India: St Thomas the Apostle Province is Growing

With 160 solemnly professed, 50 temporarily professed friars, and 18 novices, the Order of Friars Minor in India is growing.Today, the friars in India – whose first presence dates back to the 15th century with the Portuguese friars – care for the poorest and the sick, children and orphans, as well as being active in inter-religious dialogue and in raising awareness for a sustainable lifestyle.The local fraternities run several centres: these include a home for people living with HIV/AIDS, a home for children and orphans and several schools, where the Franciscan values of universal brotherhood, peace, justice and care for creation are sown.

For the care of the young friars in formation, an important event took place last month at St Louis Friary, Palamaner, the cradle of the Franciscans in India.FRISM ’22 (Friar Students’ Meet – 2022) gathered 64 friars, including novices, temporarily professed and newly solemnly professed, from 25 to 31 May 2022.

At the centre of the inaugural session were speeches by Br Massimo Fusarelli, Minister General, Br Darko Tepert, Secretary General for Formation and Studies, Br Michael Perry, former Minister General, and addresses in the presence of Br John Wong, Definitor General and Br Noel Muscat, Visitator General, and Br Praveen D’ Souza, Minister Provincial.Br Massimo invited the young friars to offer themselves for missions worldwide.Br Darko reminded the young men: “The Franciscan vocation is not a property, but a gift from God”.

On the sidelines of FRISM ’22, the General Meeting of Formators was also held, which became an opportune time for the formators to interact with and listen to the student friars.During the session, the formators and young friars exchanged the joys and difficulties of formation and the expectations of the formation programme.

The indoor games (table tennis and carrom) and outdoor games (basketball and volleyball) in the afternoon and the fun of the evening activities brought much joy and laughter to the friars’ faces.

The friars also witnessed the entrance of 9 novices, the simple profession of 16 friars and the renewal of vows of 31 student friars.

Returning to the convent of St Louis, at the Palamaner campus, where all the student friars spend a year as novices, was like going back to the origins of their Franciscan vocation.FRISM ’22 ended with the celebration of first profession on 31 May 2022.

First, of its kind, FRISM created a wonderful platform for interaction and inspiration among the friars themselves, which the students appreciated.For many, it was an experience of joy, fervour, brotherhood and fullness of life.