Letter of Convocation
The time is upon us, therefore, in accordance with no. 171 § 1 of the Constitutions, and no. 106 § 1 of the General Statutes, I hereby
announce and convoke the 202nd General Chapter,
which will be celebrated starting Saturday, May 18, 2019, beginning at 4:30 p.m., at the Sacred Convent in Assisi, Italy. As an indication, the closing date will be Tuesday, June 18, 2019.
As you have already been informed (letter dated August 30, 2018), the Chapter will start at the Sacred Convent in Assisi and will continue (starting May 28) at the Sanctuary of Merciful Love in Collevalenza, Perugia, Italy.
Arrivals in Assisi are scheduled for noon on Saturday, May 18, and departures start June 18, 2019.
Here are some points regarding the upcoming Chapter:
1. Ordinary members at the Chapter.
A. Recalling what is set forth at no. 173 in the Constitutions of the Order:
§ 1. The capitulars for each act of the ordinary and extraordinary General Chapter are: the Minister General, former Ministers General, General Definitors, Ministers Provincial, General and Provincial Custodes, General Delegates, and Provincial Delegates according to the norms of the general Statutes. (General Statutes no. 107).
§ 2. When the Minister Provincial or General Custos is legitimately impeded the respective Vicar shall attend the Chapter and should he also be impeded a delegate should be sent by the respective Superior.
B. Moreover, as an exception for this Ordinary General Chapter only, as requested by the 2018 Extraordinary General Chapter, with the unanimous approval of the General Definitory and ratification by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (rescript dated October 25, 2018), and as an exception to the proper law of the Order, seven religious brothers (one for each of the Federations) shall participate pleno iure. They have been elected by the General Definitory on the recommendation of the Presidents of the Federations.
2. Auditors at the Chapter.
In accordance with the General Statutes, those participating as ‘auditors’ at the General Chapter are:
— the Delegate of the Minister Provincial, on the condition that the Provincial Delegation has already existed for a ten-year period and at least ten friars reside there. (General Statutes no. 10 §3);
— the Procurator General, the General Econom and the Secretaries General for Formation and Missionary Animation (General Statutes no. 120; 121; 30 §2; 66 §4).
3. Reports to be presented in the auditorium during the General Chapter.
The Chapter shall be carried out according to the instructions of the Directory for the Celebration of the General Chapter (General Statutes no. 96) and it provides that the only reports to be read in their entirety in the auditorium (General Statutes no. 117, §3) are: (a) the report of the Minister General, which shall be an expression of the Government of the Order (and therefore shall be worked on with input from the Assistants General and contributions from the Conferences and Federations); (b) the report of the Procurator of the Order; c) the report of the General Econom.
For the eight other reports called for in no. 117 § 1 of the General Statutes, as well as the ninth report on the revision of the Constitutions, summaries shall be presented which shall be followed by an opportunity to briefly discuss the contents with the individual speakers. All full reports shall be sent out in advance.
We therefore ask that all the aforementioned reports (cf. General Statutes no. 117 §1) be sent to the General Secretariat by February 11, 2019, so that the necessary translations can be made and the reports distributed before the Chapter begins. In addition, I urge the respective speakers to prepare a written summary to be presented in the Chapter, taking into account the time indications for the presentation specified by the General Secretariat.
4. Topics to be discussed in Chapter — Instrumentum Laboris.
The Instrumentum Laboris will basically consist of four parts:
A. Special motions Individual friars and Jurisdictions may send the Minister General proposals for topics to be discussed in the Chapter. These shall be sent by December 15, 2018.
B. General Statutes In order to complete the proper law of the Order (composed of the Constitutions approved by the 2018 Extraordinary General Chapter and pending formal approval by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life) the 2019 General Chapter is called upon to approve the revised General Statutes.
C. Franciscan Discipleship
D. Ratio Studiorum
We intend to send the various reports and the Instrumentum Laboris, translated into the different languages, to the Capitulars by March 16, 2019. I recommend that the Ministers Provincial and Custodes closely examine all the documents and together with their respective Definitors, reflect upon them at Provincial meetings or by similar means, so as to make meaningful contributions to the General Chapter in order to validate and plan the life of the Order.
5. The date of the election of the Minister General
The election of the Minister General is scheduled for May 25, 2019.
Dear brothers, the General Chapter is “the supreme authority for the whole Order” (Constitutions 156 § 1), it is also an occasion to validate and renew the life of our Family.
In accordance with the thinking of our father St. Francis, the friars at Chapter must first “deal with those things that pertain to God” (Earlier Rule 18, 1; FF 50). The Chapter is an intensive time of prayer and faith, in which the Order intends to put the primacy of God at the center of its existence and choices.
The Chapter, then, is a time of fraternal encounter, of exchange of experiences, of mutual enrichment. The presence of so many friars of different cultures, coming from various parts of the world, increases our sense of family and, at the same time, demonstrates how the same charism can be lived in different forms.
It is a time, again, of serious and laborious examination through which the Order questions itself on its fidelity to the charism of St. Francis and seeks to be faithful and relevant in our time and in our society.
Furthermore, the Chapter is tasked with planning the Order’s path for the next six years, choosing a new government and preparing operational guidelines, motivated by Pope Francis’ appeal to reflect on the prophetic vision of Conventual Franciscan religious life in the Church today.
In conclusion, I would like to remind you that the General Chapter is a powerful experience for every friar. I ask everyone to pray that the work of the Chapter may be carried out effectively. To this end, I would ask that they offer up their toil and daily sacrifice to the Lord for the benefit of our friars who are sick and suffering. Everyone will be able to follow the work of the Chapter on the Order’s website.
As a moment of communion in prayer and supplication to the Lord, I recommend that from February 17, 2019, until the conclusion of the General Chapter, each community add the prayers attached to this letter (or other suitable prayers prepared by the Ministers Provincial and Custodes) to the invocations of Morning Prayer and the intercessions of Evening Prayer. Moreover, during the General Chapter, every community of the Order shall celebrate the Mass of the Holy Spirit for three days.
I entrust this time of preparation, and the work of the General Chapter, to the intercession of the Immaculate Virgin, our Lady and Patroness, and our Seraphic Father St. Francis. To all of you, I wish a life lived in holiness.
Rome, Friary of the Twelve Holy Apostles, November 16, 2018