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At the last Tempo Forte of April 2023, the Minister General, Br. Massimo Fusarelli, OFM, and his Definitory appointed Sr. Mary Frances Wangari Sebastian, of the Congregation Little Sisters of St. Joseph, as a member of the JPIC Animation Committee.

Sister Mary is originally from Tanzania and since 2014 has served as Director of the Franciscan JPIC Office in Africa (JPIC-FA), based in Nairobi, Kenya. She now joins the other members of the Animation Committee, namely Br. Daniel Rodríguez Blanco, Br. Francesco Zecca, Br. Angelito Cortez and Br. Taucen Girsang.

This Committee held its virtual meeting from 23 to 25 May. Sister Mary participated for the first time. In this meeting, which lasted two hours each day, several topics were discussed.

Daniel welcomed Sister Mary and the other members and presented the agenda to be followed. He then gave a summary of the last meeting of the Animation Committee and reported that Fr. Jacek Orzechowski had completed his term as a member of the Animation Committee. The Minister General sent him a letter expressing the appreciation and gratitude of the Order for his work. He then explained JPIC participation in Laudato Si’ Week, the Season of Creation and COP27 (UN Climate Change Conference). Last year, he shared, Br. Angelito participated in COP27 as a delegate of the General Office of JPIC and Franciscans International.

Daniel then explained the presence of the General Office at the World Youth Day, in collaboration with the Laudato Si’ Movement, to be held from 23 July to 7 August 2023 in Lisbon, Portugal. About 45 Franciscan friars from various entities will participate as volunteers, joined by more than 60 volunteers from the Laudato Si’ Movement. All the volunteers, about 110 in total, will stay at the OFM Convent in Lisbon. He also stressed that the International JPIC Course will take place at the Pontifical Antonianum University from 23 to 28 October 2023 with the theme “Culture of Peace” in view of the commemoration of the 800th anniversary of the first crib in Greccio. In fact, a visit to the site is planned on 25 October 2023.

Sr. Mary Frances Wangari Sebastian

On the second day, the members looked for ways to celebrate the Franciscan Centenary with the Franciscan family, especially the celebration of the Canticle of the Creatures in 2025. They also reported on the current situation of the Franciscan Migrant Network of the Americas as well as the Franciscan Network of the Mediterranean and the OIKOS project. The wish to establish the Franciscan Peace Network in Asia was also expressed through contact and communication with the General Definitor of Asia, the presidents of the FAOC and the JPIC Animators of the entities. In addition, they considered ways to build the Franciscan Network in Africa. The issue of continental JPIC meetings in the coming years was talked over.

On the last day, several concrete programs to be carried out in 2023 were discussed in more detail, such as online courses, webinars, season of creation, revision of the statutes, etc. The meeting ended by agreeing on the next face-to-face meeting of the Animation Committee to be held in December 2023.

Br. Taucen Girsang, OFM