19 Oct General Definitory Meets with ESC in Albuquerque, USA
The Minister General and his Definitory met with the English-Speaking Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and St. Michael’s, Arizona, from October 10th to 15th last, with Br. Jack Clark Robinson, OFM, Provincial Minister of the Province of Our Lady of Guadalupe acting as the host of the meeting.
The ESC is an international Conference including among its members friars from the United States, Canada, Lithuania, Malta, Great Britain, and Ireland. The presence of the General Definitory added to the number of nations represented, and the multicultural aspect of the meeting was even further enhanced by the involvement of the Hispanic and Native American communities of the area, both friars and people.
The business sessions in St. Michael’s Mission, on the territory of the Navajo Nation, were held in the evocative setting of a round semi-subterranean Native American prayer space, called a Hogan. There Br. Kevin Mullen (President) and the ESC Provincials spoke about the many challenges that the Church and Religious Life face in Europe and North America, but they were also keen to describe the extraordinary institutions, the wonderful traditions, and the creativity and new initiatives present in the entities of the Conference on both sides of the Atlantic.
For most of the friars, the highlights of the encounter were the opportunities to meet with the people among whom the friars of the Province of Our Lady of Guadalupe live and minister. An Inquentro with the Hispanic parishioners at Holy Family Parish, Albuquerque, showed the extraordinary spirit and vitality of that community. The local Hispanic friars are justly proud of the energy that they and their parishioners bring to the local Church. As the friars travelled on from Albuquerque, the Native American Pueblo and Navajo people welcomed the friars, as they have done for centuries, and spoke with an intense appreciation of the deep spiritual riches of their own culture and traditions, as well as their sense of being blessed by their Catholic faith.
The Minister General took the opportunity of this visit to acknowledge and apologize for any insensitivity, lack of respect, or hurt that the Friars Minor may have caused these peoples. This apology was graciously accepted, and the generous offering of pardon that was expressed by the Native American leaders was a deeply emotional and spiritual experience in Laguna, Ácoma, and St. Michael’s. A further chance to share the music, spirituality, and hospitality of the Navajo people came during the celebration of the Sunday Eucharist in Fort Defiance, and the meal with Mass-goers that followed.
The beauty of the desert, with its mountains and canyons, was also an unforgettable experience. The Canyon de Chelly hike will live long in the memory, as will Chinle, Window Rock, and the many other places to which the friars of the Province of Our Lady of Guadalupe introduced their guests with unfailing good humor and generosity. Br. Jack and his brothers showed their visitors that the cultural reality of the U.S.A. is far, far richer than the urban movie scenes we are so accustomed to!