Today’s Mass was presided over by the new Assistant General for the Federatio Europae Mediae et Orientalis (FEMO) Friar Tomáš LESŇÁK.
Friar Jude WINKLER drew his homily from the Second Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians, regarding our being new creatures in the Risen Christ. Thus the Chapter has tried to give a new interpretation to the journey of our confreres. However, the indications the Capitulars have written will remain lifeless on the page if they are not lived in faith, if the friars do not open up to the strength of the Holy Spirit.
Friar Ryszard WRÓBEL, the Delegate General for Communications, presented the latest developments in the Order’s statistics. Data concerning 2014 was made available to the Capitulars, so they could make a comparison with our current situation. There has been a decrease in the number of confreres, but we still number around 4000 friars. He then presented some instructions concerning the website of the Order; how to find news and documents that may be of interest to the confreres. In particular, there is now data showing the composition of the Federations and Jurisdictions.
The Custos of the Sacred Convent in Assisi, Friar Mauro GAMBETTI, addressed the Capitulars and gave them a general picture of what our Seraphic Father St. Francis represents today. The world and the Church expect the evangelical values that our founder lived to be proclaimed, particularly in the way that Pope Francis has been proclaiming them. The General Custody of Assisi has sixty four friars, fifty-three of whom live in the Sacred Convent. Only twenty two of them are from Italy. The Custody is always in need of help and so in future, the Jurisdictions are asked to send more confreres. Finally the Custos gave each of the Capitulars poster-sized photos of the Basilica and the Tomb of St. Francis.
Then, Friar Jack MARDESIC from the Provincial Custody of St. Bonaventure in France and Belgium spoke on behalf of those Capitulars who were religious brothers. He reminded the Capitulars to be mindful of the importance fostering vocations for those called to be religious brothers as well as those called to the priesthood.
An “Open Letter to All the Fraternities of the Order from the Friars Gathered at the 202nd Ordinary General Chapter of 2019” was presented in the Aula. All the confreres were invited to be signs of reconciliation—friars in harmony with all of creation, who desire to bring peace to our neighboring brothers and sisters, especially those in poverty, living on the outskirts of the world.
In fulfilment of its final duties, the Chapter assembly elected the General Econom, reconfirming Friar Nicola ROSA from the Province of St. Nicholas and St. Angelo in Italy (Puglia). Friar Leszek ŁUCZKANIN of the Province of St. Maximilian M. Kolbe in Poland (Gdańsk) was elected the General Exactor. The General Definitory will then choose other friars and lay consultants to form a team for the General Financial Office.
Friar Carlos TROVARELLI, the Minister General, made some opening remarks to the friars and thanked the Capitulars for the fraternal spirit with which they carried out their work during this month together. He invited them all to collaborate in implementing what had been proposed and voted on, in particular, the opening of new missionary presences.
Afterwards, the Secretary General, Friar Tomasz SZYMCZAK, thanked all those who worked for the Chapter.
Then the Capitulars prayed for those who died during the last six years. At 12:30 p.m., the Minister General gave his final blessing and the Ordinary General Chapter was concluded.
Friar Aurelio ERCOLI, Chronicler
As we prepare to depart from our chapter, we hear words in the First Reading that could almost be our commissioning, “We are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us.” We are a new creation in Christ. We no longer judge anyone according to the flesh.
This is the vision of a world made new in Christ, which is still in the process of being formed in the world. As heralds and ambassadors, we go forth to proclaim in word and deed, to the friars and to the world, that the world can be healed in God’s love. We promise to live as a new creation, filled with the love and vitality and freedom that only Christ can give. We promise to view those around us who are following the wrong path not as enemies of the Gospel, but rather as brothers and sisters who need Christ’s love through us to find their way again.
And so, we implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. We implore you on behalf of Christ, share the Good News to a broken world that it, too, can be reconciled to our God.