On Sunday, September 20, 2020, the Capitulars of the Province of St. Elizabeth in Germany were summoned for an Extraordinary Provincial Chapter. The reason for the Chapter was to discuss the planned erection of a new friary in the Diocese of Osnabrück, Germany.
Due to restrictions imposed by the coronavirus, four confreres residing abroad were unable to participate. One of them was the Minister General, Friar Carlos TROVARELLI, who instead sent a letter to the friars. However all of the other Capitulars were present, despite the convocation being issued on such short notice. The government of the Order was represented by the Assistant General for the Centralis Europae Foederatio (CEF) Friar Dominique MATHIEU.
Last June, the Minister Provincial, Friar Andreas MURK, learned that the Diocese of Osnabrück was looking for a new community to occupy a convent that formerly belonged to the Dominican Sisters. Friar Andreas contacted the bishop and learned that several religious orders were interested in the convent. Although the ecclesiastical situation in Germany is rather difficult, the Diocese of Osnabrück is known for its appreciation of religious and this convent in Lage-Rieste offered many pastoral possibilities such as parish and shrine ministry, guest house ministry, ministry serving refugees, etc. In particular, the diocese made it clear that it was looking for a community capable of revitalizing the site as a “spiritual place”.
Having noted the various preliminary discussions held with the diocese and the initial decisions made by the Provincial Definitory, the Capitulars debated the pros and cons of erecting a new friary. It is clear that the Province of Germany cannot manage this new friary alone; therefore, the new friary is being conceived as an international project and as such, shows the eagerness of the Province of Germany for better collaboration at the inter-Jurisdictional level. The Province of St. Maximilian M. Kolbe in India very quickly announced its willingness to collaborate. Dialogue with other Provinces is still ongoing.
When the Capitulars unanimously voted to approve the request, they made a historic decision: the last time the Province of Germany erected a friary was sixty-three years ago. At that time, the friars decided to reopen the now closed friary in Bonn, the capital of Western Germany
Let us pray to the Lord to bless the new friary: “New wine for new wineskins” (Mt 9:17).
Friar Mateusz KOTYŁO, Provincial Vicar