02 Aug Moving from the celebration of the PCO to the production of the Final Document
Letter from the Minister General and the Definitory to all the friars:
Moving from the celebration of the PCO to the production of the Final Document
May the Lord give you peace!
The 2018 Plenary Council of the Order, held from June 12thto 28thin Nairobi, Kenya, was a grace-filled time during which the Spirit spoke to the hearts of the participants, calling us to return to our first love(cf. Rev 2:4) — in other words, to renew and revitalize our lives in the midst of a constantly changing world. We kept in mind the substance of Art. 194 of our General Constitutions, which deals with the competence of the Plenary Council, as well as the PCO theme, “Those who have ears, let them listen to what the Spirit is saying … to the Friars Minor today”. (cf. Rev 2:29.
The first stage of our meeting consisted in active listening to the reports presented by the various Conferences, as well as to the contributions of two invited experts.
In the second stage, the Council Members then brought what they had heard to a process of prayer, discernment, and dialogue in order to deepen their receptivity to the voice of God. Out of this, a number of insights emerged in regard to: the constant, core values of our life; our priorities; some of the unavoidable challenges that we must face; the many opportunities to reaffirm our identity and to live our faith more fully.
During the third stage of the PCO, a number of elements emerged from this dual dynamic of listening and discernment, including proposals for the life and mission of the Order. These not only point to the hope that guides us in the midst of so many challenges, but they also are concrete responses to the Spirit who urges us to go out to the peripheries, to the places where people are most in need.
The entire PCO experience, and in particular the proposals that have surfaced — a) Contemplative Fraternity in mission; b) The Young; c) A rapidly changing world; d) Evangelization in the spirit of Laudato si’; e) Migrants and refugees; f) Instruments of peace in the face of contemporary violence; g) Religious life and the vision of Pope Francis — will be taken into consideration by the General Definitory as we prepare the Final PCO Document, to be published in the coming months.
At the conclusion of the Plenary Council, we noted that immediately on our return to Rome the General Definitory would undertake the work of reviewing all the reports of the Conferences as well as the wealth of material produced during the Council. This review has already been completed and we feel that the collected material is so rich that in addition to the final Document we will also make available to all the friars a summary of the most important issues that arose during the three-stage process — both in the group work and plenary sessions.
The Final Document will be published before the end of the year and will be produced with the help of experts in theology and the Franciscan tradition. It will also contain guidelines for the triennium (2019-2021), some of which will lead us towards the 2021 General Chapter.
All the friars who participated in the Council are asked to remember the final message of the Minister General, in which he asked us to be ambassadors — to take what we have experienced and to share it with our Conferences: with the President, the Provincial Ministers, Custodes, and Foundation Presidents. He asked that this be done during the next Conference meeting, or if there is no immediate plan for such a meeting, to prepare a written statement which would describe the experience of the Plenary Council, the process and methodology employed, the ‘outcomes’ of the World Café method, and the final summary presented in the plenary sessions. In their turn, the Provincial Ministers, Custodes, and Foundation Presidents (working with the Council Members) should then ensure that this wealth of material reaches all the friars, so that an in-depth dialogue at all levels of the Order may result.
Dear brothers, we invite you to respond to this moment of grace that the Lord has given to us as an Order. We remind you that we cannot simply continue doing the same things that we do at present — as if the old wineskins could hold the new wine (cf. Mt 9:17). Let us open ourselves with hope and courage to the newness of the Spirit who calls us to live our vocation with renewed enthusiasm and creativity, so as to be able to offer the wine of the Gospel to the sisters and brothers of our time.
May Mary Immaculate, the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, the Virgin made Church, the Herald of the Gospel, always sustain us with her maternal intercession.
Br. Michael A. Perry, ofm
Br. Julio C. Bunader, ofm
Br. Jürgen Neitzert, ofm (Def. Gen.)
Br. Caoimhín Ó Laoide, ofm (Def. Gen.)
Br. Ignacio Ceja Jiménez, ofm (Def. Gen.)
Br. Nicodème Kibuzehose, ofm (Def. Gen.)
Br. Lino Gregorio Redoblado, ofm (Def. Gen.)
Br. Ivan Sesar, ofm (Def. Gen.)
Br. Valmir Ramos, ofm (Def. Gen.)
Br. Antonio Scabio, ofm (Def. Gen.)
Br. Giovanni Rinaldi, ofm (Seg. Gen.)
Rome, August 2nd, 2018
Feast of St. Mary of the Angels