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On the 11th and 12th October 2023, at the House of Pilgrims at the Sanctuary of Mount St. Anne in Poland, the General Secretariat for Missions and Evangelization, the General Secretariat for Formation and Studies and the General Office for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, in collaboration with the President of the Conference, br. Alard Maliszewski, and in the presence of the Definitor General responsible for the North Slavic Conference, br. Konrad Cholewa, organized the meeting of all the respective Offices of the Provinces of this Conference.

The meeting began with the celebration of Holy Mass, presided over by the President of the Conference, who read the letter of greeting sent by br. Massimo Fusarelli, Minister General, who wrote, amongst other things: “This moment is very important to take stock of the situation together in the various areas, listening to the positive things that grow amongst you and knowing how to read the weaknesses. All for a more common and co-responsible relaunch in the various fields“.

Before the blessing, the Minister General added: “I hope that the discussion with friars of the General Curia will help you to expand the boundaries of your Conference to those of the entire Order, to be able to feel and walk in communion with all the friars scattered throughout the world“.

At the beginning of the work, the Secretary General for Formation and Studies, br. Darko Tepert, presented the purpose of the meeting and the work of his Secretariat, especially regarding the preparation of the European Meeting of Temporary Professed Friars and the possibilities of collaboration between different Offices within the Conference. The Secretary General for Missions and Evangelization, br. Francisco Gómez Vargas, presented the structure of his Secretariat and the responsibilities of the individual components. In addition, he informed the participants about the point at which we arrived in the preparation of the Ratio evangelizationis of our Order and underlined the importance of the work that the Secretariat carries out with regard to new forms of life and evangelization in Europe. 

The Director of the General Office for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, br. Daniel Rodríguez Blanco, presented the various commitments of his Office, emphasizing that they are the responsibility of all the friars. 

In a brief discussion, the participants reflected on the topics presented. In the afternoon part of the first day, the individual Provincial Secretaries for Formation and Studies and for the Missions and Evangelization, as well as the Provincial Animators for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, presented the work of their offices and Provinces in their respective fields and the challenges they encounter in this work. 

On the second day of the meeting, at the beginning of the day, after Holy Mass presided over by the Definitor General, br. Konrad Cholewa, and after the completion of the presentations of all the Provinces, the President of the Conference, br. Alard stressed that the North Slavic Conference has an important and confirmed role in recent history, which is realized through various meetings and through concrete collaboration in different fields. The decline in the number of friars may represent a challenge, but it is neither the only nor the first motivation for collaboration. The Conference is marked by common history, often not easy. One difficulty is the diversity of languages, cultures and rituals. In conclusion, br. Alard also asked questions concerning different offices; In conclusion, he stressed that the focus must always be on brothers. After a brief discussion, the work continued in three groups: one dedicated to missions and evangelization, one to formation and studies, and one to justice, peace and integrity of creation.

In the afternoon part of the second day of the meeting, the participants continued the discussion in plenum, preparing proposals for the Conference of Ministers Provincial. Finally, in the presence of almost all the Ministers Provincial, proposals were arrived at that aim at improving Interprovincial collaboration at the level of the Conference, collaboration between individual Offices and collaboration with the General Curia. br. Konrad Cholewa, Definitor General, thanked all those who took part in this meeting and stressed the need for exchange of information. He reminded the heads of the various Offices that their role is that of animating the friars of their Provinces, reiterating that the indications given by the General Offices of the Order’s animation start from the mandates and orientations of the last General Chapter. br. Konrad spoke of the Interprovincial houses of initial formation as a form of collaboration at the level of the Conference and encouraged the Provinces to further collaboration, especially in the field of ongoing formation, taking into account the need for good motivation of the friars. Speaking of mission and evangelization, starting from the reality of responsibility for the Parishes and Sanctuaries of the Conference, he stressed the importance of caring for parishes in a Franciscan way, that is, as brothers and in the way of friars minor, according to the documents of our Order. Speaking of activities in the field of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, he reiterated the importance of the formation of friars in this sector, so that they understand its theological and Franciscan meaning, emphasizing the need for help to the marginalized. 

In one of the breaks, the local Fraternity organized a brief visit to the Sanctuary of Mount St. Anne.

Source: ofm.org