On November 7-16, and again, on November 24 to December 14, 2019, Friar Giovanni VOLTAN, the Assistant General for the Federazione Inter-mediterranea Ministri Provinciali (FIMP) conducted a general canonical visitation, in two stages, to the Province of Our Lady of Montserrat in Spain. In the spring of 2020, the Province will be celebrating its Ordinary Provincial Chapter. The first part of the Chapter is scheduled for May 4-8, 2020.
Friar Giovanni visited the following friaries in chronological order: the Friaries of Nuestra Señora del Rosario and the San Buenaventura Friary in Madrid, and the friaries in Tarancón, Granollers, Barcelona, Zaragoza, Pamplona, Seville, Palencia and Valladolid. Friar Giovanni also met with the three friars who serve the Order in Rome, Friars Valentín REDONDO FUENTES, Benjamín MIEDES REMÓN, and Juan Miguel VICENTE VALTUEÑA. He also met with Friar Joaquín Ángel AGESTA CUEVAS, who belongs to the community in Pamplona and is currently taking a sabbatical year in Lourdes.
At present the Province has sixty-two friars. This includes two friars from Romania who are affiliated ad tempus, a friar from the Province of Cracow who is under contract, and three temporarily professed friars. In 1978, the Province opened a mission in Colombia which is now the Provincial Custody of Saint Francis of Assisi. The average age of the friars in the Province is sixty-five, taking into account the temporarily professed. Without them, the average age is about sixty-seven.
In 1904, the Friars Minor Conventual were able to return to Spain after a 337-year absence. In 1567, King Philip II had expelled around a thousand friars. The friars’ return was made possible thanks to the tenacity of some Spanish friars who had been formed in Italy. After a brief presence in Teruel (Aragon), the friary of rebirth was established in Granollers (Catalonia), During the terrible period of the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), six friars in Granollers were martyred. They were beatified in 2001 by Pope St. John Paul II and are known as Friar Dionisio and Companion Martyrs.
The friars of the Province mainly carry out pastoral ministry in parishes. Of the churches they serve, only two, those in Tarancón and Barcelona, are Conventual churches. They also teach at three popular and respected colleges located in Tarancón, Valladolid and the largest, San Buenaventura in Madrid. In addition, the Province has created two communities which have set up a particular plan of life. Under this plan, the friars make concrete choices and adopt practices which best express the Franciscan charism. One of the communities has been operating in Granollers since 2012. The other, Nuestra Señora del Rosario, in Madrid, also serves as a Formation House. It currently houses three temporarily professed friars and one postulant.
The Assistant General was given a warm and fraternal welcome everywhere he went. At the end of his canonical visitation he met with the Minister Provincial, Friar Ángel Mariano GUZMÁN LUDEÑA, along with his Definitory, Friars Juan Antonio ADÁNEZ SILVÁN, Vicar; Miguel Ángel MARCOS MARCOS, Secretary; Antonio ROYO TOMÁS and Juan Luis CORMENZANA CARPIO, Definitors).
During the usual “Cursillo de Navidad” which the Province annually conducts on December 26-28, Friar François BUSTILLO, the Guardian of the friary in Lourdes, France, will put forward some Franciscan ideas in view of the upcoming Chapter. He will be drawing upon the work carried out by the communities on the words of Pope Francis during the 2019 Ordinary General Chapter.
Friar Giovanni VOLTAN, Assistant General for the FIMP