardor you receive from the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we implore through the intercession of St. Mary, St. Francis, St. Clare and all the saints of the Order to renew us, to enlighten our minds and grant us fraternal and missionary ardor, full of love for all of God's sons and daughters, and his entire creation."

The final act of the day was the election of Moderators for the Chapter. Elected were: Provincial Minister John Puodziunas, OFM (ABVM) - for English;  Provincial Minister Carlo Serri, OFM (Province of St. Bernardine in Abruzzo) - for Italian; and Provincial Minister Edwin Segura Alvarado, OFM (Central American Province) - for Spanish.

Provincial Minister John Puodziunas, OFM (pictured right) was elected one of three Moderators of the Chapter today.

General Chapter gets green
Planning Committee makes efforts to be more environmentally friendly

DOMUS PACIS, ASSISI - One of the side effects of a month-long gathering of 170 friars meeting for the organization of the life of the friars is the mountain of paperwork that comes along with it.

In a normal Chapter year, that paperwork begins many months in advance as reports are gen erated and mailed throughout the world to the Provincial Ministers, Custodes and Lay Brother Delegates who will serve as Capitulars, as well as to the various ex-officio members and support staff who need them for a variety of reasons.

The paperwork doesn't end once the friars gather. There are schedules, notices, updates and so on. As one can imagine, all of this equals quite a toll on the environment.

While a certain amount is inevitable, in the organization of this General Chapter 2015, every attempt was made to reduce that paper trail as much as possible.

Beginning with the pre-Chapter materials, printed documents have been at a minimum. The Communication Office of the Order, under the direction of Friar Joseph Magro, OFM, created a Reserved Section on the Order's website for Chapter participants. It was here that informative documents, pre-Chapter reports and all other materials could be found.

Those participating in the Chapter were instructed to arrive with a laptop computer or other mobile device such as a tablet so that documents during the Chapter could be accessed via the wifi internet at the Domus Pacis Conference Center making this certainly the greenest General Chapter yet.

"Magari": If only...
VIDEO: Homily of Provincial Minister Hugh McKenna, OFM

Mass today was in language groups. Today's video link is the homily given by Conference President Hugh McKenna, OFM. Hugh is also Provincial Minister of Ireland.

"It's tempting to think 'if only' about our faith. If only I could have had three years of daily contact with Jesus as the disciples did! If only he were here right now, I would be a better Catholic, friar, preacher... But that's not what Jesus said. Even though it grieved his disciples, he insisted, 'It is better for you that I go'. They couldn't imagine anything better than Jesus walking with them, teaching them, healing them, and declaring the good news of the kingdom. But Jesus knew that his departure was better than his presence. Why? Because having returned to the Father, he would send the Spirit: the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, to dwell in their hearts."

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.