The Indian Chapter of Mats was convened from October 9-14, 2023, at the hallowed Assisi Retreat Centre in Bharananganam, Kerala. This location holds a special place in the hearts of Capuchins, as it was where St. Alphonsa (a Franciscan nun and the first women saint of India) lived and found her eternal rest. The Chapter of mats was attended by Br. Roberto Genuin, the General Minister of the Order, and the General Council.
The event bore witness to the participation of 90 Capuchin friars hailing from various parts of India and the world, focused on the theme, “From Assisi to Sardhana and beyond…: Journey of Capuchins in Minority, Poverty and Fraternity.” In anticipation of the chapter, a special prayer was thoughtfully composed, and a symbolic logo was created. These elements served as beacons of the comprehensive approach to mission within the Indian context and acted as guiding principles throughout the event.
The chapter's discussions encompassed a wide array of crucial topics, including the prevailing political tensions in India, Charism based Franciscan formation, Fraternal collaboration within the conference and the Order at large, Mission and ministry, as well as the economic and administrative aspects of the Order. Each of these topics was well explored with an unwavering focus on the future of the Order. Br. Roberto Genuin, in his role as the General Minister, played a pivotal role in injecting insights and clarity into the issues under consideration. His regular interventions were instrumental in shedding light on the way forward and ensuring that the discussions were both productive and meaningful.
One of the most significant takeaways from the Indian Chapter of Mats 2023 was the profound sense of the Franciscan Capuchin Charism. The event served as a potent reminder of the transformative potential that lies within the Capuchin tradition, capable of catalyzing positive change on a global scale. Every friar present left the Chapter of Mats with a renewed sense of purpose and a heightened commitment to carry forward the rich Capuchin tradition.
Notably, the friars experienced an exceptional degree of hospitality and generosity from the Provincials and fellow friars of the St. Joseph Province. The event was much more than just a gathering; it was a genuine experience of brotherhood. The teamwork of CCMSI members and the meticulous planning of each minute detail by the President, Vice president, and the Secretary along with the General Councilor for India, made this gathering successful and effective, leaving a lasting imprint on each attendee's heart.
In conclusion, the Indian Chapter of Mats 2023 was a graced assembly of Capuchin friars, uniting voices and wisdom from across India and the world. It served as a platform for in-depth discussions on vital issues, all framed by the indomitable spirit of St. Francis of Assisi. The event rekindled the friars' dedication to their sacred mission and demonstrated the strength of unity within the Capuchin Order. It was a profound and memorable experience that will undoubtedly shape the future of the Order in the most positive way.