Last year, few meetings were possible due to the pandemic. On June 12-14, 2022, a small meeting took place in the Province. Eleven friars accepted the invitation to the friary in Schwarzenberg.
The meeting started on Sunday evening, with a convivial barbecue. On Monday, there were some challenging topics on the agenda. To begin, the Minister Provincial, Friar Andreas MURK, gave a report on some aspects regarding the issue of abuse. Next, Ms. LADENBURGER and Ms. LÖRSCH, Attorneys at Law, reported from Cologne via the Zoom Internet platform. Both lawyers were appointed by the Provincial Definitory to prepare an independent reassessment of some abuse cases. Primary importance was placed on the perspective of the affected victims: How were they treated after the abuse episode? How did the Province, as a system, fail to prevent the abuse or allow it to take place? The abuse cases also had to be evaluated from a legal perspective. Finally, the friars addressed what needs to be done to prevent abuse in the future. In recent years, many measures along this line have already been developed and implemented in the Province.
Monday afternoon was devoted to discussing financial matters. Friar Andreas showed how the financial situation has worsened in some places over the past few months. He also made it clear that previous sources of income will disappear relatively quickly. In a discussion on how to earn a living in the future, the question of what actually was important to the friars was raised. How did the friars want to shape their lives in the future? Despite the difficult topic and a certain sense of helplessness, it became clear that the friars would look to the future trusting in God. On Monday evening, the friars celebrated a festive Mass in honor of St. Anthony.
To compensate for an exhausting day of meetings, the friars went on an outing after Mass on Tuesday. First, they visited the Maria Frieden Abbey, where Abbess M. Mechthild STÜRMER gave the friars a guided tour of the monastery. She has lately become a nationally known figure because of her commitment to providing hospitality to people. She impressed the friars with her determination and the conviction that our task is simply to help people in difficulty. The next stop on the day’s excursion was Vierzehnheiligen, one of the main pilgrimage sites in Germany. It is served by the Friars Minor (OFM). After lunch in the restaurant, the Guardian of the site, Friar Maximilian WAGNER, gave the friars a guided tour of the impressive basilica and showed them the friary, as well. The outing concluded with a visit to the Franciscan Sisters in Vierzehnheiligen for some coffee and cake. The Superior General, Sister Regina PRÖLS, was delighted with the visit.
Friar Andreas MURK