On May 9-11, 2023, a meeting of the Franciscan friars and sisters working in Russia took place at the St. Anthony the Wonder Worker Friary in St. Petersburg, Russia.
More than thirty members of the Friars Minor and Conventual Franciscans participated, together with the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Mary, the Poor Clare Missionary Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and members of the Secular Franciscan Order. The participants came from Moscow, St. Petersburg, Astrachan, Pyatigorsk, Chernyakhovsk, Smolensk and Ussurijsk. Brothers and sisters from Franciscan communities in Kazakhstan, namely, Astana, Karaganda, Almaty and Pavlodar, participated online.
In 2023, the Franciscan Family celebrates the 800th anniversary of the Rule. This event was one of the main themes of the meeting. On the first day, Friar Paweł KRUPA, the Superior of the Dominicans of St. Petersburg, gave a lecture on the Rule. He said the Rule is not just a legislative text, the personality of St. Francis lies behind it. It can be compared to the Gospel, which we read to get to know Christ. St. Francis, however, stands out because of his tone: he does not demand that the friars observe the Rule, he begs them. To Francis, the call to holiness has no other motivation than that God is holy. After the lecture, the participants talked about the important role that the Rule plays in their lives. They discussed which passages have particular meaning for them and make up the foundation of their Franciscan identity.
In the evening, the Most Reverend Nikolay DUBININ, OFM Conv., Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of the Mother of God in Moscow, celebrated Mass. During his homily, he said: “We have gathered to thank the Lord for having given the world the Franciscan charism, in which many of us are involved. We are inspired by the example of St. Francis. In him, everything is important and nothing is superfluous. The Franciscan charism is one of many paths we can take on our journey of faith. Each of us chooses his own path, but we walk together, because our being on a common path, our synodality, is what defines us as a Church.” After the liturgy, the bishop blessed the new side altar dedicated to St. Anthony of Padua.
On the second day, there was a meeting with the Most Reverend Giovanni D’ANIELLO, Apostolic Nuncio to the Russian Federation. In the afternoon, the participants toured St. Petersburg and its suburbs in small groups.
On the third day, Friar Paweł KRUPA gave a lecture entitled: “Loving with the Mind.” He spoke about the importance of the mind in knowing and loving God. This was followed by a summary and discussion on further cooperation between the Franciscan communities in Russia. The participants decided to continue working on the Franciscan Missal and on the Liturgy of the Hours, to organize joint spiritual retreats for the friars and to come up with various events to commemorate another important date: the 800th anniversary of the Christmas at Greccio. One of the initiatives will be the publication of a wall calendar featuring images of nativity scenes in various Franciscan friaries with extracts from the Rule.
Friar Dariusz HARASIMOWICZ,
Custos of the Russian General Custody of St. Francis of Assisi