On May 12 and 16, 2023, the Franciscan Missionary Center of the Federazione Inter-mediterranea Ministri Provinciali (FIMP) conducted meetings with the novices at the Sacred Convent of Assisi, the clerical students at the Rivotorto Friary and the postulants at the San Giuseppe da Copertino Postulancy House in Osimo, Italy.
The meetings were part of the Missionary Center’s ongoing work with young men in formation to increase missionary spirit, internally and externally, in their personal lives and in the pastoral activities promoted in parishes and church centers.
The Director of the Franciscan Missionary Center, Friar Paolo FIASCONARO, invited the young men to reread and study Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium. This year will mark the 10th anniversary of its promulgation (November 24, 2013). The document is central to Pope Francis’ pastoral program, which has changed the face of the Church. It calls the Church to missionary conversion in every pastoral activity and within the ecclesial structures themselves. It has greatly impacted the future path of the Church.
In addition, Friar Paolo discussed the life and activities of the Missionary Center, explaining how it communicates daily with all of the missions of the Order. Currently, the Order is present in forty countries around the world. He also talked about the way missions are requested and funded and how benefactors, friars, parishes and other Church structures, are updated on the missions through the magazine “Il Missionario Francescano” and the news agency “MissioConvInforma.”
Friar Paolo talked about the Order’s flurry of missionary activity in the early 20th century. In 1925, the Order opened a mission in China. In 1930, it opened a mission in Japan with St. Maximilian Kolbe. In 1931, it opened a mission in Zambia with our confrere, the Most Reverend Francesco MAZZIERI, OFM Conv., Bishop Emeritus of Ndola, Zambia. Friar Paolo also mentioned that, during the last half of the 20th century, the Order opened thirty-five missions on five continents.
At the end of each meeting, two short documentaries were screened. One recounted the ninety-year history of the magazine Il Missionario Francescano (1933-2023). The other was on the Missionary Center’s “Mission Possible” outreach, an exhibition booth set up on the banks of the Tiber River in Rome, which it staffed for seven consecutive summers.
Three formators attended the meetings, namely, Friars Vincenzo ESPOSITO, Antonio PARISI and Lucio MASSACESI. They expressed their gratitude for the meetings, which had reawakened the missionary spirit in the young men and increased their desire to commit themselves to being open to missionary conversion in their daily lives.
Friar Paolo will soon be holding another meeting for the student friars, some of whom are newly ordained, at the Friary of St. Anthony at the Baths (“Vigna”) in Rome. In October of 2023, he will hold another meeting for the clerical students at the Seraphicum International College in Rome.
Friar Paolo FIASCONARO, Director of the Missionary Center