São Paulo, 25 January 2023. On the feast of the Conversion of St Paul, Ministers Provincial and Custodes continued the work of the General Assembly of the Union of Latin American Franciscan Conferences (UCLAF).
During the Eucharist celebration, Br Daniel Alejandro Fleitas Zeni, Minister Provincial of the Province of Saint Francis Solanus (Argentina) and President of the Conference of Brazil and the Southern Cone, emphasised how every friar minor is sent to announce the good news of the resurrection of the Lord, sowing his message of hope and life in the provincial fraternities and communities. “The content of the proclamation is clear. It heals wounds and illnesses; the Risen One is new life and a source of joy,” he said, continuing: “What does Paul mean in the Order’s path of evangelisation today and here in Latin America? St Paul took the message of Jesus to the ends of the known world. He never tired of preaching, even when imprisoned in Rome. [St Paul’s words] encourage us, Friars Minor of Latin America, to continue to proclaim hope and the Kingdom, to encourage us to take practical steps of renewal, transformation, and change in favour of a new evangelisation in its forms and methods”.
500 years of Franciscan presence in Mexico
Br Flávio Chávez opened the proceedings in the Saint Damasus Hall by talking about the Franciscan Jubilee in Mexico. In his account of Franciscanism in “New Spain” at the time, the first Franciscan friars to arrive were Br Pedro Melgarejo and Br Diego Altamirano, two military chaplains and not missionaries. The first really structured mission arrived in Mexico on 13 May 1524 with twelve friars led by Br Martín de Valencia, superior of the Spanish Franciscan Province of San Gabriel, who, at the request of the Minister General of the Order carefully chose the so-called “twelve apostles” for the expedition.
Towards a new testimony to our times
Br Francisco Gómez Vargas, General Secretary for Missionary Evangelisation of the OFM, recalled that the 2021 General Chapter mandated the Secretariat to prepare a Ratio Evangelizationis for the Order. It must be “in harmony with the teaching of the Church’s Magisterium and the Order’s documents, through a fundamental process of Conferences and continental areas, based on the work already undertaken by the SGME”.
Formation and Studies
Br Darko Tepert, Secretary General for Formation and Studies, spoke in particular about initial formation in the Order. “Listening is essential for Formation at this time. We must listen to the candidates who express their desire to walk the path of this life with us. We must listen to their life situation, the social climate, and the cultural conditions, which in today’s world are changing rapidly. Listening also involves being open to change,” he added. “If we lack vocations in some areas, perhaps it is because we are no longer living our identity”.
Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation
Br Daniel Nicolás Rodríguez Blanco, head of the General Office for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC), presented the 2022 Annual Report of the Franciscan Network for Migrants of the Americas. Then he explained that the JPIC Office must work to link, develop and support projects on integral ecology, paying special attention to formation in the different contexts of the Order. He also outlined the Order’s upcoming commitments, including participation in WYD in Lisbon together with the Laudato Si’ Movement, while also asking the Pontifical Antonianum University and the Order’s Study Centres to promote formation in integral ecology in different languages and in collaboration with other institutions.
The complete account of the day in Portuguese on the website of the Province of the Immaculate Conception