In 2021, in the midst of the pandemic, the Franciscan family in Germany celebrated the 800th anniversary of its presence beyond the Alps. The Friars Minor Conventual have been continually present in Würzburg, Germany, for 800 years.
That year, on the feast of Pentecost Monday, only a few people were able to participate in the celebration. Nevertheless, the friars gathered at the “Wöllrieder Hof,” near Würzburg, together with the Most Reverend Franz JUNG, Bishop of Würzburg and the Mayor of Würzburg, Johann Christian SCHUCHARDT. The early Franciscans first settled at this site to assist lepers. Next, the participants went in procession to the Franziskanergasse, where the current friary is now located.
In 2022, however, the friars were able to celebrate Pentecost Monday on a larger scale. They were particularly pleased that the Minister General, Friar Carlos A. TROVARELLI, could attend. About fifty friars from Germany and abroad participated in the celebration. The faithful of the city showed their solidarity with the friars and joined them in large numbers for the celebration at the Franziskanerkirche.
The Minister Provincial of the Province of St. Elizabeth in Germany, Friar Andreas MURK, welcomed the Minister General and many other friars from Poland, the Netherlands, Austria-Switzerland, Peru, India, Zambia, Croatia, Slovenia, and the United States. He also greeted the Assistant General for the Centralis Europae Foederatio (CEF) Friar Igor SALMIČ and the CEF President, Friar Milan KOS. Friar Andreas then addressed the Minister Provincial of the Province of St. Anthony and Bl. James of Strepar in Poland (Cracow), Friar Marian GOŁĄB; the Minister Provincial of the Province of St. Jerome in Croatia, Friar Miljenko HONTIĆ; the Custos of the Provincial Custody of St. Leopold and St. Nicolas of Flüe in Austria-Switzerland, Friar Dariusz ZAJĄC; and the Provincial Delegate in Holland, Friar Thijs VAN MOONS, and thanked them for their presence and support.
Mayor SCHUCHARDT expressed gratitude on behalf of the city of Würzburg for the presence of the Conventual Franciscans and underlined some of the common concerns between the friars and the administration, namely, being present for the people and their needs. Bishop JUNG was unable to participate this year due to illness.
Friar Niklaus KUSTER, OFM Cap., from Switzerland, gave the main address. He began a dialogue with history and stated, “The experience of these early pioneers can still inspire us, because the mission always remains the same: to deploy our precious charism in a new culture and bring it into an open future!” He urged the friars to always begin again. “800 years ago, the friars had the courage to venture into a new environment. The future does not move forward by guarding the past, but by starting over.”
After the ceremony, the friars invited the people to stay for coffee and cake in the cloister. Many people took the opportunity to have personal conversations with the friars.
Pentecost Monday Mass was presided over by Friar Igor SALMIČ. Friar Carlos TROVARELLI gave the homily and stressed how much today’s society depends on Franciscan witness, and how much the friars must strive to be authentic sons of St. Francis. “On this centenary anniversary, may God grant us the missionary drive we need to offer this society and this country, ever greater charismatic grace; the grace to conform our personal and institutional lifestyles to the inspirations of the Seraphic Father and his first companions.”
The jubilee celebration ended with a festive dinner. Ad multos annos.
Friar Andreas MURK, Minister Provincial