On June 20-24, 2022, a meeting of the General Secretariat for Formation (SGF) and the International Commission for Formation (CIF) took place at the St. Maximilian Kolbe Friary in Rome. Representatives of the General Definitory also attended, namely, the Vicar General, Friar Jan MACIEJOWSKI and the Assistant General for the Federazione Inter-mediterranea Ministri Provinciali (FIMP), Friar Giovanni VOLTAN. The Guardian and Rector of the Seraphicum in Rome, Friar Adam MĄCZKA, took part in the meeting as well.
The attending SGF members were Friars Piotr STANISŁAWCZYK (Secretary), Maximilian SEMBIRING, (Vice-Secretary), Joseph KACHELEWA and Kazimierz CIEŚLIK (members). The CIF was re-formed with new members last year. Among the CIF members in attendance were the Secretaries of Formation for the Federations, namely, Friar Alessandro PERISSINOTTO (FIMP), Friar Blasio Ooko OLENGE, African Federation of Conventual Franciscans (AFCOF); Friar Stjepan BRČINA, Centralis Europae Foederatio (CEF); Friar Paul G. SCHLOEMER, Conventual Franciscan Federation (CFF); Friar Jean VIEIRA DE SOUZA, Federación América Latina Conventuales (FALC); Friar Longinus JUDUNG, Federation of Asian Minor Conventuals (FAMC); and Friar Robert ZBIERAŃSKI, Federatio Europae Mediae et Orientalis (FEMO).
The theme of this first meeting was to share reflections on the Franciscan charism in the light of the two revised documents of the Order, Franciscan Discipleship and Ratio studiorum. Motion No. 4 of the 2019 General Chapter requests that these two texts, after suggestions from the various Federations, be approved, ad experimentum, by the Minister General with his Definitory by 2022, and submitted to the 2025 General Chapter for its approval.
The meeting in Rome was a good occasion for the participants to get to know each other. Moreover, it provided an opportunity for face-to-face discussion. The friars of the CIF reported on the status of ongoing and initial formation within their particular Federations, mentioning various challenges and vicissitudes.
During the meeting, some valuable, thematic insights dealing with formation, and with Franciscan Discipleship in particular, were presented. Sister Donatella FORLANI gave a conference on “Important Aspects of Human and Vocational Growth during Various Stages of Formation: Challenges and Opportunities.” Friar Cesare VAIANI, OFM, lectured on “The Franciscan Charism in Formation Today and in the Light of the Documents of the Franciscan Family.” Friars Maximilian SEMBIRING and Giovanni VOLTAN then gave a presentation on the various processes and choices that led to the 2022 version of Franciscan Discipleship. Friar Emanuele RIMOLI gave a presentation on the most recent contributions made to the Ratio studiorum. The texts of both documents, having been examined during the meeting, and subject to the approval of the Minister General with his Definitory, will be sent out next autumn to the whole Order, in various languages, for further study and testing ahead of the 2025 General Chapter.
This meeting was coordinated by the SGF. The participants wrote in their final evaluations that the strength of the meeting was getting to know each other, seeing each other and discussing things together, knowing they were representing the whole Order. The important discussions were focused on ongoing and initial formation in the Federations, in light of the abovementioned documents. Our Franciscan charism relies upon formation of quality, formation that embraces the entire life of each friar and each fraternity. The community at the St. Maximilian Kolbe Friary, led by its Guardian, Friar Germano TOGNETTI, created a fraternal and welcoming atmosphere, which helped everyone feel as though they were at home with family.
Special thanks to the translators, namely, the CIF members themselves and Friar Andrzej GUTKOWSKI who translated Polish to Italian. As part of their desire to deepen their service, the members of the SGF and CIF have planned that, from now until the next General Chapter, they will focus on the theme of transmitting the charism.
Friar Piotr STANISŁAWCZYK, SGF Secretary
Friar Maximilian SEMBIRING, SGF Vice-Secretary