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Br. Fausto Yudego, OFM and Br. Daniel Rodriguez Blanco, OFM, the members of the Franciscan Network of the Mediterranean, already visited Marseille in France from June 17-20, 2023, to meet with both the Franciscan fraternity and the local Church from the city.

In the past, in 2020, the Italian Bishops’ Conference has convened a meeting in Bari where the various dioceses that share the Mediterranean region. Then, in 2022, the second meeting was held in Florence. At that time, it was agreed that for the third meeting Marseille will be the host and will take place on 17-24 September 2023. The theme chosen would be The Mediterranean Mosaic of Hope.

These meetings are inspired by the journeys of Pope Francis who has made to various Mediterranean cities such as Lampedusa, Tirana, Sarajevo, Cairo, Jerusalem, Cyprus, Rabat, Malta, etc. In his visits, the Pope has brought a message of hope and insisted on not making the sea as a place of death but of encounter, dialogue and mutual welcome.

Meeting with the local Church

On Monday, June 19, Br. Fausto and Br. Daniel were received by Br. Xavier Manzano, Vicar General of the Diocese and responsible for the preparation of the III Mediterranean Meeting at the Archdiocesan Curia of Marseille.

P. Xavier shared the objective of the meeting and some of the activities that will take place throughout the week in different parts of the city. Also, Pope Francis is scheduled to visit the city on Saturday, September 23, where he will hold meetings with the participating bishops, civil authorities and the young participants.

The Franciscan Fraternity in Marseille

In 2008, at the invitation of the Archbishop of Marseille, the Franciscan Province of France created a fraternity in the parish church of the Holy Trinity, located at 35 Avenue Palaud. The neighborhood where the parish is located is composed mostly of African migrants, especially of Muslim tradition. Since then, the Franciscan friars have been carrying out various projects of accompaniment.

From Tuesday to Sunday, the friars offer a service of dialogue and listening to anyone who needs it in the parish. Most of the faithful who frequent coming to the parish are migrants. The people who participate in the one Sunday Eucharist come from at least twenty-two nationalities. The fraternity collaborates with other churches and parishes in the city for the celebration of sacraments.

Likewise, they organize important ecumenical activities at certain times of the year, such as Christmas. It is worth mentioning that the friars make an interesting accompaniment to the gypsies of the region through visits to the families and the sick.

Regarding to the work with migrants and refugees, the fraternity house is open to receive migrants in coordination with the Jesuit Service. On Sundays after mass, the Abraham group, composed mostly of migrant women, meets for dialogue and shares for lunch.

The friars also serve the Secular Franciscan Order and the Poor Clare Sisters. Internally, the friars take care of the kitchen and domestic chores and, given the proximity of the houses, they seek to generate good relations with the neighbors through various initiatives. At this moment the fraternity is made up of five brothers, namely Br. Didier VAN HECKE, Br. Alain PAGET, Br. Jean Charles RAKOTONDRANAIVO, Br. Patrick SHAM and Br. Florent NIBEL.

Undoubtedly, the Third Mediterranean meeting in Marseilles will be a moment of the spirit to make ecclesial decisions in the face of the challenges of the Mediterranean. There is a Franciscan fraternity that gives witness with concrete answers. The Franciscan Network of the Mediterranean will be present.

Br. Daniel Rodríguez Blanco, OFM