On April 3-9, 2022, the Ministers General of the Franciscan First Order and the Third Order Regular, together with their General Definitories, participated in a joint spiritual retreat at the Franciscan sanctuary of La Verna, Italy. The attending Ministers General were: Friars Massimo FUSARELLI, OFM; Roberto GENUIN, OFM Cap.; Carlos TROVARELLI, OFM Conv.; and Amando Trujillo CANO, TOR.
This retreat modeled the one held in 2017. It has been repeated because the roster of Ministers General and Definitors has changed in recent years. In addition, the retreat was taking place on the eve of the “Franciscan Centenary,” a unique anniversary in which several significant events in the life of St. Francis are being celebrated from 2023 to 2026, namely, the 800th anniversaries of the Later Rule, the Christmas at Greccio, the Stigmata, the Canticle of the Creatures, and the Transitus of the Seraphic Father.
All of the Conventual Franciscan General Definitors were able to attend the retreat, except for Friar Rogério PEREIRA XAVIER who had to return to Brazil due to the death of his father.
The first three days of the retreat were led by Friar Antonio RAMINA, OFM Conv., Rector of the Basilica of St. Anthony in Padua. The theme of the retreat was “Fraternity and Mission.” The last two days were led by Friar Francesco RUFFATO, OFM, one of the three hermits of La Verna.
The sanctuary provided an atmosphere of recollection: “not in all the world is there a more holy mountain” because it contains the “bare rock” upon which the Poverello received the stigmata. On the first evening, April 3, the participants were greeted with a blanket of snow. The success of this retreat was due to having common prayer with the community, the effective spiritual reflections from the two animators, and being direct contact with creation (“cum omne tempo”: the weather would alternate between snow and sun, rain and strong wind, fog and sun and then everything else). There were also times for fraternity and for getting to know one another, especially at meals, with the diners mixing it up from time to time to sit next to different friars.
On the last day, Saturday, April 9, the Ministers General conducted one of their periodic meetings and then set off in the early afternoon, each returning to his own General Curia. The Conventual Franciscan Definitors met to continue their 22nd session of the General Definitory, which began on April 2, and will conclude on Holy Wednesday, April 13.
It’s once again back to work, as always, but it’s different when you come down from the mountain after an experience of grace.
Friar Giovanni VOLTAN