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Taking place at the OFM General Curia, the meeting lasted for three days from March 22 to 24, 2023.

This FMN meeting was a form of coordination and cooperation of brothers and sisters working with migrants and refugees, youth and peace-dialogue in the Mediterranean. Coming from different places, the committee members who participated in this meeting were: Br. Daniel Rodriguez Blanco, OFM as director of the JPIC General Office (Rome), Sr. Miriam Oyarzo, FMSC (Istanbul-Turkey); Br. Fabio L’amour, OFM (Marrakech-Morocco); Br. Fausto Yudego, OFM (Spain); Br. Francesco Zecca, OFM (Taranto-Italy); Br. Markus Heinze, OFM (Executive Director of Franciscans International-Geneva-Switzerland); and Mr. Pedro Fernández, OFS (Valencia-Spain).

The FMN in brief

March 22, 2023. The morning session was marked by presentations led by Br. Daniel to familiarize the participants by answering the following questions: what is your name and where do you work, what are your fears and what are your hopes for the future. He also presented the objectives of this meeting.

Then, Br. Ignacio Ceja, OFM, Vicar General of the Order, welcomed all the participants. He argued that serving migrants is an important mission of the Franciscan Order and that it is not a specialization for a few interested friars. Rather, he said, this mission is carried out as a form of concern for the Church so that many parties can be actively involved in it. The morning session concluded by listening to and dialoguing with Father Mattia Ferrari and Luca Casarini who work with the organization Mediterranean Saving Humans, who shared their experience of caring for migrants and refugees in the Mediterranean.

In the afternoon session, some of the participants were asked to share their experiences in the field. The aim was to bring the committee members closer to the current reality in the Mediterranean. The sharing began with Br. Fabio explaining his work in Morocco and continued with Mr. Pedro who works for the legal rights of migrants in Valencia-Spain. Br. John Luke shared his concerns for migrants in Greece and spoke about feeding and helping migrants peculiarly children and youth. After a short break, the participants listened to Sr. Miriam’s testimony about serving with migrants in Istanbul-Turkey. Br. Francesco then explained the OIKOS project in Italy in which he works together with other friars.

From the field experience, it became clear that the reality of ministry with migrants is dynamic because Franciscan brothers and sisters have to face a number of challenges, especially those related to the policies of a country and the laws in force there. Of course, there are other problems in general, such as sickness, hunger, abandonment, alienation, unemployment, undocumented status, violence, etc.

FMN Service Areas

March 23, 2023. After listening to the participants exchange experiences the previous day, the first session began this morning with a presentation by Br. Daniel. He described a historical overview of FMN at the beginning, the meetings that have been held and the agreements made, then the project stopped for a while during the pandemic, and reappearing in the mandate 28 of the OFM General Chapter 2021.

From the meetings that have been held, the FMN focuses on three areas: migrants and refugees, dialogue-peace and youth. What is needed then is how these three areas of ministry are operated on the ground. After a brief dialogue, the participants entered into groups for a more serious and in-depth discussion. The groups were divided according to the themes of migrants and refugees, youth and peace-dialogue.

The afternoon session consisted of a plenary where each group presented its conclusions. Based on these results, the meeting reached a conclusion that will later be converted into agreements. It is expected that the FMN will have a good collaborative system with a common vision of service.

Next FMN Meeting

March 24, 2023. The plenary went on to outline a work path for each of the sections, i.e. migrants and refugees, youth and dialogue-peace.

In the first session the participants conveyed their plans, thoughts, opinions, hopes and so on. All ideas and suggestions were then collected. In the second session, each participant returned to the group and discussed service projects for immigrants and refugees, peace-dialogue and youth. After a short break, the committee members moved to the plenary for the development of one-year work schedule from March 2023 to March 2024.

From the meeting it can be concluded that the FMN rises with a new perspective, a new spirit and a new hope. Because the same network will surely emerge in other continents.


Br. Taucen Girsang, OFM