On September 18-22, 2023, on the occasion of the 800th anniversary of the Later Rule, some friars from the Province of St. Jerome in Croatia met at the Sacred Convent in Assisi to participate in a continuing formation program.
Fifteen friars attended the event, which was led by Friar Miljenko HONTIĆ, the Minister Provincial, and Friar Martin JAKOVIĆ, the Vicar Provincial and Director of Continuing Formation. The program included community prayer, lectures, group work, discussions on the topics covered, fraternity with the novices and the friars of the Sacred Convent, and visits to Franciscan places, such as Padua, Fonte Colombo, Greccio, Spoleto, Rivotorto, the Portiuncula, Bagnoregio, and Orvieto.
The first lecture on the Later Rule was delivered by Friar Milan GELO, a doctoral student at the University of Tübingen in Germany. Friar Milan also serves as an associate pastor in the same city, ministering to people from Croatia. He spoke about the historical context of the Rule’s emergence as well as its importance and its implications for us today. He also spoke about the teachings of Pope Francis as a modern and authoritative means of interpreting the Later Rule of St. Francis.
On the second day, the focus was primarily on liturgy. Friar Josip IVANOVIĆ, the Guardian of the St. Francis Friary in Šibenik, Croatia, and a student at the Institute of Pastoral Liturgy in Padua, gave a lecture on Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter Desiderio desideravi, which deals with liturgical formation. Friar Josip pointed out that the liturgy is a place of encounter with Christ and as such, it is a privileged place where fraternal and ecclesial communion is formed and enhanced.
On the third day, Friar Giulio CESAREO, Director of the Communications Office of the Sacred Convent and a professor of moral theology, lectured on the creation of the nativity scene at Greccio. He said that this event was a manifestation of Francis’ faith in Jesus, who offered himself to us and who descended into our human misery in order to free us from that same misery.
On the fourth day, the formation program culminated with Mass celebrated at the tomb of St. Francis. Friar Miljenko presided. In his homily, he urged the friars to refresh the memory of their vocation, looking at the life and example of St. Francis, to reaffirm their loyalty to Christ and the Gospel, and to increasingly foster a more fraternal atmosphere.
On their last day in Assisi, the participants celebrated Mass with the friars of the Sacred Convent in the Lower Basilica of St. Francis. On their return journey to Croatia, they visited the Urbanist Poor Clares of Città di Castello, Italy, who support the Province of Croatia with their prayers.
Friar Zvonimir PERVAN, Provincial Communications Office