On January 22-26, 2024, the Federazione Intermediterranea Ministri Provinciali (FIMP) hosted its 27th Assembly of the Guardians of the Provinces of Southern Italy. The event took place at the Franciscan Oasis in Bari, belonging to the Province of St. Nicholas and St. Angelo in Italy (Puglia).

Thirty Guardians attended. They came from the Province of St. Bernardine and St. Angelo in Italy (Abruzzo-Molise,) the Province of the Seraphic Father St. Francis in Italy (Naples), the Province of Puglia, and the newly-erected Italian Province of the Immaculate Conception (Sicily and Calabria). Friar Giovanni VOLTAN, the General Assistant for the FIMP Federation participated throughout the entire assembly.
This intensive and meaningful assembly was characterized by prayer, formation and fraternity, in a climate of hospitality, openness and discussion.
Friar Felice AUTIERI gave a presentation on the Franciscan jubilees from a historical perspective. He first talked about the Christmas at Greccio, then Francis’ receiving the stigmata on Mount La Verna and finally the Portiuncula, where Francis returned to the house of the Father. It was a journey through the Franciscan Sources to discover the true face of St. Francis during these significant anniversary events.
Next, the Most Reverend Francesco NERI, OFM Cap., Bishop of Otranto, Italy, spoke on the theme: “Visiting, Comforting and Admonishing: Authority as Service.” Authority according to the Gospel, and therefore according to St. Francis, is “a call from God to serve.” Those who exercise authority are called Guardians and Ministers because, according to the original meaning of the word, they are the least of all, and must never forget that the only authority they have is to serve.
Another significant part of the conference were the moments of simple fraternal discussion. They allowed the participants to get to know each other better, exchange experiences, and talk about their works, their needs and their moments of success.
The Ministers Provincial present, and the Assistant General, talked about future prospects and joint initiatives, such as the postulancy program and youth and vocation ministry. They also discussed the ongoing process of unification. In August of 2023, the Provinces of Calabria and Sicily were united into the single Italian Province of the Immaculate Conception.
The Provinces of Abruzzo and Puglia will be united into a single Province during the Ordinary Provincial Chapter to be celebrated in 2025.
On Wednesday, January 24, the Most Reverend Giuseppe PIEMONTESE, OFM Conv., Bishop Emeritus of Terni-Narni-Amelia, Italy, presided over Mass. His presence was very much appreciated.
Also of note: the participants made a visit to the Frontier Community in Mola di Bari, Italy, where they spent the evening with Friar Giuseppe DE STEFANO.
We thank the Lord for this 27th Assembly of the Guardians. Reflecting on Francis’ human journey toward conversion always fosters deeper thought, conversation and our own personal growth.
Special thanks to Friar Daniele MAIORANO and the friars of the Province of Puglia for their fraternal, joyful and attentive hospitality. Their responsiveness to the needs of all made everyone’s stay truly pleasant and peaceful.
May the Lord help us, through the example of St. Francis, to always place authority at the service of fraternal communion.

Friar Giambattista BUONAMANO
Assembly Secretary