The Meeting of the Minister General and the General Definitory with African Conference

Nairobi (Kenya), 23rd – 29th 2024

30 January 2024

From the 23rd to 29th January 2024 the Minister General and his General Definitory met the Ministers Provincial, Custodes and Presidents of the Entities of the African Conference in Nairobi, Kenya in the Province of St. Francis in Africa, Madagascar and Mauritius.

On the first day after being welcomed by Br. Fredrick Odhiambo, the Minister Provincial of the Province of St. Francis, Br. Virgile Agbessi, the President of the Conference speaking online he demonstrated in his presentation the actual situation of the Conference: the growing number, but he underlined the challenge on formation of candidates and their formators. Furthermore, he spoke of a good collaboration among the Entities of the continent, inviting them to reflect on the new presence in Nigeria. In the afternoon also Br. Massimo Fusarelli, Minister General, underlined the importance of formation, both initial and ongoing, and the choice of formators so that they may be able to accompany in a better way the young friars. He affirmed that there is a need of investing in formation of the Guardians and inculturation of the Gospel and the Franciscan Charism.

In regard to the situation of the war, continuous instability and exploitation of natural resources of the continent by multinational companies and the complexity of many African Governments, he invited and encouraged the brothers to work for justice, living together as brothers and protect the nature. At the end, Br. Massimo invited the Entities to greater collaboration among themselves, challenging them to open a new presence in Nigeria. After, followed a discussion and Eucharistic celebration presided by Br. Siphelele Gwanisheni (Vice President of the Conference).

The other days were characterized by various presenters who were alternating among themselves: Br. Marcel Tshikez, Secretary for the Mission and Evangelization of the Conference, he made his presentation online on the joys, challenges and hopes of the African Entities.

Among the joys that exist in the conference surely there is a collaboration among various Entities even under the form of mission: it is growing more and more among the friars of the continent the willingness to become missionaries in African countries with different people as many are already doing.

About the challenges, Br. Marcel identified the challenges of inculturation, communication among the Entities, ecology, vocation of Lay Friars, interreligious and ecumenical dialogue, the necessity of having clear relationships with the Dioceses. Br. Marcel spoke on the importance of opening a house in Nigeria so as to embrace and undertake new forms of evangelization taking into account the African context. 

Br. Victor Luís Quematcha, General Definitor of the African conference, analyzed the theme of re-restructuring that is making New Conferences or two Sub- Conferences with regard to the languages (anglophone and  francophone).

Br. Lage Afonso, Custos of Mozambique and the Secretary of the Conference, treated the theme of initial formation: collaboration among the Entities which is a good experience that needs to be maintained and developed, but he realized that there is a need of having more qualified professors and formators who are capable of accompanying better the young friars. New infrastructures are also necessary so as to be able to accommodate the brothers in formation as the Entity are already aware of their limits, the level of professors as they are already blessed by the presence of the missionaries from other Entities.

On Sunday 28 January the Minister General and the General Definitor for Africa met with the students of theology in the Province. 20 brothers expressed their lively gratitude to the Minister General for his fraternal support and to all the benefactors of the Order.

Br. Victor explained the idea of the African Conference on Formation, through which the students coming from the different Entities of Africa will be invited to three different study centres on the continent (Lusaka - Zambia, Kolwezi in Democratic Republic of Congo, Catholic Missionary Institute of Abidjan in Ivory Coast), to undertake an International and Missionary Formation.

After the presentation of Br. Antonio Iacona, the Secretary General, on the use of the database of the Order, the meeting was concluded by an evaluation on the themes which were dealt with in the days of sharing, reflection, prayer and fraternity.

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