"During our visit to Egypt, we met with almost all the friars of the Province with meetings spread over the four zones: Luxor, Assiut, Cairo and Alexandria," shared the Vicar General of the Order, Br Ignacio Ceja Jiménez, after visiting the Province of the Holy Family of Egypt from 23 April to 2 May.
"We were able to get to know the reality of the places - underlined the Vicar General - where the friars live and carry out their mission, and we met with the lay people who collaborate with them: in parishes, sanctuaries, schools, homes for orphans, homes for students, etc. We also met with the Provincial Definitory, the formators and the friars in initial formation".
The Definitor for Africa, Br Victor Luís Quematcha, who accompanied the Vicar on the visit, shared the objective of the journey from Rome to Cairo: "We brought the friars of Egypt the fraternal greetings and closeness of the Minister General and his Definitory. With our visit, the Minister wanted to express the Order's closeness and gratitude towards the witness of evangelical life in the footsteps of Francis, in a context where Muslims constitute the majority of the population compared to Christians".
The Vicar General and the Definitor addressed several themes, such as the sense of belonging to the Order of Friars Minor, the call of the last General Chapter to renew identity and to be brothers and minors in mission, and the call to care for an authentic service to the Church and society starting from an authentic life that witnesses to the primacy of God.
"We were very edified by the witness of our brothers," said Brother Ignacio, "who showed us a great fraternal welcome and worked hard, sometimes with sacrifice, for the good of the Church and society in Egypt.
The Egyptian Province currently has 89 friars, distributed in 23 friaries. The friars are dedicated to pastoral service, education (1765 pupils, 65% of whom are Muslims), and promoting culture through cinema and other activities. The Franciscan presence in Egypt dates back to the time of St Francis, in the early winter of 1219, when Francis met with Sultan Ayyūbid al-Malik al-Kamil in Damietta.