• Update: Thu, Apr 27, 2000


    Prot. n. 089523

    Rome, April 24, 2000

    To all my dear brothers:

    May the Lord give you his peace!

    In the joy of Eastertide I greet you all once more. I do so to share some thoughts and to acquaint you with a project that seems to the General Definitory to be both useful for the world-wide spread of our Fraternity, and also a matter of urgency.

    To "go throughout the whole world" is an integral part of the Gospel call to Franciscans: we are "called" so as to be "sent".

    Still today a readiness to go and preach the Gospel beyond the boundaries of homeland, our own country and our own cultural milieu is a sure sign that we are faithful to the call we have received. The contemporary world is facing us with new and major challenges. We have to respond to them if we intend staying faithful to our vocation. For several years now our Order has moved in this direction by planning and bringing into being missionary projects of a deliberately intercultural and international composition. Such fraternities already exist in many African countries, in Asia, Russia Kazakhstan...

    In order to continue the progress so far made, and to meet specific needs that have come to light from the experience gained, it has seemed to the General Definitory and to me that we must not delay in announcing the beginning of a new international Fraternity. It will be set up at Brussels. Its principal purpose will be to prepare missionaries for the projects already begun, and also for other new forms of evangelisation in all Continents.

    You will see from the information accompanying this letter that we are thinking in terms of pilot scheme. It will be experimental. We want to begin with some volunteers, and then to leave its subsequent development to the Spirit. The Fraternity with its special character will offer food for thought to each Conference, to each Entity and to every friar, inviting a fresh look at the broader perspective of each one's own vocation in a world-wide context.

    It seems a good time to start, in the Jubilee Year, at the beginning of a new millennium that we want to be better and more creative. This is a moment of grace, given us by the Lord in his mercy, to breathe new vigour into our Franciscan life, to revive its missionary direction, and to keep faith with our past. We must not allow fear to dictate to us. Neither the structures we have to keep going nor the fewness of numbers must be allowed to limit our missionary generosity.

    In 1997 the General Chapter of Assisi spoke: "We invite all the Provinces of the Order to be alert not only to sharing their material goods, but even more to the exchange of persons and cultures in order to stress that our fraternity is universal" (From Memory to Prophecy, 40). I am convinced that Francis himself is asking us today to be more bold, more decisive in taking once more to the roads of our world, in freedom and with imagination.

    A new heart, given by the Spirit, will turn us in the direction of new forms of evangelisation, creating new structures more helpful for dialogue with the men and women of today. There are many friars, young and not so young, who are looking for concrete signs to give shape to their "Gospel dreams" so as to live with freshness and enthusiasm the spirit of their vocation.


    Brother Giacomo Bini, OFM
    Minister General

    A proposal to set up a Fraternity
    for animating and forming
    brothers for the Order's
    missionary ventures
    in all Continents

    "for this the Lord has sent you to go throughout the whole world: that you bear witness to His voice by word and deed, and let everyone know that there is no one All-powerful, except He" (LOrd 9)

    General Aims

    1. to renew the missionary dimension of our Franciscan vocation.
    2. to provide for the missionary formation of the brethren who feel called to the missions, and of those already there.
    3. to support the international missionary projects of the Order in all continents, with special attention to promoting a mix of cultures, and new forms of "presence" in the world.
    4. to help in the discernment of suitability of candidates for the missionary projects.
    5. to offer the opportunity for a sabbatical experience for brothers already engaged in the missionary projects of the Order.
    6. to encourage and facilitate a real inculturation in the places to which the volunteers will go to live and work.

    Location and composition of the permanent Fraternity

    1. It will be situated in Brussels (Belgium)
    2. It will comprise 3 or 4 solemnly professed friars, preferably with a considerable experience and competence in mission and formation.

    The qualities and tasks of the permanent fraternity
    It must be a Fraternity

    1. committed to witnessing Franciscan values in its daily living
    2. international (intercultural)
    3. bilingual: French and English
    4. integrated in the local Church
    5. able to live the spirit of the missionary project in a simple and welcoming fashion.

    Preparation of the missionaries
    The "normal" span of preparation will be six months, and is expected to comprise the following elements:

      1.Discernment and accompaniment as regards:
      • the concrete needs that arise in living an international and intercultural missionary Fraternity
      • deepening of interpersonal relationships (the Fraternity cannot be allowed to grow too large in number)
      • readiness to give priority to the projects of the Fraternity over personal projects
      • the ability to overcome "moulds" or "traditions" deriving from one's own culture so as to find and live what is essential of the Franciscan charism expressed in a different culture.

      This discernment and accompaniment demands:

      • Clarification of one's Franciscan vocation in the light of the missionary spirit of the Order, paying attention to motives, and readiness to make oneself available
      • Readiness to give pride of place to the life and witness of the Fraternity as being the first and more important manner of mission
      • Appreciation of the new challenges of mission, seeking to find the face of the "leper" as it appears today (e.g. in refugees, drug-dependency, AIDS-sufferers, orphans, widows, prisoners...)
    2. Formation
      It is structured as:
      • Basic formation, common to all volunteers
      • Specific formation, relevant to the missionary project chosen;
      • Sabbatical periods: times of renewal for brethren already engaged in missionary projects.

    Juridical status

    1. The permanent Fraternity will be subject juridically to the Minister General, while each friar will remain incardinated in his own Province of origin.
    2. The appointment of brothers to the respective projects will be co-ordinated by the Minister General together with the SGME, bearing in mind the wish of the volunteer and also the needs of the various projects of the Order.

    Requirements for the volunteers

    1. Solemn profession.
    2. Express request on the part of the friar.
    3. A favourable judgement of his suitability expressed by the Minister Provincial in accordance with the Rule, and his obedience.
    4. An adequate knowledge of French or English. This could, in case of need, be gained in the situation before beginning the full-time programme.
    5. The possibility, by way of exception, of completing theological studies outside one's own Province.

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