On January 21-24, 2019, the AFCOF Federation held its annual Assembly of Major Superiors in Subukia, Kenya.
The participants included Minister Provincial Richard CHIMFWEMBE of the Province of the Franciscan Protomartyrs in Zambia along with the Custodes, Friar Anthony Bezo KUTIERO, of the Provincial Custody of St. Anthony of Padua in Ghana; Friar Kazimierz SZULC, of the Provincial Custody of St. Francis of Assisi in Kenya and Friar Dariusz SZYMBORSKI, of the Provincial Custody of St. Maximilian M. Kolbe in Tanzania. Others attending included the Delegates, Friar Wojciech ULMAN of the Provincial Delegation in Uganda and Friar Marek HRYNIEWICKI of the Provincial Delegation in Burkina Faso. Also present was Friar Tadeusz ŚWIĄTKOWSKI, the Assistant General for the African Federation of Conventual Franciscans (AFCOF). The Federation is present in seven African countries.
As usual, the meeting was organized in order to promote better collaboration between the various missionary presences in Africa.
This year’s assembly was focused primarily on cooperation in the area of initial common formation within the Federation. The Federation’s current formation houses include the postulancy houses in Ruiri, Kenya and Munyonyo, Uganda; the novitiates in Itimpi, Zambia, Saltpond, Ghana, and Arusha, Tanzania; the houses for philosophy studies in Lusaka, Zambia and Accra, Ghana, and the house for theology studies in Nairobi, Kenya.
The numbers of vocations continues to rise, so the main concern is finding valid solutions to ensure that these young men receive a formation that is just, integral, Franciscan and within the African context.
Two major difficulties were discussed.
1) It is no longer possible to accommodate all of the theology students in the single formation house in Nairobi. All of its 60 rooms are taken. Since last year, first-year students have been living two to a room and the rooms are small.
2) Maintaining formation programs is a constant challenge for the AFCOF Federation; there are not enough financial resources to cover the cost of studies and daily expenses.
Therefore, much of the discussion was devoted to working out where to send the theology students and how to get the needed funds to do it.
Finally, in preparation for the Ordinary General Chapter, the friars discussed the realization of the Six-Year Plan of the Order and the Federation Report.
Friar Tadeusz ŚWIĄTKOWSKI, Assistant General for the AFCOF