São Paulo, Brazil. This past April 10, Pope Francis received at the Vatican the four Franciscan General Ministers, Br. Michael Perry OFM, Br. Mauro Jöhri OFM Cap., Br. Marco Tasca OFM Conv. and Br. Nicholas Edward TOR. It was a prophetic gesture.
The General Ministers have promoted various common projects, such as the Franciscan University now taking shape, as well as others on the way, such as fraternities in the Holy Land as well as other places.
This past Christmas, following the example of the General Ministers, We Brazilian friars decided to do something new for the four branches of the Order: we gathered together to send a message speaking of hope and encounter.
Notwithstanding the difficulties of reconciling schedules, it was possible to gather in the parish of the Immaculate Conception of the Capuchin friars, in the center of São Paulo, in front of the nativity scene. The atmosphere could not have been better; the grace of this new encounter has opened new horizons for future shared projects.
The message was given by Br. Fidenzio, Provincial Minister of the OFM, Br. Nestor, Definitor of the OFM Conv., Br. Alain, Provincial Minister of the TOR, and Br. Carlo Silva, Provincial Minister of the OFM Cap. It touched on the simplicity of God, who makes himself a child not among royalty in a palace full of riches and luxury, but among the little ones, on the periphery, where we too will see the Lord, among also the marginalized and the oppressed of our time. The Ministers also recalled the tragic circumstances of millions of refugees and how their stories are known also in that of the family of Nazareth, which had to leave all in order to flee King Herod, the symbol of power.
There have also been other shared Franciscan events, both in Brazil and elsewhere, such as the Chapter of Mats in Aparecida, where about a thousand Franciscans met, the Mass of St. Francis, and the meeting of Franciscan lay brothers.
The representatives of these four branches of the Order concluded their message with their hope that other meetings will be planned for the new year, that new seeds of unity continue to be planted everywhere, as was done in 2017.