On February 17-21, 2020, the friars of the Provincial Custody of Blessed Agnellus of Pisa in Great Britain-Ireland (BAP( gathered to partake in an Extraordinary Chapter.
The Chapter holds unique importance in the lives of the friars; it is the most authoritative and fraternal expression of the unity of our common consecrated life. This is because, as the Constitutions of our Order describe: “The service of authority in the Order is exercised in Chapters, and by the Ministers, Custodes and Guardians. The purpose of this service is correctly to order and guide the life and mission of the fraternity.”
In order to properly prepare for the Chapter, the friars of the BAP Custody had, in the weeks leading up to the Chapter, entered into a spirit of fervent and watchful prayer. It is always a great joy for the friars to get a chance to see one another and to share with one another the graces and blessings of their various communities, ministries and apostolates.
The Chapter itself was held at the Conventual Franciscan Parish of St. Anthony in Liverpool. Among those present at the Chapter was the Most Reverend Carlos TROVARELLI, the 120th Minister General of our Order and the successor of St. Francis of Assisi. Others present included the Very Reverend James MCCURRY, Minister Provincial of the Mother Province of Our Lady of the Angels in the USA and Ciprian BUDĂU, Provincial Custos of the BAP Custody. The Chapter opened with a prayer to the Holy Spirit, and throughout, the friars, in their own prayers, entrusted the Chapter proceedings to the intercession of Mary Immaculate, to whom our Order is consecrated. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was at the center of each day, and the Chapter was a prayerful and joyous moment in the life of the fraternity. Much holy and necessary work was undertaken with the grace and guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is a wonderful and sacred thing for the friars to enjoy each other’s company.
The Chapter was convened to provide an update on the progress of the Four-Year Custodial Plan, to address various issues regarding the restructuring of the Custody and to study the possibility of new pastoral and cultural projects.
The reports presented by the Provincial Custos, the Custodial Econom and the formation team of the Custody provided the friars with an update on the Custodial Plan. There was also a report given on the new presence in Walsingham, England. Regarding the restructuring of the Custody, the friars primarily discussed their presence in Scotland, the communities of Manchester, England, and the study of a possible new presence in Ireland. Among the new pastoral and cultural projects being considered, the Chapter studied the possibility of starting a Franciscan Spirituality Center and the possibility of participating in the management of an academic study program in Franciscanism in the Department of Theology and Religion at the prestigious University of Durham, England. In addition, the Chapter planned the next steps for the revision of the Custodial Statutes and other internal legislative documents.
All good things must come to an end, therefore, after celebrating Mass together one final time, the friars had to depart and return to the given fields of their pastoral work throughout Great Britain and Ireland – and indeed, throughout the world.
A special word of thanks must be given to Friar Carlos for having journeyed from Rome to be at the Chapter. For the friars, it was a source of great joy and delight to have the successor of St. Francis with them for the whole week. Also, a note of heartfelt thanks must be given to Friar Kevin HANLEY, the Pastor and Guardian at St. Anthony’s in Liverpool and to the resident friars and all the lay faithful of the parish who labored so patiently and graciously in order to make the Chapter the beautiful moment of fraternity it certainly was.
Fra Gerard Mary TOMAN