On January 16-20, 2023, the first round of the Order’s “Midway” Meeting was held at the Seraphicum College in Rome. The meeting took place on the heels of the week-long meeting for the new Ministers Provincial, Custodes and Secretaries (January 9-13), so that some of them could attend both meetings in a single trip.
The purpose of this meeting was to put the General Definitory in dialogue with Ministers Provincial, Custodes and Delegates from all over the world, in order to discuss the status of the Order, evaluate the implementation of the Order’s Six-Year Plan (“Conforming Ourselves to the Gospel to Become a Missionary Fraternity”) and propose some topics for the 2025 General Chapter.
Those attending the meeting included two confreres from the African Federation of Conventual Franciscans (AFCOF), seven from the Centralis Europae Foederatio (CEF), seven from the Conventual Franciscan Federation (CFF), three from the Federation of Asian Minor Conventuals (FAMC), four from the Federatio Europae Mediae et Orientalis (FEMO), nine from the Federazione Inter-mediterranea Ministri Provinciali (FIMP) and two from the Federación América Latina Conventuales (FALC).
The participants were able to prepare themselves for the meeting by working from a multilingual Instrumentum laboris that was sent to them before Christmas. The Instrumentum laboris dealt with a series of topics which the Minister General and various General Definitors took turns presenting during the meeting. The topics included statistics; looking for “sprouts” of new life; noticing signs of vitality and signs of being in “survival mode”; the Franciscan charism and its transmission—based on the primacy of God, fraternity, courage and openness to missionary work; Community discernment as a means of welcoming our future; and creating a financial system that builds Franciscan culture. Sharing and comparing our experiences, using the four languages of the Order, was very enriching and added to the important topics that were discussed.
At the end of the meeting, the assembly was given a summary of the salient topics that had been produced earlier during lively group discussions. This summary, when combined with the summary that will be produced during the second round of the meeting (June 19-23 June 2023), will comprise a list of topics to be discussed at the next General Chapter.
There was a lot of feedback about the week-long meeting spent together. Everyone thought it was an excellent opportunity for fraternity and for learning about and discussing the topics that the Order considers most important for its future. Many thanks to the hospitable fraternity at the Seraphicum, to the friars who translated, and to those behind the scenes who prepared and coordinated the event.
Friar Giovanni VOLTAN, Assistant General for the FIMP Federation