On January 9-11, 2019, the Conventual Franciscan Province of the Franciscan Protomartyrs in Zambia held a meeting for pastors. The meeting took place at the Franciscan Center in Ndola, Zambia.

Fifteen of the Province’s twenty pastors attended. The theme of this year’s meeting was: “Celebrating Parish Ministry in the Province.”
In his opening remarks, the Minister Provincial reminded the friar-pastors that wherever they worked, caring for the souls of the faithful, they should always remember that they are representatives of the Province and ambassadors of the Order as a whole. Therefore, because of their roles as pastoral ministers in the Province and their work in collaboration with the various dioceses, it was altogether fitting and necessary that the meeting offer them with a concrete, convincing and practical way to celebrate liturgies, and better consolidate the already existing relationship between the Parish and the Province, and between the Parish and the Diocese. He further reminded them that their office was about sanctifying, teaching and governing the “Christefidelis” in the name of the Church. The Minister Provincial humbly acknowledged what the parishes have been doing for our Province: hosting and supporting professions and ordinations and making contributions to the Provincial administration. He acknowledged how some lay organizations are making substantial contributions to our formation houses. He reminded the pastors of the big responsibility they bear as ordained ministers in the Church. He pointed out that they were friars as much as they were priests. As friars, they should always be mindful of their basic vocation and remember that they were friars before they became pastors. What matters most is their Franciscan charism and identity. Although their roles and duties outside Franciscan life may change, they will remain Conventual Franciscan friars. Therefore, all the apostolates and ministries in our Province, and in the dioceses, should be animated by the firm conviction that we are Conventual Franciscan friars; otherwise, we risk watering down everything we do. The Minister Provincial then asked them: What was their primary contribution as friars to the Dioceses where they do pastoral ministry? Their concrete and practical contribution should be to promote the Conventual Franciscan charism, to be true Conventual Franciscans and not compromise their identity. By upholding our charism and identity with conviction, they make their pastoral ministry as Conventual Franciscan friars meaningful and enrich the dioceses where they work.
The pastors were then reminded to find a balance between their participation at the diocesan level and the Provincial level. They were asked take fraternal interest the needs of other friars. Therefore, as the meeting progressed, they were asked to review their Franciscan way of life in order to foster a spirit of coordination and collaboration and thereby establish common goals for the betterment of the Province.
On Friday, January 11, as the Pastor’s Meeting concluded, the Minister Provincial encouraged each pastor to use his office as a tool for his own on-going formation. He encouraged the pastors to get acquainted with the documents of the Church and the Order. He encouraged them to wear the Conventual Franciscan habit at all settings of pastoral ministry, including diocesan events. He exhorted them to pray always, without ceasing, so that their ministry might be fruitful. Praying would help them carry out all aspects of their pastoral ministry with consistency and joy. He further exhorted them to take the lead in promoting ongoing formation for the faithful within their parish communities. Lastly, in the name of the Province, the Order and the Church, the Minister Provincial thanked all of the pastors for everything they do. He told them to remind people wherever they go, that they are brothers.

Friar Mathews Kasongo, OFM Conv., Provincial Secretary