With the fear of the pandemic in recent years gone (almost), the new Ministers Provincial, Custodes and Secretaries of the Conventual Franciscan Jurisdictions were able to resume their annual meeting. The event normally takes place in the first half of January.
The last time this meeting was held was in September of 2021. This year’s meeting took place on January 9-13, 2023, at the Seraphicum College in Rome. The Minister General, Friar Carlos TROVARELLI and the entire General Definitory welcomed and guided the participating confreres who came from the various Federations of the Order. There were five participants from the African Federation of Conventual Franciscans (AFCOF), four from the Centralis Europae Foederatio (CEF), seven from the Conventual Franciscan Federation (CFF), six from the Federation of Asian Minor Conventuals (FAMC), two from the Federación América Latina Conventuales (FALC) and two from the Federazione Inter-mediterranea Ministri Provinciali (FIMP).
After introductions, the meeting program turned to material the Superiors could use in the service entrusted to them. During the week, translating friars helped the participants review the Motions of the 2019 General Chapter. Among these, particular focus was placed on the creation of the Projects Office (presented by Friar Valerio FOLLI); the Promptuary of the Order for dealing with various juridical and fraternal situations (presented by the Procurator General, Friar Maurizio DI PAOLO); and a reflection on how to handle difficult situations within the fraternity (presented by the Secretary General for Formation, Friar Piotr STANISŁAWCZYK). The participants were taught more about the service of authority and obedience from a broad and ecclesial perspective (presented by the former Minister General, Archbishop Gianfranco Agostino GARDIN, OFM Conv., Bishop Emeritus of Treviso, Italy). Finally, the friars learned about the sensitive topic of the abuse of power (presented by Archbishop José Rodríguez CARBALLO, OFM, Secretary of the Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life).
The participants enjoyed a full day of visiting and getting to know each other at the Friary of the Twelve Holy Apostles in Rome. While the Ministers Provincial and Custodes met with the members of the General Financial Office, the Secretaries met with the members of the General Secretariat as well as the General Archivist and the Head of Statistics. The visiting day with the community of the General Curia was crowned with Mass presided over by our confrere, His Eminence, Cardinal Mauro GAMBETTI. A fraternal agape meal followed. The atmosphere was equally welcoming and fraternal at the Seraphicum College. The members of that community represent twenty-seven nationalities and thus demonstrate the intercultural face of the Order.
“To be continued” are words we sometimes see ending an episode of a TV series. The same words could be applied to the coming days, because the Seraphicum will soon host another weeklong meeting entitled the “Midway” Meeting of the Order. It is an opportunity for the General Definitory to meet with Ministers Provincial, Custodes and Delegates in order to review and discuss the Order’s progress since the 2019 General Chapter, in preparation for the 2025 General Chapter. The first edition of the meeting takes place in January, while the second edition is offered in mid-June—but that’s the subject for another article.
Friar Giovanni VOLTAN, Assistant General for the FIMP Federation