On Saturday, May 18, 2019, the 202nd Ordinary General Chapter of the Friars Minor Conventual began at the Sacred Convent in Assisi.
Its first duty was to elect the Recording Secretary, Friar Emanuele RIMOLI, who then officially opened the work of the Chapter. There were 91 Capitulars and 13 auditors (without the right to vote). The tally of Capitulars according to their Federation of origin was as follows: African Federation of Conventual Franciscans (AFCOF) – 9; Centralis Europae Foederatio (CEF) – 11; Conventual Franciscan Federation (CFF) – 13; Federación América Latina Conventuales (FALC) – 16; Federation of Asian Minors Conventual (FAMC) – 8; Foederatio Europae Mediae et Orientalis (FEMO) – 19; and Federazione Inter-mediterranea Ministri Provinciali (FIMP) – 28.
The next day was dedicated to reflection and prayer. His Eminence, Luis Antonio Gokim Cardinal TAGLE, Metropolitan Archbishop of Manila, the Philippines, and President of International Caritas, gave two talks, one in the morning on prophecy and another in the afternoon on mission. He also presided over the Mass.
On Monday, May 20, Friar Tomasz SZYMCZAK was elected Secretary General of the Chapter and Friars Jan MACIEJOWSKI, Colin Charles SAMMUT and Friar Maurizio BRIDIO were elected Moderators. In the afternoon, the outgoing Minister General, Friar Marco TASCA, read his report. In it, he mentioned the vitality of our Jurisdictions in the southern hemisphere, and the aging of the friars in some of our more ancient Jurisdictions.
As the Chapter progressed, reports were heard from the General Procurator, Friar Maurizio DI PAOLO; the General Delegate for the Second Order and Affiliated Institutions, Friar Germano TOGNETTI; the General Assistant for the Secular Franciscan Order (OFS), Friar Alfred PARAMBAKATHU; the International President of the Militia of the Immaculate (M.I.), Friar Raffaele DI MURO; the General Econom, Friar Nicola ROSA; the Secretary General for Formation, Friar Louis PANTHIRUVELIL; the Secretary General for Mission Animation, Friar Jarosław WYSOCZAŃSKI; the Postulator General, Friar Damian-Gheorghe PĂTRAŞCU; the General Delegate for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, Friar Joseph BLAY; the General Delegate for Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue, Friar Silvestru BEJAN, and the Secretary of the Executive Committee for the Revision of the Constitutions, Friar Timothy KULBICKI.
Afterwards, the reports were discussed in mixed groups. On Saturday, May 25, the Capitulars elected Friar Carlos Alberto TROVARELLI as the 120th Minister General of the Order. Friar Carlos belongs to the religious “Rioplatense” Province of St. Anthony of Padua in Argentina and Uruguay. He was born in Cinco Saltos (Rio Negro), Argentina, on June 21, 1962. He made his solemn profession on October 4, 1990, and was ordained to the priesthood on March 25, 1995.
On Monday, May 27, the General Definitors were elected. They are: the Vicar General, Friar Jan MACIEJOWSKI, current Minister Provincial of the Province of St. Maximilian M. Kolbe in Poland (Gdańsk); the Secretary General, Friar Tomasz SZYMCZAK of the Province of the Immaculate Mother of God in Poland (Warsaw); the Assistant General for the FIMP Federation, Friar Giovanni VOLTAN, current Minister Provincial of the Italian Province of St. Anthony of Padua (Northern Italy); the Assistant General for the FEMO Federation, Friar Tomáš LESŇÁK, current Provincial Custos of the Provincial Custody of the Immaculate Conception of the B.V.M. in Slovakia; the Assistant General for the FAMC Federation, (reconfirmed) Friar Benedetto Seung-jae BAEK; the Assistant General for the CFF Federation (reconfirmed) Friar Jude Martin WINKLER; the Assistant General for the CEF Federation, Friar Dominique Joseph MATHIEU of the Provincial Custody of the Orient and the Holy Land; the Assistant General for the FALC Federation, Friar Rogério PEREIRA XAVIER of the Province of St. Francis in Brazil; the Assistant General for the AFCOF Federation, Friar Anthony Bezo KUTIERO, current Provincial Custos of the Provincial Custody of St. Anthony of Padua in Ghana.
On Tuesday, May 28, the Chapter was transferred to the Sanctuary of Merciful Love in Collevalenza, Italy. On Wednesday, May 29, discussion and voting on the General Statutes began. Its chapters followed the themes of the Constitutions. As was done at the 2018 Extraordinary General Chapter, the Capitulars voted article by article and there were many iuxta modum.
At the same time, the Capitulars discussed and voted on the Motions. Of note was Motion No. 8, which concerned the revision of a Special Statute for the General Custody of Assisi and the Sacred Convent of St. Francis in Assisi. Its main issues concerned the missio of Assisi’s three communities (Sacred Convent, Franciscanum and Rivotorto), the privilege of its “double belonging” and the voting members of its Custodial Chapter.
Motion No. 11 was equally important. It dealt with the redesign of the Jurisdictions of southern Italy. It involved the Province of St. Bernardine and St. Angelo in Italy (Abruzzo), the Province of the Seraphic Father St. Francis in Italy (Naples), the Province of St. Nicholas and St. Angelo in Italy (Puglia), The Province of St. Agatha and St. Lucy in Italy (Sicily) and the Provincial Custody of St. Daniel and Companion Martyrs in Italy (Calabria). The approved proposal called for Abruzzo and Puglia to unite into one Province; Sicily and Calabria to unite into another Province; and Naples was asked to redesign its presences before it joined with other Jurisdictions. The whole process is to be concluded by Easter of 2024.
On Friday, June 7, the overall text of the General Statutes was unanimously approved.
On Saturday, June 8, Friar Kazimierz SZULC, the Provincial Custos of the Provincial Custody of St. Francis of Assisi in Kenya, presented a Motion to erect the Custody as a Province. Kenya has around forty solemnly professed friars and six friaries. Likewise, Friar Maximilianus Kalef SEMBIRING the Custos of the Provincial Custody of Mary Immaculate in Indonesia presented a Motion to erect the Custody as a Province; Indonesia has eight friaries and around seventy-five solemnly professed friars. After some discussion, the Capitulars voted by acclamation and unanimously approved the erection of both Provinces.
On Monday June 10, Friar Louis PANTHIRUVELIL and Friar Franklin Antonio DURÁN ZAMBRANO, Secretary and Vice-Secretary General for Formation, summarized the contents of Franciscan Discipleship. In its Part I, formation is seen as one being conformed to Christ. Part II deals with the stages of formation. Part III is about ongoing formation as a continuous formative journey of the friar; and Part IV deals with the competences of the Superiors in the formation field and in the formation of formators. The Capitulars discussed the document in the Aula and worked on its evaluation, grouped according to Coetus.
On Wednesday, June 12, the Ratio Studiorum was presented, again by Friars Louis PANTHIRUVELIL and Franklin Antonio DURÁN ZAMBRANO. The first chapter deals with the intellectual formation of the friars. The second chapter covers the areas of study in various formation stages. The third chapter is about the protagonists of intellectual formation. Finally, the fourth chapter examines the structures and means used for studies.
On Friday, June 14, the Motion prepared by the Steering Committee for Franciscan Discipleship and the Ratio Studiorum was approved. Franciscan Discipleship will be approved ad experimentum by the General Definitory by 2022 and be submitted for the approval of the 2025 Ordinary General Chapter. The Ratio Studiorum will be definitively approved by the General Definitory itself, by 2022, because the approval of the Chapter is not required by the Constitutions.
On Saturday, June 15, 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. 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.
On June 17, His Eminence, Angelo Cardinal COMASTRI, presided over Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. At noon, there was an audience with Pope Francis in the Clementine Hall. After a salutation from the newly elected Minister General, Friar Carlos TROVARELLI, the Pope then spoke and invited the friars to live as “brothers and in minority.” After imparting his apostolic blessing, Pope Francis bade the Capitulars farewell and thanked them for their prayers for him and his service.
Friar Aurelio ERCOLI, Chronicler
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