Today, we remembered St. Rita of Cascia. This evening, we entrusted ourselves to the protection of the Order’s Saints and Blesseds.
Friar Vincenzo MARCOLI, the Secretary General, presided over this morning’s Mass. During the Mass, he mentioned the 20th anniversary of priestly ordination of Friar Dariusz SZYMBORSKI, the Provincial Custos of the Provincial Custody of St. Maximilian M. Kolbe in Tanzania.
Friar Jude delivered the homily. In it, he drew a parallel between the First Council of Jerusalem and our Chapter. Like the Apostles, the Capitulars must also seek the truth in the Spirit. To do this, they should listen to the opinions of others without wanting to dominate them. Each Capitular should listen to his brother; he may learn something important from him.
The work in the Chapter auditorium began with the distribution of special gifts from the Postulator General. Friar Damian-Gheorghe PĂTRAŞCU gave each participant a relic of our Martyr Blessed Carlos de Dios MURIAS. Then Friar Germano TOGNETTI, the General Delegate for the Second Order and Affiliated Institutions, delivered his report. He spoke about the importance of the Poor Clares whose vocations are complementary to ours. He mentioned the problems that many monasteries face, such as, having fewer nuns and the aging of the sisters.
Next, Friar Alfred PARAMBAKATHU, the General Assistant for the Secular Franciscan Order (OFS), made his report. He confirmed the excellent collaboration with the Assistants of the other Franciscan families and the need to teach young friars about the OFS and its development.
Friar Raffaele DI MURO, the International President of the Militia of the Immaculate (M.I.), spoke next. Among other things, he talked about the late President of the Association, Mrs. Raffaella AGUZZONI, who passed away on November 5, 2015. He also mentioned the 100th anniversary celebrations for the founding of the M.I., which were held during 2016 and 2017.
The Chapter Secretary announced the death of our confrere Friar Giuseppe UNGARO, of the Italian Province of St. Anthony of Padua (Northern Italy). Friar Giuseppe was born in Padua on May 27, 1919. He made his solemn profession on April 10, 1941, and was ordained to the priesthood on June 6, 1943.
Friar Nicola ROSA, the General Econom, read out his report and illustrated it with a PowerPoint presentation. The Capitulars then entered into a discussion phase, putting special focus on the issue of collaboration between the various Jurisdictions and Federations. Urgent support is needed for our confreres living in missions, for those living under difficult social conditions and for those in initial formation.
Next, Friar Louis PANTHIRUVELIL, the General Secretary for Formation, gave his report. He divided it into geographical areas, highlighting each region’s strengths and problematic realities. He placed particular emphasis on the ever-present need to form formators.
Finally, Friar Jarosław WYSOCZAŃSKI, the Secretary General for Mission Animation, presented his report. He focused on formation and on consolidating missionary spirit in the Order. He also mentioned plans for new presences in Africa, Asia and the Holy Land.
Before dinner, the Capitulars gathered in the Upper Basilica for “Prayer with the Saints of Our Order”. This liturgical event was prepared by Friar Damian-Gheorghe PĂTRAŞCU, in order to entrust the Chapter to our confreres already living with God in paradise.
Friar Aurelio ERCOLI, Chronicler
Our first reading speaks of a gathering of the apostles and Paul and Barnabas in Jerusalem. We call this the first Church council. They gathered to discuss what sort of practices they should ask of the Gentile Christians. Should they be circumcised? Should they follow the dietary laws?
This meeting reminds us that we do not all have the same opinion on how our charism should be lived in the 21st century. Like the apostles, we have to gather together and discuss our lives in the Holy Spirit to discern what has value and what must be changed. We can disagree for none of us has a monopoly on the Holy Spirit’s insight. But we must do that with charity and respect. Likewise, we have to be ready to realize that what we thought was right and just might not be as Spirit filled as we thought.
Hopefully, at the end of the chapter, we can say what the apostles wrote to the communities: we and the Holy Spirit have decided thisG. I have to admit, though, that this phrase does make it sound as if the apostles decided, and then they threw in the Holy Spirit to give their decision more authority. Maybe it would be better if we could say, the Holy Spirit has guided us, and we have listened and assented, to do the following in these coming years.