Dear friars,

Peace and All Good! Best wishes for a holy 2019 –to you, your communities, your Provinces, your Custodies, your families, and to all the people who are in any way linked to our Order. I greet you from the Perpetual Adoration Chapel of the Most Holy Sacrament inside our basilica in Niepokalanów, Poland.  We inaugurated it on September 1, 2018, as the eighth World Center of Prayer for Peace. For us in Europe, September 1 is a somewhat difficult date, because it marks the beginning of the Second World War. How much we still need peace today! Sure, the World Wars seem to have ended, yet how many locations in the world are places of suffering, of war and unrest. This why we shall join all Christians in prayer this January 1, on the World Day of Peace. What I wish for you this year, brothers, has two aspects.

The first is welcoming and celebrating our differences. In August of 2018, we had our Extraordinary General Chapter for the renewal of the Constitutions and now we are preparing for the next Ordinary General Chapter this May 2019. During the Chapter of 2018, we experienced the beauty of learning about and valuing our differences, I think it is a great commitment, a great grace and a great opportunity that the Lord affords us, in that we can bring our differences together for the good of the Church and the world…the Church and the world. We are called to bring our differences together, so that the Order and the Church in the world may be enriched.

The second wish I would like to express is that you learn about a very particular kind of peace. That is, a restless peace. Certainly not the kind of restlessness that only takes into account self-referentiality. That is not it. The restlessness I speak of here is restlessness for the mission. It is about being enthusiastic in seeking new ways to proclaim the Gospel today; to announce the Good News to all; to proclaim the beauty of Franciscan life, which is founded on the Gospel. It is about having the kind of courage and restlessness that St. Maximilian Kolbe had, when he brought together the differences of seven hundred friars. Moreover, he gave every friar what he needed to fulfil his mission and live out his passion for the kingdom. How much imagination St. Maximilian Kolbe had! It made him restless, so that he needed to proclaim to everyone the beauty of Christian life and the beauty of trusting Mary, as well.  This great man, this Franciscan, this great saint, teaches all of this to us.

This, my brothers, is what I wish for you in the New Year that the Lord gives us. May it truly be a year in which we are called to rejoice in our differences, and may the Lord give us the grace of a holy restlessness to announce the Good News and always find new ways to proclaim the Gospel. Best wishes to you all, my brothers, to the Poor Clare Sisters and to our brothers and sisters in the Secular Franciscan Order.

Happy New Year!