The Visit to the Franciscan Province of the Immaculate Conception of Spain

Br. Michael Perry, Minister General, and Br. Antonio Scabio, Definitor General visited the Franciscan Province of the Immaculate Conception of Spain from 6 to 7 June 2017, in the framework of the celebration of the day of the Province.

The Provincial Definitorium selected the Basilica of San Francisco the Great in Madrid and the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Loreto in Espartinas (Seville), respectively to celebrate this event. Thus, each brother and each fraternity had chosen the day and place best suited for them to attend.

The first meeting was in the Basilica of San Francisco el Grande in Madrid on 6 June, Tuesday, after the warm greeting of the brothers (some were practically unknown to each other up to the moment). The day began with the greeting of the Provincial Minister Br. Juan Carlos Moya. He thanked the brothers who have prepared this meeting, especially those of the fraternity of St. Francis the Great. Br. Juan Carlos Moya described to the Minister General, the Definitor General and the Bishops the actual state of the Province. A two-and-a-half-year itinerary had prepared the first Chapter (late November this year); the average age of Friars is 70 years old and during this time, 48 brothers had died; the vocational promotion and the assistance to the sick brothers and seniors are the priorities. Finally, Br. Juan Carlos thanked God for the group of a small number of Friars in formation and for the commitment to sustain the pastoral presences and activities.

Mons.Fr. Carlos Amigo took the floor and greeted the Minister and the Brothers. He encouraged us to continue on our mission with renewed strength and enthusiasm. Br. Juan Oliver, Bishop of the Vicariate of Requena and brother of our Province, said that in Peru the five brothers who serve there strongly feel their belonging to the Province in the mission entrusted to them by the Church. We thank both of them for participating of this day.

The Minister General, Br. Michael Perry, successor of our father St. Francis, expressed thanks for  the invitation to participate in these meetings and articulated his gratitude to the Government of the Province for the work and dedication in these early years that  logically had been very difficult. Commitment and courage are the most appropriate attitudes for this moment in the Province, said the Minister General. God is behind all this and contemplates the way we are walking in faith; God will open us to mutual acceptance and will make us witnesses in the world.

Then the brothers celebrated the Holy Eucharist in the beautiful Basilica, which was witness to this historic and delightful event. Finally, a fraternal meal was served.  The friars had lots of time to enjoy the company of each other.

The next day, June 7, 2017, Wednesday, around 10 o’clock in the morning, a group of about 80 brothers from the Province came to the Convent of Loreto de Espartinas to meet the Minister General, Br. Michael Perry. It was the celebration of the Day of the Province. The guardian, Br. Joaquín Domínguez, introduced the fraternity to the Minister General and to the rest of the brothers who came for the event. The Provincial Minister, Br. Juan Carlos Moya succinctly conveyed the data of the Province and the itinerary in these two and a half years, as he did in Madrid yesterday.

Then the Minister General said, “When you want to build a ship, the workforces should not look for wood but they should be intrepid sailors.” He affirmed that in the present moment one has to renew oneself physical, mental and spiritually. The person is more important than the structures. He analyzed the current signs of Society, Youth and the Church. Br. Michael invited the brothers to bet on being an Evangelical response to this challenge. Br. Michael Perry provided data from the whole Order showing areas where, despite signs of death, our vocations are now growing. It is necessary to know the difficulties in order to respond to what the world, the Church and the Franciscan Family expects of us. God must be the center of our lives on all levels. Br. Michael offered the word to the postulants so that they were the ones to give us their vision of the present and future of the Province. Then a fruitful dialogue was established among the brothers, the Minister General and the Definitor General; the theme was the union of the three Franciscan Orders, the lay vocation, the brothers’ concerns, etc.,

A short break at 12.30 p.m. and then the Holy Eucharist was celebrated. The Minister General presided over accompanied by the Provincial Minister, the Vicar, the Definitors, the Visitor General and the guardian of the fraternity. The brothers renewed their profession, especially the brothers who were celebrating 25 or 50 anniversaries.

The meeting led to a fraternal meal. Br. Michael and the brothers celebrated his 63rd birthday with food, cake and vivid songs. Many photos, hugs, congratulations. Joy marked the end of this gathering.