Ite Vos and a Shared Franciscan Charism: An Inter-Franciscan Gathering in the USA

Over 100 friars from the three branches of the Franciscan first order converged in a spirit of fraternity and joy at the Catholic Theological Union (Chicago, USA) on Nov. 4, 2017, to attend “Looking to the Future Together: Beyond Ite Vos.”

This Franciscan Study Day was convened at the behest of the ESC after Pope Francis urged friars to work together for an “authentic and profound reconciliation” of the three branches of the first order in the hopes that such unity would renew the power of the spirit of Francis and Clare in the modern world. The day was organized by Friars Joseph Rozansky OFM, Michael Kolodziej OFM Conv. and John Celichowski OFM Cap.

After a powerful prayer service developed by friars in formation, Friar Dominic Monti OFM began the session with “The History and Context of Ite Vos,” placing the papal bull, which formally divided the First Order into the first two separate obediences, into its historical and cultural context. In doing so, he brought to light the common values of fraternity, minority, conversion, and mission that the branches share.

This set the stage for “Common Franciscan Values,” during which Friar Regis Armstrong OFM Cap., highlighted the ways in which St. Francis of Assisi was open to the revelation of the Lord when dealing with his brothers. Regis also commented on Francis’s use of John 17:11 (“may they be one, as we are one”) in the Early Documents.

Friar Jude Winkler OFM Conv. rounded out the morning with “Common Franciscan Projects,” by raising up some of the interobediential work that is already being done in the order, including Franciscans International, the Franciscan Action Network, the consolidation of the Antonionum and Seraphicum in Rome, interobediential intentional communities, and coordinated formation programs in places like California and Zambia.

In describing the bridge building being done by the Ministers General and their councils in Rome, Jude pointed out that “sometimes more work gets done over the picnic table than at the conference table.”

This proved to be the case in Chicago as well. During the breaks, lunch, and the small group discussions in the afternoon, the friars from the three branches ate, got to know one another, and brought to life the common fraternity they already share. In addition to sparking some ideas about how the three branches might work together—many involved social media and even more involved food—these informal times and sessions were clear indicators of the shared spirit of Gospel joy that burns in the hearts of the brothers, no matter what branch.


While working on the Early Documents, Regis Armstrong came to the realization that what the text taught him about the Franciscan charism was being lived out in the experience of working on the texts in an interobediential team. This was also the case during the Ite Vos study day. In learning and discussing that which divided us, we wound up celebrating that which unites us and put ourselves on the path of even greater unity.


This post was first published on by John Aherne, OFM.  For the complete text in English, click here.