On Saturday, May 18, 2019, the 202nd Ordinary General Chapter of the Conventual Franciscan friars got underway at the Sacred Convent in Assisi.
Observing the will of the Order’s founder, St. Francis of Assisi, the friars used to gather at the feast of Pentecost to thank the Lord Jesus for the progress they had made and the gifts they had received. They would then ask the Holy Spirit to discern the will of God the Father regarding the direction they should take in the future.
In the same way, during this Chapter, the Superiors of all the Jurisdictions (the Minister General, the Ministers Provincial, the Provincial Custodes and the Delegates – some one hundred Capitulars in all) are meeting to plan the direction for the friars, in keeping with the mandate to proclaim the Gospel to all peoples. For the first time, seven lay brothers are participating at the Chapter, each representing one of the seven Federations. They are serving as Capitulars, with the permission of the Holy See.
After a day of prayer and silence, the Chapter calendar started with discussions in the auditorium. The Capitulars are hearing evaluations covering the last six years; in particular, the outgoing Minister General, Friar Marco TASCA, will be giving a summary of the work carried out by the Order and the challenges it must face in the future.
Obviously, a key moment of the Chapter will take place on Saturday, May 25, when the Chapter elects a new Minister General to lead the confreres for the next six years. Then the Chapter will elect the seven Assistants General. These men will be the Minister General’s closest collaborators and will help him carry out his weighty service.
Later, the Chapter will be transferred to the Shrine of Merciful Love in Collevalenza, Province of Perugia, Italy. The Capitulars will discuss proposals drafted by different confreres from around the world and approve guidelines for a program for the coming years (General Statutes, Franciscan Discipleship, Ratio Studiorum and Special Motions).
The Chapter will end on June 17, in Rome, with an audience with Pope Francis. It will be an opportunity to reconfirm the Order’s obedience to the Church, something that St. Francis always expected he and his friars should do.
At present, the Order has 3995 friars: 84 novices, 480 temporarily professed, 554 solemnly professed, 76 deacons (including 9 permanent deacons), 2777 priests and 24 bishops.
The friars are present in 68 countries. They live in 608 communities distributed across 28 Provinces, 20 Custodies, 22 Delegations and 7 Missions.
Please visit our web page [www.capgenofmconv.org] dedicated to the 2019 Ordinary General Chapter for daily updates on the Chapter’s development.
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