The Franciscan Friars in Assisi Coordination Group came into being with Pope Francis’ visit to Assisi on October 4, 2013. At the end of his visit to the Tomb, the Pope turned to the Ministers General and other friars present and said: “Good, you should stay united.” The Pope’s invitation connected with our already strong desire to “walk together and grow in common vocation and mission.”
Franciscan Friars in Chapter was jointly created to prepare for and re-experience the centuries-old events that led to the Pardon of Assisi (celebrating its 800th Anniversary in 2016) and the Papal Bull “Ite vos” (celebrating its 500th Anniversary in 2017), with the goal of planning an even more significant future together.
This initiative was accepted and disseminated by the four Ministers General of the Order. It is being proposed simply as a possible pilot experience for friars who might want to organize similar courses around the world.
At our meeting on June 30, 2015, we updated the Ministers Provincial and those who work closest with them, on encouraging Provincial fraternity as we travel the path toward the 2017 “Generalissimo Chapter”. We also shared ideas and intentions, in view of a Plenary Assembly of all the Franciscan fraternities in the region of Umbria, Italy.
We are now at point where we hope everyone is convinced that an authentic and profound reconciliation between the Franciscan families will let us more powerfully and clearly give witness to the charism of Francis and Clare.
Continued meetings, dialogue and prayer between all of the Friars Minor will yield the fruit of peace and evangelization. By taking this path, we hope create space for prophetic prospects and initiatives that can specifically be developed into one (or more) “missionary” realities which can be lived in communion.
The material that we provide for this meeting consists of:
- The text A Path for Walking Together and Growing in Common Vocation and Franciscan Mission (2015/2018). These are the guidelines for 2015-2018, set forth by the Franciscan Friars in Assisi Coordination Group. Its ultimate goal is increased creative fidelity to the charism together with a more powerful and affirming way of giving witness.
- The text of Ite vos. Since it is not believed to have ever been translated into Italian, we think we have done a commendable cultural service. Our warmest thanks go to Friars Bruno Pennacchini and Umberto Occhialini from the St. Mary of the Angels community, for undertaking the not so enjoyable task of translating the text from Latin.
- A historical study entitled Retracing the Events of ITE VOS. Hopes Dashed by the BULLA UNIONIS, written by Friar Luigi Pellegrini, OFM Cap. We asked Friar Luigi to give us a summary of the events which played a role in the Order’s situation in 1517 and their consequences; whether they are recognized as factors of success or failure.
- A theological study entitled The Essential Elements of the Theology of Vita Consecrata Today for a Re-reading of History, written by Friar Alceo Grazioli, TOR. This is the summary of a joint effort started by a group of theologians: the Most Reverend Paolo Martinelli, Auxiliary Bishop of Milan; Sr. Simona Paolini, FMGB; Friar Domenico Paoletti, OFM Conv.; and Friar Giancarlo Rosati, OFM. We asked this committee to show us the essential elements of the theology of Vita Consecrata today, beginning with the vision of Vatican II, of which we are all children. It is through these qualifiers that we want to look and interpret the facts of the past.
- These two studies are followed by a guide sheet for group discussion. It indicates the areas of discussion we will confine ourselves to in order to keep debate focused on the two historical and theological essays.
- Another essay included in the folder is an article by Fr. Luciano Bertazzo, OFM Conv., called: For the Vocation and Mission of the Franciscan Friars in the Church and in the Contemporary World: An Inhabited Memory. Friar Luciano prepared the article as a summary of a joint effort started by a group of historians: Friar Luigi Pellegrini, OFM Cap., Friar Giuseppe Buffon, OFM, and Fr. Mario Sensi. It offers a useful avenue for interpreting the facts of the past from a theological perspective, for understanding their meaning in our lives, their role in the development of our charism and the possible paths we might take. In fact, as we have indicated in the subtitle of our assembly: An inhabited memory for walking together towards the future.
- Based on that essay, we ultimately decided to offer Guidelines for a Common Path. We want to initiate a process of reconciliation between us. With suitable preparation, we will testify to our fraternal love on July 11, 2016, five-hundred years after the publication of the papal brief Romanum Pontificem (July 11, 1517). We have selected three moments that local Franciscan communities from the same ministerial territory can share together over one or more days: The Three Stages of the Memory.
We thank all the Franciscan friars of Umbria for the attention you will be giving to this itinerary. Special thanks to the members of the two committees who have been working on this for quite some time.
United in prayer and in our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi, we send you our affectionate fraternal regards, reminding you that our next meeting will be on July 11, 2016, for the day of reconciliation between us and the testimony of our fraternal love.
Friar Antonio M. Tofanelli, OFM Cap.
on behalf of the Franciscan Friars in Assisi Coordination Group
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