19 May The new Province of North Italy
The new province Sant’Antonio dei Frati Minori was born on May 16, 2016, combining all the brothers of Northern Italy which until now had belonged to six different provinces.
The general Minister, Br. Michael Perry, and the general Definitor Br. Antonio Scabio took part in this important event which took place in Padua, in honor of the patron saint of the new province. Over 250 friars of northern Italy attended. They were led by Br. Massimo Fusarelli, delegate of the general Minister and Visitator of the six Provinces. Some Italian provincial Ministers, the Minister of France and Belgium, the Minister of Slovenia, the Custos of Albania and other brothers have enriched the day with their presence.
The first part of the celebration was held in the Church of San Francesco Grande. The general Minister’s Decree suppressing the six Provinces was read after a brief and lively history of the Franciscan presence in Northern Italy since the time of St. Francis.
The six provincial Ministers returned their Provincial seal and asked forgiveness of their failings. The general Minister, receiving the seals, absolved them from Office and imposed a healthy penance on them. After the singing of the Magnificat, the friars left the Church of San Francesco Grande and went in silent procession to the Basilica of Sant’Antonio, where they held the second part of the morning, with the reading of the Decree of erection of the new Province of San Antonio of the Friars Minor. This was followed with the announcement of the name of the new provincial Minister, Br. Mario Favretto who, after the prescribed oath and the profession of faith, received the embrace and obedience of a very long and festive row of Friars. Then the names of the Vicar, Br. Mario Vaccari, and other members of the new Definitorium were disclosed. The Assembly fervently prayed for all of them and gave them their fraternal blessing. The morning ended with the Eucharistic Celebration, presided by the general Minister with the new elected officials and outgoing Ministers.
In the afternoon, after lunch, some seventy friars began the celebration of the first Chapter of the new province, with a time of prayer and listening to the speech of the general Minister, followed by an exchange of questions and fraternal reflections. When the general Minister returned to Rome, the Capitulars continued their work planning the life and mission of this new entity of the Order, which currently has more than six hundred friars.