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      AN OPEN LETTER

      to All the Fraternities of the Order
      From the Friars Gathered at the
      202nd Ordinary General Chapter of 2019

       

      Let us begin, broth?ers, to serve the Lord God,
      for up until now we have done lit?tle or noth?ing!” (1Cel 103: FF 500)

       

      We, the fri?ars called to the 202nd Ordi?nary Gen?er?al Chap?ter, wish to share with you, dear broth?ers, the beau?ti?ful and mean?ing?ful expe?ri?ence we had dur?ing this fra?ter?nal event. We are 130 fri?ars rep?re?sent?ing every coun?try in which the Order is present. Among us there are nine?ty-six vot?ing mem?bers, thir?teen audi?tors and sev?er?al more fri?ars who work in the sec?re?tari?at as trans?la?tors, inter?preters, litur?gi?cal ani?ma?tors, etc. We thank them for their straight?for?ward, hard work and the many indis?pens?able ser?vices they pro?vid?ed.

      On May 18, 2019, we gath?ered at the Sacred Con?vent in Assisi, the hub and birth?place of our Order. The days we spent there, close to the tomb of our Seraph?ic Father St. Fran?cis, were full of pow?er?ful prayer and reflec?tion. We should men?tion in par?tic?u?lar, the retreat led by His Emi?nence, Luis Anto?nio Car?di?nal Tagle and the solemn Mass presided over by the Most Rev?erend Domeni?co Sor?renti?no, Bish?op of Assisi, on the feast of the Ded?i?ca?tion of the Basil?i?ca of St. Fran?cis. More?over, we ded?i?cat?ed prayer to the new saints of our Order who had recent?ly been rec?og?nized by the Church and we par?tic?i?pat?ed in sim?ple moments of per?son?al prayer before the tomb of our father St. Fran?cis.

      Dur?ing those first days, we eval?u?at?ed the pre?vi?ous six-year term. Sev?er?al inter?est?ing reports were deliv?ered in the Chap?ter audi?to?ri?um. The report offered by the for?mer Min?is?ter Gen?er?al, Fri?ar Mar?co Tas?ca, was one that cer?tain?ly caught our atten?tion and gave us pause for reflec?tion. His report also con?tained sec?tions con?tributed by each of the Gen?er?al Defin?i?tors. We salute Fri?ar Mar?co and offer him our sin?cer?est thanks and heart?felt appre?ci?a?tion!

      On May 25, the Capit?u?lars gath?ered with great joy to elect a new Min?is?ter Gen?er?al. After invok?ing the Holy Spir?it, the doors of the Chap?ter audi?to?ri?um were closed and the fri?ars, anx?ious, but filled with faith, went on to elect Fri?ar Car?los Alber?to Trovarel?li as the 120th Min?is?ter Gen?er?al of the Fri?ars Minor Con?ven?tu?al. After his elec?tion, all of the reli?gious at the Sacred Con?vent, the Capit?u?lars, and many oth?er fri?ars, went in pro?ces?sion to the tomb of St. Fran?cis for the oath of the new Min?is?ter Gen?er?al and a moment of intense and fra?ter?nal prayer. For many of us, com?ing from many dif?fer?ent coun?tries and cul?tures, it was a mov?ing expe?ri?ence to be fri?ars togeth?er at the tomb of the Poverel?lo of Assisi, to expe?ri?ence our sense of fam?i?ly and belong?ing to a sin?gle Order. On Mon?day, May 27, we moved on to pre?sen?ta?tions and vot?ing for the elec?tion of the Vic?ar Gen?er?al, the Sec?re?tary Gen?er?al and the sev?en oth?er Gen?er?al Defin?i?tors and Assis?tants Gen?er?al for the indi?vid?ual Fed?er?a?tions.

      With the elec?tion of the Gov?ern?ment of the Order com?plet?ed, our stay in Assisi was over and we moved on to Coll?e?valen?za, to the Casa del Pel?le?gri?no guest cen?ter, next to the Shrine of Mer?ci?ful Love. In this joy?ous and fra?ter?nal set?ting, nes?tled amid the beau?ti?ful Umbri?an hills, we reflect?ed upon and eval?u?at?ed some of the fun?da?men?tal aspects of our life of fra?ter?ni?ty and apos?to?late.

      First, dear fri?ars, let us point out the fruit?ful?ness of our fra?ter?ni?ty. We stud?ied and approved the new Gen?er?al Statutes. We dis?cussed and reflect?ed on Fran?cis?can Dis?ci?ple?ship, the Ratio Stu?dio?rum and oth?er motions, but this was not always easy. Sev?er?al times dur?ing the dis?cus?sions in the Aula, dif?fer?ing view?points would emerge. How?ev?er, by real?ly lis?ten?ing to each oth?er, and engag?ing in thought?ful dia?logue, this diver?si?ty of opin?ion was trans?formed into an oppor?tu?ni?ty for growth and fra?ter?nal uni?ty. We were able to per?son?al?ly expe?ri?ence the joy and beau?ty of fra?ter?ni?ty when, by accla?ma?tion, we erect?ed two new Provinces: Kenya and Indone?sia. The fri?ars in the Chap?ter audi?to?ri?um were over?joyed and applaud?ed for sev?er?al min?utes. The eyes of some fri?ars were shin?ing with emo?tion. Oth?er fri?ars, their voic?es trem?bling and joy?ful, embraced and exchanged con?grat?u?la?tions and best wish?es. The joy and beau?ty of being togeth?er was vis?i?bly expressed in the fes?tiv?i?ties orga?nized by the Kenyan and Indone?sian fri?ars, in the beau?ti?ful pil?grim?ages the fri?ars made to Cor?tona and the Basil?i?ca of Saint Antho?ny of Pad?ua on his feast day. It was expressed in the vis?its the fri?ars made to Arez?zo and Peru?gia. It was won?der?ful to go back to the roots of our Order, to expe?ri?ence the sim?plic?i?ty of accep?tance and the joy of voca?tion.

      Mis?sion is anoth?er top?ic we would like to share with you dear fri?ars around the world. We spent many hours, in the Aula, dur?ing fra?ter?nal moments in the refec?to?ry, in the hall?ways, even in our free time, fur?ther study?ing and dis?cussing how to make a Fran?cis?can dif?fer?ence with our fra?ter?ni?ties as we car?ry out Mis?sio ad Gentes and the New Evan?ge?liza?tion. We tried advanc?ing new pro?pos?als on col?lab?o?ra?tion with the laity and on ecol?o?gy, as well as deal?ing with oth?er issues in the light of the signs of the times. We also turned our atten?tion to youth min?istry, voca?tion?al dis?cern?ment and the ongo?ing crises in reli?gious life. We would be remiss if we did not men?tion — with some sad?ness — the many depar?tures from the Order. All of these issues are chal?lenges we must face. How?ev?er, in these trou?bled times for soci?ety, the Church and our Order, we are cer?tain that our hope in God will nev?er be mis?placed. We must take more care in our for?ma?tion process. We must fos?ter an intense and rad?i?cal spir?i?tu?al life and at the same time be mind?ful of the human per?son. If we do this, we will be blessed and sup?port?ed in liv?ing out our voca?tion as a gift to God and to our broth?ers. We shall over?come or trans?form cri?sis, fatigue or any per?ceived loss of pur?pose.

      As we con?clude this Ordi?nary Gen?er?al Chap?ter, we can say that, despite our dif?fer?ences and dif?fi?cul?ties, we will return to our com?mu?ni?ties feel?ing con?fi?dent. With your help and with the help of the Vir?gin Mary and our dear saints, our blessed and ven?er?a?ble Fran?cis?cans, we shall renew our strength, hope and courage in fol?low?ing Jesus through our Fran?cis?can charism. Thus, God will?ing, we can be signs of reconciliation—friars in har?mo?ny with all of cre?ation, who desire to bring peace to our neigh?bor?ing broth?ers and sis?ters, espe?cial?ly those in pover?ty, liv?ing on the out?skirts of the world.

      As a final point, let us tell you that we have no doubt that this Chap?ter assem?bly was strength?ened by the con?stant and heart?felt prayers which you, true broth?ers in the Lord, raised up on our behalf. For this we thank you! More?over, we are grate?ful for the trust you have placed in us.

      We thank God for all the good he has done for us and to which we tes?ti?fy. We ask the Holy Spir?it to guide the new Gov?ern?ment of the Order as its mem?bers begin their ser?vice to the whole Order. As we con?tin?ue to pray for them, we humbly ask Saint Fran?cis to bless us all:

       

      May the Lord bless you and keep you.
      May He show His face to you and be mer?ci?ful to you.
      May He turn His coun?te?nance to you and give you peace.
      May the Lord bless you…” (FF 262).

       

      Coll?e?valen?za, June 16, 2019

      The Fri?ars of the 202nd Ordi?nary Gen?er?al Chap?ter

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