Comunicato of the Tempo Forte and Extraordinary Sessions of the General Definitory, September and October 2015

The Minister General and the Definitory met on several occasions during the months of September and October 2015: from 7th – 9th September in the General Curia; from 10th – 13th September in Convento S. Francesco, Maiori, in the Province of Salerno; and again in the General Curia from 14th – 18th September, 28th – 29th September, and 5th – 9th October. The Minister and Definitory, as usual, celebrated the Feast of the Stigmata of St Francis at the Sanctuary of La Verna on 17th September.

Since this was the first full length series of meetings of the new Definitory after the General Chapter, a lot of time was dedicated to planning for the future in the light of what the Chapter had decided. While they were in Maiori, the Minister and Definitory identified their basic theme for the six years as “Brothers and Lesser Ones going towards the peripheries”. This is an echo of the title of the Chapter’s final document. Because the world we live in changes so quickly and because events can quickly overtake us, the Definitory decided to plan not for all six years of their mandate at this stage but only the first two. Thus the focus for 2016 and 2017 will be:

2016: Brothers and Lesser Ones going towards Mercy (in the light of the Year of Mercy and the 800th anniversary of the Pardon of Assisi);
2017: Brothers and Lesser Ones going towards Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation.

In the light of these overall themes, the Definitory set about planning for the implementation of the various Chapter decisions, identifying those responsible and establishing deadlines. A fuller report on each of these will be made later.

Back in Rome, the Definitory turned its attention to the ordinary matters of government. Time was devoted to the preparation of the text of the Letter for the Feast of St Francis which was translated into the official languages of the Order and then published on the website. In the course of its meetings, the Definitory considered a total of 161 files (plichi) dealing with a wide variety of topics coming from the different Entities of the Order. The large number was the result of a build-up in administrative matters over the summer because there had been no Tempo Forte in July. Among the items considered was the ratification of a number of elections:

– Br Santiago Andrade T., as Minister Provincial of the Province of the Most Holy Trinity, in Chile;
– Br Mario Favretto, as Minister Provincial of the Province of St Anthony of Padua, in Italy;
– Br Cielito R. Almazan, as Minister Provincial of the Province of San Pedro Bautista, in the Philippines;
– Br Rodolfo Hernández Medrano, as Minister Provincial of the Province of Saints Francis and James, in Mexico;
– Br James Gannon, as Minister Provincial of the Province of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, USA.

Some new Visitators General were appointed. These included:
– Br Amaral Bernardo Amaral, of the Custody of St Clare, in Mozambique, as Visitator of the Province of the Incarnate Word, in Western Africa.
– Br Dominique Joly, of the Province of Blessed John Duns Scotus, as Visitator for the Custody of the Holy Proto-martyrs of the Order, in Morocco.
– Br Dymitr Žeglin, of the Province of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in Poland, as Visitator for the Province of St Francis of Assisi, also in Poland.
– Br Fabio Berti, of the Province of Saints Peter and Paul (Rome), in Italy, as Visitator for the Province of the Immaculate Conception (Salerno), also in Italy.
– Br Francisco Gearóid Ó Conaire, of the Province of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Central America and Panama, as Visitator for the Province of St Barbara, USA, in place of Br Dominic Monti, who has had to withdraw for health reasons.
– Br Gabriel Ngga, OFM, of the Custody of St. Francis, Herald of Peace, in West Papua, Indonesia, as Visitator for the Province of St. Michael the Archangel, also in Indonesia.
– Br. Gino Correa, OFM, of the Province of Our Lady of Guadalupe, USA, as Visitator of the Province of San Pedro Bautista, in the Philippines.
– Br Guido Santiago Zegarra Ponce, of the Province of the XII Apostles in Peru, as Visitator of the Province of St Francis, in Ecuador.
– Br Jesús Hernández Martín, of the Province of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in Spain, as Assistant General Visitator of the Custody of the Holy Land.
– Br John Gerard Moore, of the Province of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Central America and Panama, as Visitator for the Province of St Francis Solano, in Argentina.
– Br Manuel Saúl Zamorano Soto, of the Province of the Most Holy Trinity, in Chile, as Visitator for the Province of St Francis Solano, in Peru.

The Minister General and Definitory appointed Br Franco Mirri, of the Province of the Sacred Heart of Mary, in Italy (Genoa), as the Director of the Fundraising and Development Office at the General Curia. Br Franco is currently the Vicar Provincial and will take up residence at the Curia in May, when his term of office as Vicar expires.

Another appointment of interest and importance was that of Br Sandro Overend Rigillo, of the Province of St Paul, in Malta, as Guardian of the Fraternity of the General Curia. He will take up his appointment formally on 3rd November, and will be fully in residence when he completes his service as Visitator General of the Province of St Casimir, in Lithuania.

During the sessions, the General Treasurer and his Assistant presented updated reports on the financial situation of the Curia and the implications for its commitments to various Entities and projects. Such regular updates will now be a standard feature of every session of the General Definitory. A similar kind of regular meeting will also take place with the General Secretariat for the Missions and Evangelisation, the General Secretariat for Formation and Studies, and the Office of Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation.

As you will have seen from the website, the sessions of the Definitory in October took place in the context of a week of ongoing formation for the whole fraternity of the Curia. During those days, the Minister and Definitory reflected with the brothers on the final document, on the Chapter decisions, and on the report of the General Visitator. The central part of the week was devoted to a two day workshop dealing with collaboration and communication. All those who participated agreed that the experience was worthwhile.

Finally, the Definitory spent a lot of time reflecting on Decision n. 9 of the General Chapter 2015, concerning the appointment of an International Committee for Economic Affairs composed of experienced friars and professional laypeople. Since the Chapter had indicated a fairly tight time frame within which certain proposals and decisions were to be made, the Definitory decided to name an Ad hoc international commission. This will begin work immediately to be able to make concrete proposals before the end of 2015. The members of the Ad hoc Commission are: Br Julio César Bunader, Vicar General, Br Antonio Scabio, Definitor General, Br John Puodziunas, General Treasurer; Mr. Wilmer Smeenk, and Mr. Les Quick, both highly qualified lay experts coming from the Netherlands and USA.

The next Tempo Forte is due to begin on Monday, 9th November.

22nd October 2015

Aidan McGrath ofm
Secretary General