From July 24 to August 20, 2022, eight friars from the Federazione Inter-mediterranea Ministri Provinciali (FIMP) were guests at the Rivotorto proto-friary as they carried out their second novitiate experience in preparation for solemn profession.
The eight participants were Friars Alejandro María ALDAVERO ROMERO and César Antonio EUCEDA CHAVER from the Province of Our Lady of Monserrat in Spain; Friar Augusto Esteban URZÚA GONZÁLES from the Provincial Delegation in Chile of the Italian Province of St. Anthony of Padua; Friars Ettore FILIPPUCCI, Emiliano DI SEBASTIANO and Roberto LIGGERI from the Italian Province of St. Francis of Assisi (Central Italy); Friar Antonio GRASSI from the Province of St. Nicholas and St. Angelo in Italy (Puglia); and Friar Domenico Paolo DI RIDOLFI from the Province of St. Bernardine and St. Angelo in Italy (Abruzzo-Molise). The second novitiate experience was led by Friar Bernardino HOSPITAL POSADA from Spain and Friar Etienne GILSON from the Province of St. Paul the Apostle in Malta.
During the first week, Friar Bernardino helped the confreres put prayer back at the center of their lives. He began with the question of why we pray. Greater awareness in this area can help one avoid two risks of religious life: settling on the routine of community prayer to the point that it becomes an empty ritual, or getting so caught up in daily activities that one’s personal prayer life is overshadowed. To explore this topic further, the friars met with the Urbanist Poor Clares in Montone, Italy, whose testimony highlighted the importance of maintaining a spiritual life that immerses one’s whole being in the sense of belonging to the greater Church.
The second week began with a meeting led by Sister Samuela RIGON on the topic of one’s personal history. The week continued with an existential interpretation of the history of salvation as told through biblical texts. Friar Gianni CAPPELLETTO explored the history of Sacred Scripture in order to stimulate some existential questions that cannot be answered without mirroring ourselves in the Word of God: Who am I? Whose am I? For whom am I? Who will I be? How will I be? These questions risk being answered only from the human and psychological perspective. However, one cannot be happy unless one grasps the Eucharistic perspective, which leads to a fuller relationship with God, with one’s neighbor and with oneself.
The third week began with a presentation by the theologian Simona SEGOLONI who asked the friars to reflect on the meaning of their call in today’s Church. Under the guidance of Friar Etienne GILSON, the friars then looked at the different ways that the face of Christ is revealed, so that they might follow Him more sincerely.
The fourth week began with the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in Loreto, Italy. The next two days were spent at the hermitage in Montedinove, Italy. There, it was possible to listen to God in silence and to begin looking toward the future in the light of the Rule of St. Francis and the road traveled thus far.
Another important activity during the month was visiting places in Italy where St. Francis lived, and getting to know the friars who currently reside there. Among the sites visited were the Eremo delle Carceri hermitage complex; various locations mentioned in the Little Flowers of St. Francis; the Sanctuary of La Verna; the Sanctuary of Santa Angela in Foligno; the Le Celle friary, the Sanctuary of Santa Margherita and the Church of San Francesco in Cortona; the sanctuaries in Italy’s Reati Valley; and the Sanctuary of San Giuseppe da Copertino in Osimo.
Finally, we must mention the Rivotorto community, which hosted the second novitiate friars with such care and fraternal affection. They also started each day with the second novitiate friars by praising the Lord with them in the Sacro Tugurio [Sacred Hut].
The month-long second novitiate ended with Mass at the Sacred Convent in Assisi where each of the participants received a Tau cross. The cross was a sign of their future lives as solemnly professed Franciscan friars and a symbol of their response to Christ’s call. Today, as always, Christ says to them, and to all friars, “Go and do likewise.”
Friar Roberto LIGGERI