Meeting of the Major Superiors of Western Europe and the Mediterranean Region
From March 13 to 14, 2022, the Ministers of Western Europe and the Mediterranean region met at the General Curia to address the current status of our Order in the “Old Continent”. The meeting followed up on the General Minister’s letter at the beginning of the sexennium in which he laid out some objectives for Europe. Due to Covid, there hasn’t been a chance to meet for about two years, but the topic was relaunched in a November 2020 letter from the General Minister, and was later followed up with a meeting in Częstochowa, Poland in October of 2021. After this gathering, the General Minister desired that all the Major Superiors of this area come together and follow up (there were 26 provincial ministers, 2 custodes and 3 delegates representing a total of 31 circumscriptions). There were three themes covered on the agenda: the reorganization of the European Conferences (with specific attention to Western Europe); the formation houses in this area which are jointly utilized by the circumscriptions; and a reimagining of the circumscriptions around the Mediterranean basin.
The reasons behind the rethinking of the Order’s structure in Europe may be many, but the problem of the decline in numbers certainly stands out, which seems to be unmitigable and might even accelerate well into the coming years. A simple fact is extremely significant: in this entire area, among the current formation programs, there are only 12 novices, of which 6 are in Italy and 6 in Poland.
The General Minister introduced themes of particular focus on which the Ministers present were able to share their thoughts. It will be the task of the General Council to subsequently draw their conclusions and arrive at some plan of action.
For such a large number of participants, the choice of the Curia as a meeting place was somewhat less than optimal and posed some logistical difficulties. This was all due to the continual scheduling and rescheduling because of the Covid pandemic. But despite such obstacles, there was a healthy atmosphere of unanimous participation, and the fraternity of the Curia was happy to welcome again a large assembly of friars from many countries after more than two years; it was a small sign of encouragement for the brothers of the Curia who recently have had to work with brothers of the Order mainly from their offices by way of online communications. The meeting ended with a prayer for peace.
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