On November 21-24, 2023, the 33rd annual Franciscan missionary assembly was held at the Seraphicum College in Rome. The participants included eleven mission animators from the Jurisdictions of the Federazione Intermediterranea Ministri Provinciali (FIMP), eight lay collaborators from the local mission centers, two Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Assisi, and two friar animators from Poland and Croatia.

The Assembly was organized by the FIMP Mission Center under the theme: “The Challenges of the Mission and the Inculturation of the Gospel in a Changing World.” The date for the Assembly was chosen to promote reflection on the themes in Pope Francis’ first Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii gaudium, which was published ten years ago, on November 24, 2013, eight months after the Pope’s election to the papal throne. The speakers for the Assembly included Friar Giulio CESAREO, Director of the Communications Office of the Sacred Convent of Assisi; Friar Enzo FORTUNATO, journalist and author; and the Comboni Missionary Father Giulio ALBANESE, Director of the Mission Center of the Diocese of Rome.
The three speakers talked about the main points of Evangelii gaudium. They highlighted the objectives of the programmatic plan of Pope Francis’ magisterium, which calls for a decisively mission-oriented Church, a Church with open doors, in solidarity with the poor and one that joyfully proclaims the Gospel in today’s world. In addition, the speakers focused on the new style of being Church, going outside of its own structures, living synodal spirituality and really diving into those existential peripheries, namely, the places that challenge society and the Church to live the Gospel sine glossa, as St. Francis of Assisi urged.
On the last day, the participants listened to an online message from the Secretary General for Mission Animation (SGAM), Friar Dariusz MAZUREK, who was in Venezuela. He expressed his affinity with the mission animators and urged them to live the gift of the Rule of St. Francis in a markedly missionary style and in tune with the 800th anniversary of the Christmas at Greccio. The Director of the FIMP Mission Center, Friar Paolo FIASCONARO, talked about the activities that the FIMP Mission Center carries out through the media, in dialogue with the local Church, and with the animators and the Conventual Franciscan missionaries in forty countries around the world. Finally, he talked about the Center’s summer outreach program carried out on the banks of the Tiber River in Rome. Friar Valerio FOLLI, of the General Secretariat for Mission Animation (SGAM), talked about the progress of the first three years of the Order’s Projects Office, which has financed sixty projects that had been requested by missionaries from our Jurisdictions around the world. Another thirty projects are in the process of being verified or require additional documentation.
Two reports were made. One was by Paolo LIU, the former Guardian of the friary in Xi’an, China. \he reported on the initiatives and preparations underway to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the opening of the mission in China (1925-2025). The opening of that mission marked a turning point in the missionary activities of the Order after the First World War. The other report was given by Friar Miguel Angel SALCEDO SALCEDO, a student in Rome. He reported on the status of our mission in Venezuela which is experiencing difficult times due to serious social upheaval.
Liturgical celebrations for the Assembly were presided over by Friar Giulio CESAREO; by Friar Tomasz SZYMCZAK, the Secretary General; and by Friar Agnello STOIA, the Pastor of St. Peter’s Basilica. After the Mass, Friar Agnello led the friars on an interesting visit to the Tomb of St. Peter and revealed the beauties of the Constantinian Basilica [the remains of Old St. Peter’s Basilica], pointing out various theological, historical and iconographic highlights.

Director of the FIMP Missionary Center