From October 29 to November 18, 2021, the Minister Provincial of the Italian Province of St. Anthony of Padua (Northern Italy), Friar Roberto BRANDINELLI, made a canonical visitation to the Provincial Delegation in Chile.

The visitation lasted longer than usual due to the pandemic. Friar Roberto was forced to quarantine for five days. Afterwards, the Minister Provincial visited the three communities of the Delegation. He listened to the friars and met with the bishops of the dioceses where the three friaries are located, namely, Copiapó, Santiago and Curicó. Friar Roberto was also able to converse with the Bishop of Rancagua, Chile, where a filial house will soon open in Rancagua’s Angostura suburb, thus launching a new Conventual Franciscan presence.
On November 15-17, the friars conducted a meeting of the Delegation in Copiapó. The event began with a retreat led by Friar Jack GINTING, followed by a formation session on the topic of fraternity led by Friar Christian BORGHESI. In the evening, Mass was celebrated at the San Antonio de Padua Chapel in the Borgoño neighborhood of Copiapó. The Mass was offered for deceased friars, family members and benefactors. It was presided over by Friar Tullio PASTORELLI, the Provincial Delegate.
On the morning of November 16, the friars evaluated the life of the Delegation over the last four years. The evaluation session was led by Friar Fabrizio RESTANTE. The friars used the session to establish some guidelines for the Delegation’s 2022-25 Four-Year Plan. In the afternoon, after some discussion with the friars, the Minister Provincial presented the composition of the communities for the next four years and the names of the friars appointed to various offices, such as the Provincial Delegate, the Guardians, the Econom and the Secretary of the Delegation. Also during the afternoon, Friar Roberto presented the progress of the Province since the meeting with the Guardians, October 25-26, 2021. He proposed a date for the next meeting of the Delegation. In the evening, there was a “Despedida” (farewell) Mass with the parishioners of Copiapó, presided over by Friar Maurizio BRIDIO. The Conventual Franciscans will definitively leave Copiapó after twenty-six years of presence.
On November 17, Mass was celebrated for the community in the friary chapel. During the Mass, the friars professed their vows anew into the hands of the Minister Provincial. On this final day, Friar Tullio PASTORELLI gave the “bienvenido” (welcome) to Friar Eduardo ZAMORA MIGUEL, a friar of the Province of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico who, starting this year, will be a member of the Delegation. There were some updates on our friars in formation, namely, Friar Benjamín CASTRO HERRERA at the novitiate in Colombia and Friar Augusto Esteban URZÚA GONZÁLES in Padua. There were also updates in the areas of youth and vocation ministry; the finances of the Delegation and various activities scheduled for next year.
The visitation of the Minister Provincial and the meeting of the Delegation concluded with a lunch in which the Most Reverend Ricardo MORALES GALINDO, Bishop of Copiapó, was an invited guest.
The whole event was marked by a certain sadness about having to close this important presence of the Delegation, not only because it was our first presence in Chile, but also because of the deep, emotional and pastoral bonds that were created over these last twenty-six years. However, above all, there was a feeling of serenity and gratitude for the many experiences had over these years. Here in Copiapó, the friars were able to witness the “florecer el desierto”—the blooming of the desert—in what is normally one of the driest deserts in the world. We must have faith that the Lord will make other deserts bloom in the places where he calls us and that with our Seraphic Father St. Francis, we will continue to praise the Lord God “with all His creatures.”

Friar Jack GINTING