On January 7, 2023, the official opening of the Franciscan Centenary took place in Greccio, Italy, with a delegation of Conventual Franciscan friars in attendance. The Centenary embraces various anniversaries of St. Francis of Assisi which will be celebrated between now and 2026.

Due to the small size of the shrine church in Greccio, only a limited number of people were able to attend the inaugural celebration. The event can be found on the website of the Centenary at: www.centenarifrancescani.org).
Thus, our delegation was comprised of eleven novices from Assisi with their Novice Master, as well as Friars Vincenzo ESPOSITO, Giulio CESAREO and Jorge Rolando FERNANDEZ, also from Assisi. In addition, Friar Giovanni VOLTAN, the Assistant General for the Federazione Inter-mediterranea Ministri Provinciali (FIMP), Friar Alejandro PALACIOS VÁZQUEZ, and the Minister General, Friar Carlos TROVARELLI, came from Rome to attend.
All of the other Ministers General of the Franciscan Family were present, namely, Friar Massimo FUSARELLI, OFM; Friar Roberto GENUIN, OFM Cap.; Friar Amando TRUJILLO, TOR; and Tibor KAUSER, OFS. Each was attended by his own Delegation. Sister Daisy KAAMPARAMBAN was present as well, representing the International Conference of the Brothers and Sisters of the Third Order Regular (CFI-TOR).
The multilingual celebration began at 11:00 a.m., presided over by Friar Luciano DE GIUSTI, OFM, the Minister Provincial of the Friars Minor Province of St. Bonaventure. The event commemorated two particular celebrations for 2023, namely, the 800th anniversary of the Later Rule and the Christmas at Greccio. The event continued with a procession to the grotto of the nativity scene which St. Francis instituted during the Christmas of 1223, in order that one might be an eyewitness to the hardships suffered by the infant Jesus at his birth. The event is described in the first biography of Francis written by Friar Thomas of Celano.
At the end of the celebration, all of the Delegations were offered lunch at the nearby “Oasi Gesú Bambino” Spiritual Retreat Center run by the Friars Minor of the St. Bonaventure Province.
One should point out that this inaugural event was made possible by the good work performed by the various Committees of the Franciscan Family that are guiding the 2023-2026 Centenary.
One can follow the main events, and much more, on the aforementioned Centenary website. It, too, is a sign of the willingness to collaborate within the Franciscan Family. Moreover, it shows the desire to keep the Franciscan Centenary events from becoming nostalgic or triumphalistic and instead use them as an opportunity to re-appropriate our charism in terms of real-life conversion.

Friar John VOLTAN