Unity: Within Arm’s Reach


The participation of the three OFM General Ministers in the seventh Congress of the School of Higher Franciscan Studies (ESEF) concluded on May 23, 2017. After having listened to the three I have the certainty that the unity of the Obediences will occur sooner or later. In his final speech the three Ministers encouraged the bases to take initiative, to “test” new forms of community and brotherhood.

Friar Marco Tasca, OFMConv, remarked that when “speaking of brotherhood, it is important to have the courage to try new forms of community. When in a province, 4 or 5 friars, after a discernment and dialogue, decide they want to try something new, I say, let’s try. What can happen? It is very important to have this courage today. This is the time of attempts. Let us try things! What can we lose? Let’s try! And let’s see what happen, we will guide you, we are near, we will accompany you… so don’t be afraid to try!… This morning Sebastian (Mora, general Secretary of CARITAS Spain) said we all have the right to fail… If we fail… patience. We have this compulsion to always be 100% certain…”

The “unity” to which we walk, is already a reality in some projects. As friar Michael Perry OFM indicated “for three years now we have given freedom to those brothers who want to experience new things, like the experience of Emmaus, which will begin in September, with five brothers, two OFM, two OFMConv and one from the Holy Land custody “. These new experiences do not so much seek to strengthen ties between the obediences but, rather, search to share specific missions, such as the ongoing formation.  But “common mission” is not something new, as friar Michael explained. For example, in Lusaka (Zambia) joint training has been going on for 25 years in St. Bonaventure University – College and the respective houses of formation. “All of these experiences are indicative that history is important but not decisive,” said Perry, referring to unity.

Meanwhile, friar Mauro Jhöri, OFMCap noted that “the reality of the collaboration is a growing reality. In an increasingly multicultural world, more interrelated, we can build all the walls that we want… but that is not the way, that doesn’t work”. In that context, these “small significant projects of living together, facing difficulties, because there are (hardships) and I think that this is part of what the spirit is saying to us at this time”.


Questioned by the reality of the Iberian Peninsula and the difficulties of walking together, I urge the general Ministers to point to ways to create spaces for participation and joint formation. Friar Marco’s response expresses, in my point of view, the way to go: “often we, the general Ministers, who push to make these experiences of communion, but I would so much pefer that you at the grassroots would be the ones to tell us: we want to try this, what do you think?… a little bit of “vamos” … Let’s get going!” Let’s go! Let’s go! We’re so imprisoned by the things we do that we are killing dreams.”

In these times (and every era) we should let God act freely, as Friar Michael said: “there is much talk of our realities, but this is not enough, that is not the main reason to unify us. The main reason, for me, is our common charism, our identity and our common vocation. I don’t want to block the grace of God, I don’t want to hinder what God desires for our future and saying this, I do not want to block the possibility of a future of unity of the three orders. We must open our hearts, I do not know how we will be able to do this, but the grace of God is great.”

By Gabriel López Santamaría in Pazybien.es: Viviendo el Evangelio al estilo de Francisco

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