On March 14-16, 2023, the General Assembly of the Franciscan Conference of Mexico (Conferencia Franciscana de México -COFRAMEX), took place at the Casa Juan Pablo II Retreat Center in San Juan de los Lagos, State of Jalisco, Mexico.
About one hundred and twenty men and women religious from the various branches of the Franciscan Family participated. These included members of the Conventual and Capuchin Franciscans, the Friars Minor and the Third Order Regular. In addition, there were sisters from the Poor Clares and Capuchin Poor Clares, as well as members of other Second Order institutes, some regional Ministers from the Secular Franciscan Order, and representatives from various other religious institutes of Franciscan inspiration. The Conventual Franciscan postulants from the Province of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico and the postulants from the Third Order Regular also participated.
The general theme of the Assembly was: “A Multifaceted Centenary in Which Several Centenaries Will Be Celebrated.”
Several topics were covered during the Assembly. They included:
- The Approval of the Later Rule (Friar Ángel Gabino GUTIÉRREZ MARTÍNEZ, OFM, Minister Provincial of the Province of Saints Francis and James in Mexico). He began by posing the questions: “Who am I?” “Where do I come from?” “Where am I going?” — I am a gift from God, I come from a difficult reality and I am heading towards an encounter (synodality). He spoke about our need to recover some elements related to our way of life which have given rise to other charisms and forms of consecrated life in the Church.
- The Later Rule (Friar Rubén MARTÍNEZ HERNÁNDEZ, OFMConv.). Friar Rubén pointed out that the Rule helps us recover the beauty within the Church and the Order. The norms of the Rule help us set limits; they protect the beauty we have chosen and they encourage fidelity and creativity without lacking what is essential: the Gospel.
- The Gift of the Stigmata (Friar Armando LEAL MARTÍNEZ, OFM Cap.). The marks of the stigmata are signs of Love towards His beloved. They are realized when Jesus touches us and the frailty of our brothers is conceived as a grace. One cannot live without brothers.
- The Christmas at Greccio, 1223-2023 (Friar Raúl RAMÍREZ HERNÁNDEZ, OFM Conv.). St. Francis wanted those present to participate fully in what was being celebrated so that the celebration would move them to a deeper faith and a more ardent devotion.
- The Canticle of the Creatures (Friar Néstor Saúl WER GONZÁLEZ, OFM Cap.). Our charismatic values teach us that Francis looked upon creation with a sense of harmony. In creation we can see God. God is manifest throughout all of creation.
- The Easter of St. Francis (Friar Carlos A. CATZIN JUÁREZ, OFM Conv). The Easter of St. Francis is a journey of growth, of maturity. The Easter grace of our seraphic father is a real force, an overflowing river that bathes and nourishes the dynamics of our growth and gradually becomes a source of shining strength for us.
Those attending the Assembly also made a pilgrimage to the Basilica of Nuestra Señora de San Juan de los Lagos, where they prayed at the feet of the Immaculate Virgin. They asked for her patronage and assistance in their journey, and prayed that she might help them faithfully and creatively live their Franciscan values and be witnesses and instruments of God’s peace. The atmosphere of fraternal joy pervading the Assembly invigorated and enriched all of the participating religious.
Friar Fausto de Jesús RAMÍREZ ROSARIO