Brazilian Lay Brothers meet for first time

Brazilian Franciscan lay brothers from the various branches of the Family (OFM, OFMConv, OFMCap and TOR) met from September 4-7 at Saint Anthony Seminary in Agudos, São Paulo, to celebrate fraternally and reflect on the lay dimension of our Franciscan vocation. The meeting can be called historic because it is the first such meeting held in Brazil. Eighty friars from fifteen different states participated. The theme for the assembly was: the lay dimension of the Franciscan friar: history, spirituality, perspectives.

The Provincial Minister of Immaculate Conception province, Br. Frei Fidêncio Vanboemmel, was present for the start of the meeting. In the name of the President of Brazilian Conference of Friars Minor he welcomed those present and highlighted the meaning of the gathering. He noted: “We are here to consider exactly what our Franciscan Order was at the time of its origin: a family of brothers given by the Lord.”

The President of the Capuchin Conference of Brazil, Br. Liomar Pereira da Silva, was also present and reminded participants of the importance of having the different branches of the Family present, after more than five hundred years of Franciscan presence in Brazil. He commented: “This helps us look to the future with hope, as the Pope encourages us in this Year of Religious Life”; he reinforced the words of the Capuchin Minister Provincial of the state of São Paulo, who was also present at the opening ceremony.

On the second day the participants, assisted by Br. Sandro Roberto da Costa, OFM and Br. Bruno Scapolan, OFM, reflected on different aspects of history and spirituality from the lay perspective of our charism. The day ended with a panel discussion on the experience of being a Franciscan lay brother, with the participation of a brother from each branch of the Family.

The third day centered on a search for new perspectives in living out the vocation of a Franciscan lay brother. Br. Rubens Nunes da Mota, OFMCap, developed this topic and highlighted the need to develop an approach starting from the fundamental dimensions of our Franciscan charism: prayer, fraternity, minority, mission and formation.

The meeting was organized by representatives of all branches of the Family. It was an opportunity to share experiences through fraternal interaction and in study groups. The challenges expressed in the course of the meeting will be synthesized in a letter to be published after the meeting.

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