LETTER OF THE 7 RELIGIOUS BROTHERS
members of the Ordinary general chapter 2019
As rep?re?sen?ta?tives of our fri?ar broth?ers from sev?en Con?fer?ences / Fed?er?a?tions of the Order, present at the 202th Gen?er?al Chap?ter, we would like to express our grat?i?tude and appre?ci?a?tion for the desire to uphold broth?er?hood, which is foun?da?tion?al to our com?mu?ni?ty, “The Lord gave me broth?ers…” and you broth?ers gave us full active and pas?sive voice.
We are all aware of the injus?tices that have been part of our 800 years and still the lack of under?stand?ing in regard to the brother’s voca?tion in our Order. His?to?ry tells us that in most cas?es the role of a reli?gious broth?er was one of “hum?ble ser?vice”. At times very dif?fi?cult hard man?u?al work towards the ser?vice of the com?mu?ni?ty, or for a broth?er-priest. It has been the role of liv?ing an unhealthy minori?tas sup?port?ed and aid?ed by the men?tal?i?ty of fri?ars in gen?er?al, dioce?san cler?gy and laity. A dis?as?so?ci?a?tion still needs to occur, as many are too quick to cat?e?go?rize a reli?gious broth?er as some?one who is not very intel?li?gent, often une?d?u?cat?ed, inca?pable of high?er goals. With?in each of our fed?er?a?tions we have broth?ers who are quite capa?ble of doing more than just becom?ing a free labor in a habit.
The frame?work of a reli?gious broth?er is slow?ly chang?ing but also as we have heard, it is quick?ly fad?ing. We heard this in the Chap?ter Hall, the voca?tion of the broth?er?hood is dimin?ish?ing. Will we dare to repeat this awful con?fir?ma?tion in our fed?er?a?tions? Will we seek to find path?ways of pro?mot?ing and sup?port?ing our broth?ers? There are sparks of hope through each of our fed?er?a?tions where a broth?er and his tal?ents are being upheld for the good of the com?mu?ni?ty. The bias is mirac?u?lous?ly ignored in some provinces and we are being entrust?ed with roles, such as guardians, direc?tor of novices and for?ma?tion hous?es. How?ev?er, these are excep?tions, excep?tions that have upheld our broth?er?hood rather than shame?ful and inap?plic?a?ble rules that mis?un?der?stand who we are called to be as Con?ven?tu?al Fran?cis?cans.
The doc?u?ment issued by the Con?gre?ga?tion of Insti?tutes of Con?se?crat?ed Life and Asso?ci?a?tion of Apos?tolic Life of 2015, enti?tled “Iden?ti?ty and Mis?sion of a Reli?gious Broth?er in the Church” is a hope?ful doc?u?ment that can?not be dis?missed. A doc?u?ment that offers a renewed and ancient way of liv?ing out our broth?er?hood. A broth?er?hood that per?haps Saint Fran?cis and his ear?ly broth?ers lived. It seems, how?ev?er, that after four years this doc?u?ment is dead with?in out Order and is in need to be res?ur?rect?ed with deep?er reflec?tion, in order to make room for the Spir?it to guide us through its con?crete guide?lines and indi?ca?tions. In most juris?dic?tions, copies of the doc?u?ment were dis?trib?uted only to reli?gious broth?ers for read?ing, in oth?er places a sym?po?sium was orga?nized for broth?ers on this theme, as if the fri?ar priests should not be con?cerned with this top?ic. We invite you to read this doc?u?ment and to invite all of our fri?ars to read about the mis?sion of the broth?er?hood.
Our pres?ence at the Chap?ter, as well as the approved motion, giv?ing the Min?is?ter Gen?er?al the oppor?tu?ni?ty to invite rep?re?sen?ta?tives of reli?gious broth?ers to the next Gen?er?al Chap?ters, is an even greater spark of hope. We are aware, how?ev?er, that all of us need to work on the change of men?tal?i?ty, a change of heart, start?ing from our own under?stand?ing of the broth?er?hood with?in our own provinces and then look beyond provin?cial?ism to see how our broth?er?hood is being lived start?ing from the very top. From the Gen?er?al Min?is?ter to the “sim?ple” broth?er, who just smiles at a degrad?ing com?ment.
With?in all of our min?istries and par?tic?u?lar?ly in youth min?istry and voca?tion?al min?istry, we must pro?mote our way of life. The life of com?mu?ni?ty where we live our Con?ven?tu?al fra?ter?nal life, where every?one in the com?mu?ni?ty is equal, liv?ing the same rule, the same vows, hav?ing the same rights and duties in the com?mu?ni?ty, except of course those giv?en by ordi?na?tion. It is nec?es?sary to show the dig?ni?ty of the brother’s voca?tion and to adopt the same cri?te?ria in the whole Order when admit?ting can?di?dates to the for?ma?tion and only in rare and jus?ti?fied cas?es accept can?di?dates with?out sec?ondary edu?ca?tion (a high school diplo?ma).
Intel?lec?tu?al devel?op?ment oppor?tu?ni?ties giv?en to cler?ics with?in our Order should also be oppor?tu?ni?ties giv?en to broth?ers at all stages of ini?tial and ongo?ing for?ma?tion to the point that we should not be sur?prised when a reli?gious broth?er is a guardian, defin?i?tor, cat?e?chist, pro?fes?sor of the?ol?o?gy or sci?ence.
This let?ter is not meant to be an oppor?tu?ni?ty to com?plain or accuse any?one but is meant to bring about moti?va?tion to con?tin?ue to renew our?selves and our broth?er?hood, so that we do not become com?pli?ant by not tak?ing notice of the efforts still need?ed through?out the Order in this mat?ter. May this be moti?va?tion and encour?age?ment for a real reflec?tion on the above top?ic in the whole Order and on all its lev?els.
Your broth?ers, (in alpha?bet?i?cal order)
CHOI fr. Alexan?der (Young Seon), (Prov. COREAE – FAMC)
HORVAT fr. Robert, (Prov. SLOVENIAE – CEF)
KOZIELSKI fr. Robert, (Prov. POLONIAE-S.MAX. KOLBE – FEMO)
MARDESIC fr. Jack, (Cust. Prov. GALLIAE – FIMP)
NTUMBILA fr. Joseph Bwalya, (Prov. ZAMBIAE – AFCOF)
PEREIRA XAVIER fr. Rogério, (Prov. BR-S. FRANCISCI – FALC)
SCHENK fr. Joseph Stu?art, (Prov. USA S. BONAVENTURAE – CFF)