Franciscan Centenary Celebrations in Russia

Collaboration of the Local Franciscan Family

05 February 2024

The celebrations of the first two phases of the “Great Franciscan Jubilee” of 2023, the Papal approval of the “Rule” and the crib of Greccio, brought a change in collaboration that already exists at the local level among the members of the Franciscan family in Russia.

For many years the fraternity of the Annunciation (OFM) of Saint Petersburg has been collaborating with our conventual brothers: organizing together the days of spiritual retreats; our (OFM) parish of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which is undergoing repairs, has been hosted in the convent of St. Anthony (OFM Conv), for liturgical celebrations and parish meetings. One of our OFM brothers translates the legal documents of the conventual friars for their custody; feasts and other celebrations many times are celebrated together; reciprocally we make substitutes in case of necessity; our OFM brother carries out spiritual guidance for the girls of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Mary.

Almost a year ago, the preparations for “the Great Franciscan Jubilee” made the leaders of the various communities of the Franciscan family present in Russia meet regularly (online because of big distance): a letter was written to the Episcopal Conference of Russia because in the Diocese particular pastoral attention concerning the celebrations of the “Franciscan Jubilee” was needed – the request was accepted. A marvelous conference was organized in May 2023 at Saint Petersburg to celebrate the centenary of the approval of the “Rule”; a commission was instituted to study and adapt the Franciscan liturgical calendar to the breviary and the missal. 

A competition of the crib involving all the faithful of the Russian Diocese was organized and it was concluded by an online meeting on 3rd February 2024. During the meeting, the bishop his Excellency, Mons. Nikolaij Dubinin (OFM Conv, the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Moscow) announced the winners and commented on the initiatives of the Franciscan Family. 
A Christmas recitation scheme for children in catechism has been sent to all the parish priests of Russian parishes. A Franciscan Calendar of 2024 has been printed and distributed among the faithful, that goes through the life of St. Francis month per month until the time he received the holy stigmata; online prayer meetings for peace were held between members of the Franciscan Family; a video on the “Rule” was published in collaboration with the Antonianum of Bologna and also a video on Christmas in Greccio in collaboration with a Catholic television studio.

Many important initiatives have been realized together. The friendship among us Franciscan men and women has to be underlined or better to call it, “the fraternity” which has empowered that which already exists. That is probably one of the best and important fruits of the first level of 2023 of the Franciscan centenary. We understand that the charism and the vocation of St. Francis to sanctity which was attained through the observance of the “Rule” is a gift that God has given to all of us Franciscan men and women. We in turn are to offer it to the Church and the world. 

The Order of the Friars Minor is present in Russia with the Foundation dependent on the Minister General “St. Francis of Assisi” with three fraternities of Saint Petersburg in Novosibirsk and Ussurijsk; and the fraternity of “the Foundation of the stigmata of St. Francis” at Smolensk, dependent on the Province of the Assumption of Katowice- Poland.

Br Stefano Invernizzi, OFM
Foundation of “Saint Francis of Assisi”, Russia

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