On April 19-23, 2022, the Centralis Europae Foederatio (CEF) conducted its annual formation meeting for post-novices and postulants, as traditional, during the week following Easter. The meeting coincided with the Assembly of Ministers Provincial, Custodes and Delegates of the CEF Federation. Both meetings were held in Olimje, Slovenia.
One peculiar aspect of these meetings with the post-novices, postulants, formators and Superiors of the CEF Federation was that they were the first such meetings since the beginning of the pandemic. The men in formation attending this meeting included postulants and post-novices from the Province of St. Jerome in Croatia and a deacon from the Province of St. Elizabeth in Germany. The other Jurisdictions of the CEF Federation currently have no men in formation.
The meeting was attended by the Minister Provincial of Croatia, Friar Miljenko HONTIĆ; three post-novices and two postulants from Croatia with their formator, Friar Stjepan BRČINA; the deacon from Germany with his Minister Provincial, Friar Andreas MURK; the Minister Provincial of the Province of St. Joseph in Slovenia, Friar Milan KOS; the Rector of the post-novices from Slovenia, Friar Slavko STERMŠEK; the Custos of the Provincial Custody of St. Leopold and St. Nicolas of Flüe in Austria-Switzerland, Friar Dariusz ZAJĄC; the Provincial Delegate of the Provincial Delegation in Germany of the Province of the Immaculate Mother of God in Poland (Warsaw), Friar Andrzej IWANICKI; the Provincial Delegate of the Provincial Delegation in Germany of the Province of St. Anthony and Bl. James of Strepar in Poland (Cracow), Friar Stanisław ŚLIWIŃSKI; and the Representative of the friars from Romania in Germany. Also present were representatives of the General Curia, namely Friar Igor SALMIČ, Assistant General for the CEF; and Friar Maximilianus SEMBIRING, Vice-Secretary General for Formation.
On Tuesday, April 19, the meeting began with Evening Prayer followed by dinner and a period of fraternal recreation. On Wednesday, April 20, the friars conducted various meetings and worked in groups. The post-novices, postulants, formators and the deacon met with Friar Maximilianus. Friar Maximilianus discussed some points from the new Franciscan Discipleship document. The Minister General with his Definitory will approve the document, ad experimentum, in 2022. The document will be definitively approved at the General Chapter of 2025. While those in formation were meeting, the Ministers Provincial, the Custos and the Delegates met to discuss the current status of their Jurisdictions, and to talk about the future of the Order in Europe.
On Thursday, April 21, members of the CEF government were elected. They are Friar Milan KOS, President; Friar Miljenko HONTIĆ, Vice-President; and Friar Andreas MURK, Secretary. At the same time, the men in formation and their formators, went on an outing near Olimje. Friar Jože STROJIN, a member of the friary in Olimje, took them to the small village of Zagorje, where they visited the Baroque church and the grotto dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes, one of the most important Marian pilgrimage destinations in Slovenia. After lunch and a tour of the friary and the church in Olimje, the participants gathered in the afternoon to meet and continue their work. At that time, the post-novices and formators met with Friar Igor SALMIČ, who discussed the status of the Order, vocations and the Conventual Franciscan identity. At the same time, the Superiors met to discuss formation matters with the Vice-Secretary for Formation.
On Friday, April 22, everyone took part in a community outing to celebrate Mass at the basilica in Ptujska Gora, where our friars serve. The Minister Provincial of Slovenia, Friar Milan Kos, presided. The confreres in Slovenia were very hospitable. After lunch, the participants went to Ptuj, where they visited St. George’s Church, whose construction is a blend of Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque styles. They next visited the Friary of Saints Peter and Paul the Apostles and the Provincial Curia. Friars Milan KOS and Igor SALMIČ gave a presentation on the rich history of both sites. The outing concluded in Ptuj with dinner and Evening Prayer. The friars then returned to Olimje. On Saturday, April 23, immediately after Mass and breakfast, the friars said their goodbyes and departed for their home friaries.
Prayer during this event was offered in different languages, namely, Italian, German, English, Latin, Slovenian and Croatian—depending on who presided over the prayer and Mass that day. The participants were encouraged by daily reflections on the Gospel, prepared by the Assistant General and the Ministers Provincial of Germany, Slovenia and Croatia. Finally, one should mention the wonderful natural surroundings which provided opportunities for the friars to walk in the woods, admire the deer on the neighboring hillside and make some excursions to the mountains.
Grateful to God for all of his gifts, the participants ask that you pray for them.
Friar Erik MATEJAK