On October 6-7, 2022, the Minister General, Friar Carlos TROVARELLI and the Procurator General, Friar Maurizio DI PAOLO, met with the confreres of the Province of the Seraphic Father St. Francis in Italy (Naples). The meeting was held in Nocera Inferiore, Italy, and was conducted in two shifts.
During their timely and fraternal visit, the visitors spoke about the three objectives that the last Provincial Chapter identified as priorities to be worked on. They are: the fraternal and spiritual life, finances, and the restructuring of the Province (cf. Motion No. 15 of the General Chapter 2019).
The spiritual and fraternal life
Citing some articles from the Constitutions, Friar Carlos listed some of the elements that characterize the lifestyle and mission of the Friars Minor Conventual, which is founded upon the Most Holy Trinity. It follows therefore, that the Gospel must be lived in fraternal communion, with humanizing relationships ad intra and ad extra, in the humble service of the least. Conventuality is expressed in active and co-responsible fraternity, oriented towards contemplation and mission.
Finances, work and sharing
With the help of a PowerPoint presentation, Friar Maurizio went over some financial issues, point by point, as they were set forth in the Provincial Four-Year Plan (PPQ), with the aim of experiencing the grace of working and sharing together as true Friars Minor. Financial matters should not be reduced to mere accounting reports. We must always remember that the way we deal with financial matters is a determining aspect of one of the fundamental traits of religious life—poverty—which we embrace the moment we profess our vows.
One of the best terms to describe religious poverty is “sharing.” Combining resources and sharing goods means being fully aware of belonging to the family and its charism. Friar Maurizio pointed out one new item concerning canon 1376 of the Code of Canon Law. It was recently amended as “protection against financial abuse” with two new paragraphs added stipulating punishment for those who steal or alienate ecclesiastical goods without the prescribed permission and for those who are recognized as negligent in the administration of ecclesiastical assets.
Restructuring the Province
The afternoons were dedicated to the subject of restructuring the Province and related clarifications. Friar Carlos spoke about his message from October 4, 2022. He noted that our Constitutions define our Conventual style as the fraternal-minoritical way in which we live. This does not imply a practical purpose; for example, fraternity understood as simply living in community, or as a way of better performing ministerial services. It is recognized as a constitutive and essential element. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the blueprint of our life and mission and it is realized through fraternal communion, minority, penance, conversion, fidelity to the Church and total consecration according to the evangelical counsels.
Finally, Friar Carlos pointed out that the third objective, after the spiritual and fraternal life and finances, is the restructuring of the Province (see Motion No. 15 of the 2019 General Chapter). The restructuring of the Province is more than a strategic reorganization. True restructuring must first of all be spiritual and fraternal, oriented to the community life of the Gospel, in accordance with the evangelical counsels and our particular legislation. Therefore, it is urgent that spiritual and fraternal restructuring be implemented as well as the restructuring described in the Provincial Four-Year Plan—friaries, works, etc. These two paths of restructuring (the fraternal-spiritual one and the structural one) condition and support each other.
Friar Giorgio TUFANO