LETTER OF THE 7 RELIGIOUS BROTHERS

members of the Ordinary general chapter 2019

  

As rep­re­sen­ta­tives of our fri­ar broth­ers from sev­en Con­fer­ences / Fed­er­a­tions of the Order, present at the 202th Gen­er­al Chap­ter, we would like to express our grat­i­tude and appre­ci­a­tion for the desire to uphold broth­er­hood, which is foun­da­tion­al to our com­mu­ni­ty, “The Lord gave me broth­ers…” and you broth­ers gave us full active and pas­sive voice.

We are all aware of the injus­tices that have been part of our 800 years and still the lack of under­stand­ing in regard to the brother’s voca­tion in our Order. His­to­ry tells us that in most cas­es the role of a reli­gious broth­er was one of “hum­ble ser­vice”. At times very dif­fi­cult hard man­u­al work towards the ser­vice of the com­mu­ni­ty, or for a broth­er-priest. It has been the role of liv­ing an unhealthy minori­tas sup­port­ed and aid­ed by the men­tal­i­ty of fri­ars in gen­er­al, dioce­san cler­gy and laity. A dis­as­so­ci­a­tion still needs to occur, as many are too quick to cat­e­go­rize a reli­gious broth­er as some­one who is not very intel­li­gent, often une­d­u­cat­ed, inca­pable of high­er goals. With­in each of our fed­er­a­tions we have broth­ers who are quite capa­ble of doing more than just becom­ing a free labor in a habit.

The frame­work of a reli­gious broth­er is slow­ly chang­ing but also as we have heard, it is quick­ly fad­ing. We heard this in the Chap­ter Hall, the voca­tion of the broth­er­hood is dimin­ish­ing. Will we dare to repeat this awful con­fir­ma­tion in our fed­er­a­tions? Will we seek to find path­ways of pro­mot­ing and sup­port­ing our broth­ers? There are sparks of hope through each of our fed­er­a­tions where a broth­er and his tal­ents are being upheld for the good of the com­mu­ni­ty. The bias is mirac­u­lous­ly ignored in some provinces and we are being entrust­ed with roles, such as guardians, direc­tor of novices and for­ma­tion hous­es. How­ev­er, these are excep­tions, excep­tions that have upheld our broth­er­hood rather than shame­ful and inap­plic­a­ble rules that mis­un­der­stand who we are called to be as Con­ven­tu­al Fran­cis­cans.

The doc­u­ment issued by the Con­gre­ga­tion of Insti­tutes of Con­se­crat­ed Life and Asso­ci­a­tion of Apos­tolic Life of 2015, enti­tled “Iden­ti­ty and Mis­sion of a Reli­gious Broth­er in the Church” is a hope­ful doc­u­ment that can­not be dis­missed. A doc­u­ment that offers a renewed and ancient way of liv­ing out our broth­er­hood. A broth­er­hood that per­haps Saint Fran­cis and his ear­ly broth­ers lived. It seems, how­ev­er, that after four years this doc­u­ment is dead with­in out Order and is in need to be res­ur­rect­ed with deep­er reflec­tion, in order to make room for the Spir­it to guide us through its con­crete guide­lines and indi­ca­tions. In most juris­dic­tions, copies of the doc­u­ment were dis­trib­uted only to reli­gious broth­ers for read­ing, in oth­er places a sym­po­sium was orga­nized for broth­ers on this theme, as if the fri­ar priests should not be con­cerned with this top­ic. We invite you to read this doc­u­ment and to invite all of our fri­ars to read about the mis­sion of the broth­er­hood.

Our pres­ence at the Chap­ter, as well as the approved motion, giv­ing the Min­is­ter Gen­er­al the oppor­tu­ni­ty to invite rep­re­sen­ta­tives of reli­gious broth­ers to the next Gen­er­al Chap­ters, is an even greater spark of hope. We are aware, how­ev­er, that all of us need to work on the change of men­tal­i­ty, a change of heart, start­ing from our own under­stand­ing of the broth­er­hood with­in our own provinces and then look beyond provin­cial­ism to see how our broth­er­hood is being lived start­ing from the very top. From the Gen­er­al Min­is­ter to the “sim­ple” broth­er, who just smiles at a degrad­ing com­ment.

With­in all of our min­istries and par­tic­u­lar­ly in youth min­istry and voca­tion­al min­istry, we must pro­mote our way of life. The life of com­mu­ni­ty where we live our Con­ven­tu­al fra­ter­nal life, where every­one in the com­mu­ni­ty is equal, liv­ing the same rule, the same vows, hav­ing the same rights and duties in the com­mu­ni­ty, except of course those giv­en by ordi­na­tion. It is nec­es­sary to show the dig­ni­ty of the brother’s voca­tion and to adopt the same cri­te­ria in the whole Order when admit­ting can­di­dates to the for­ma­tion and only in rare and jus­ti­fied cas­es accept can­di­dates with­out sec­ondary edu­ca­tion (a high school diplo­ma).

Intel­lec­tu­al devel­op­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties giv­en to cler­ics with­in our Order should also be oppor­tu­ni­ties giv­en to broth­ers at all stages of ini­tial and ongo­ing for­ma­tion to the point that we should not be sur­prised when a reli­gious broth­er is a guardian, defin­i­tor, cat­e­chist, pro­fes­sor of the­ol­o­gy or sci­ence.

This let­ter is not meant to be an oppor­tu­ni­ty to com­plain or accuse any­one but is meant to bring about moti­va­tion to con­tin­ue to renew our­selves and our broth­er­hood, so that we do not become com­pli­ant by not tak­ing notice of the efforts still need­ed through­out the Order in this mat­ter. May this be moti­va­tion and encour­age­ment for a real reflec­tion on the above top­ic in the whole Order and on all its lev­els.

 

Your broth­ers, (in alpha­bet­i­cal order)

CHOI fr. Alexan­der (Young Seon), (Prov. COREAEFAMC)
HORVAT fr. Robert, (Prov. SLOVENIAECEF)
KOZIELSKI fr. Robert, (Prov. POLONIAE-S.MAX. KOLBEFEMO)
MARDESIC fr. Jack, (Cust. Prov. GALLIAEFIMP)
NTUMBILA fr. Joseph Bwalya, (Prov. ZAMBIAEAFCOF)
PEREIRA XAVIER fr. Rogério, (Prov. BR-S. FRANCISCIFALC)
SCHENK fr. Joseph Stu­art, (Prov. USA S. BONAVENTURAECFF)

Coll­e­valen­za, 15.06.2019