May 20, 2015

"We are among the wounds of Jesus...And here is Jesus hidden in these boys and girls, in these children, in these people. 
On the altar we adore the Flesh of Jesus; in the people we find the wounds of Jesus. Jesus hidden in the Eucharist and Jesus hidden in these wounds. They need to be heard!
The wounds should be heard by all those who call themselves Christian."

- Pope Francis
On his visit to the Instituto Serafico, October 4, 2013

Voting for General Minister
Results of the SECOND Straw Ballot

Although there were no surprises in the Second Straw Ballot today, the Papal Delegate Cardinal Err?zuriz Ossa, has asked us not to publish the results publicly, citing the solemn moment of election that we are entering into. 


The canonical election of the General Minister will take place tomorrow morning (Thursday).



Experience of the poor among the poor
Visit to the Instituto Serafico in Assisi

ASSISI - The activity of the Chapter began in a very different way today as delegates left from the Domus Pacis conference center and instead went out into the city of Assisi to have an experience of being one of the poor among the poor in imitation and memory of the encounter of St. Francis with the leper.

The friars went out in different groups divided by language to a variety of places that work with the poor of Assisi and the region in different ways. Those in the English-language group traveled to the Instituto Serafico located near the parking lot just below the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi.

These experiences were organized for the friars by Vice Secretary of the Chapter Sergiusz Baldyga, OFM.

The other groups had similar experiences at a project that cares for women in challenging situations called Madonnina; and at a homeless shelter called Casa Papa Francesco.

Friars being welcomed at the Instituto Serafico by Sr. Crocifissa, Mother Superior of the community of religious sisters who minister there.

The Instituto was founded on the Feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis (September 17) in 1871 by St. Ludovico of Casoria (canonized recently in November 2014 by Pope Francis) and is a residential center for infirm and disabled young people. When Pope Francis visited Assisi in October of 2013, his first stop was at the Instituto.

Today, the Instituto offers services to approximately 150 young people. Of them, about 70 are residents of the Instituto and the remainder come to the facility to receive services but live elsewhere in the region.

Francesca Di Maolo, President of the Instituto, explained their work to the friars, "We help the young people to experience a full life here, even with their limitations. We are, of course, in service to those who come to us, but as is often the case, we receive so much more than we give. Here at the Instituto Serafico, we try to offer a vision of what true life is about: friendship, love, and care. I can say that c aring for and those who are here has been the greatest experience of my life."

Speaking of the Holy Father's 2013 visit, Ms. Di Maolo explained that Pope Francis first took the time to embrace every one of the 107 people who were gathered before going to his place to speak to the group. "This was extraordinary," she said. "Because many of our young people  don't like to be touched, some of them are blind, but every last one embraced the Pope as if he were their father, and when the Pope went to each one it was as though he recognized them as his child."

Pope Francis greeting on of the young people at the Instituto during his October 2013 visit there. (photo courtesy of the Instituto website

The friars were given a thorough tour of the facility by Sr. Crocifissa, who is the Mother Superior of the community of four religious sisters who minister there.

Following their visit, the friars returned to the Domus Pacis and in the afternoon session were given an explanation of proposed changes to the General Constitutions and Statutes of the Order by General Secretary of the Order Aidan McGrath, OFM (Ireland). This session was essentially informational and these proposals will be discussed in greater detail in the weeks ahead before decisions are taken in their regard. 

The changes involve the structure of Conferences, the length of term of office for Provincial Minister, the return of retired Bishops to a Province, the organization of the Secretariat for Formation and Studies, entities dependent upon the General Minister, and the number of General Definitors, 

General Minister Michael A. Perry, OFM (SH) comforting one of the young people at the Instituto today with Provincial Minister Jack Clark Robinson, OFM (OLG)

First first visited the Adoration Chapel at the Instituto before their visit

"Go, Francis, and repair my house..."
Reflection of Provincial Minister Marc LeGoanvec, OFM (SJ)

Provincial Minister Marc LeGoanvec, OFM
From the first week of the General Chapter of the Order of Friars Minor, held here in Assisi, brother Massimo Tedoldi, General Secretary for Missions and Evangelization, presented at the meeting a brief summary of the state of missionary evangelization in our community. He first announced three items of good news. The first is that the joy of the gospel, perfect joy, is alive and well in our Order: many brothers live in the world closer to people and their concerns and are happy to share their love of God with those who want to hear the Good News. The second good news: the awareness increasingly thorough the Order that evangelization is the rationale of our brotherhood. And finally, the last good news is the development of a renewed evangelization in new forms of life and mission, in which the brothers try to find the "original spirit" of St. Francis the first Brothers.

Three items of good news, but three challenges presented to us by the brother Massimo. We know that the crucified Christ of San Damiano addressed St. Francis, saying, "Go, Francis, and repair my house..." This is linked indissolubly to the personal vocational call made by Christ to Francis (he call him by his name) and the mission entrusted to him at the same time (Go ...). 

Vocation and mission are inseparable, and that is the challenge for our Order to form us from the beginning of our journey to this understanding of our Franciscan life. The second challenge is the need for us to open ourselves to the world today, to live in the margins so often described by Pope Francis. We withdraw into ourselves, we find a comfortable life too often, we close ourselves to the world's cries that betray our charism, and the vocation and the mission that God has entrusted to us. The final challenge, according to brother Massimo, would be to renew our missionary policy in trying to reconcile the internal needs of our communities and sending brothers in mission ad gentes(in other countries), to harmonize the missionary initiatives of Provinces with international projects of the Order, and finally to dare to offer new answers to the world's calls while taking care of our traditional missionary presence.

At each of the identified challenges, brother Massimo added a few proposals along the lines of deepening what is already undertaken, that we really let the Friars Minor's contemplative mission, taught from our entry into the Order be the movement that leads us to meet the world. He also proposed that we move to an evangelical conversion of our structures for the renewed missionary spirit that germinates in us. It requires that we work to develop a dialogue and a greater communion between us both in terms of our missionary presence in the formation of brothers and in our economic realities. The table was set for a good reflection!

Saint Vincent of Siena
VIDEO: Provincial Minister Jack Clark Robinson, OFM (OLG)

Vespers in the Basilica
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament before the Portiuncula

Wednesday's activities came to a close with a beautiful celebration of Vespers with Eucharistic Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli in front of the chapel of the Portiuncula. Provincial Minister Paul Smith, OFM (Holy Spirit, Australia) was the presider for our service. A prayerful end to a beautiful day. Enjoy the photos below.

Provincial Minister Paul Smith, OFM (Holy Spirit, Australia) presiding

Friar Brian Belanger, OFM (HNP), lay brother delegate of the ESC, reading