Tempo Forte of the General Definitory – September
Communique from the General Definitory – September 2010
The first meeting of the General Definitory after the summer holidays took place from 6th – 16th September at the General Curia. At the opening session, beginning with the Minister General, each member of the Definitory took it in turn to share something of what he had been doing since the previous meeting in July: visits to fraternities and Entities of the Order, meetings outside the Order, holidays, and contacts with a variety of collaborators.
The Definitory spent some time reflecting on Mandate n. 24 of the 2009 General Chapter concerning the Amazonia Project, in the light of some more concrete proposals on the matter put forward at the meeting of UCLAF. In conformity with the capitular Mandate, the Definitory began to sketch out a plan of action in order to move the Project towards implementation. It is important to bear in mind that this Project belongs not only to the General Government of the Order or to those Entities which live and operate in the area of Amazonia, but also to the whole Order, as was made clear in the General Chapter.
After the summer break, the Definitory met with the Discretorium of the Fraternity of S. Maria Mediatrice to review the evaluation of the progress of the fraternity one year after the General Chapter. The members of the Definitory and the Discretorium spoke openly and frankly about some aspects of life in fraternity in an effort to move forward from what is good to what is better.
Time was also devoted to identifying the principal themes the Definitory wants to concentrate on during the coming year of their service (2010-2011). It was decided to set aside a fixed amount of time during the Definitory meetings, at least three times during the year, so that the members of the Definitory can research and reflect on a particular theme in order to help the Definitory implement its programme for the animation of the Order using its two principal instruments: Moratorium and Starting afresh from the Gospel. After much reflection and discussion, the theme chosen for this coming year has to do with our identity, with particular emphasis on Mandates n. 2 and 13 of the General Chapter. In their study of the theme, the Definitors will seek from time to time the assistance of friars from outside.
In the course of the ten day meeting, the Definitory examined and made decisions concerning more than 80 files (plichi) that came from different Entities of the Order and that included a very wide variety of matters to be dealt with, e.g. ratification of elections in Chapter, outside of Chapter and in the Capitular Congressus; dispensations from Particular Statutes; readmission to the Order without the obligation of repeating a novitiate; exclaustration, dispensation from solemn vows, secularizations, dispensations from the obligations of priestly ordination, dismissal from the Order etc. Concern was expressed about the high number of departures of friars from the Order, whether returning to secular life or transferring to the diocesan clergy.
Three General Visitators were appointed:
- Br César Külkamp of the Province of the Immaculate Conception in Brazil for the Autonomous Custody of the Seven Joys, in Brazil;
- Br Ernesto Echeverría of the Province of St Francis in Ecuador, for the Province of the Most Holy Trinity in Chile;
- Br Aleks Lanur of the Province of St Michael the Archangel, in Indonesia, for the Autonomous Custody of St Francis, Herald of Peace in West Papua, Indonesia, in place of Br Fred Dijkmans who has had to offer his resignation on the grounds of ill health.
Over the course of the summer months, quite a number of Visitators forwarded to the General Curia the final report of their visit. Among those which were considered during this Tempo Forte were the following:
- Br Francesco Bravi’s report on the Visitation of the Custody of the Holy Land;
- Br Rubén Tierrablanca’s report on the Visitation of the Custody of the Holy Martyrs of Morocco;
- Br Rufin Maryjka’s report on the Visitation of the Province of the Assumption of the BVM, in Poland;
- Br Ángel Talens Albiñana’s report on the Visitation of the Province of St Salvador of Horta, in Catalonia, Spain;
- Br Alberto Tosini’s report on the Visitation of the Province of St Charles Borromeo, in Italy.;
- Br Livio Crisci’s report on the Visitation of the Province of St Anthony of Padua, in Italy;
- Br Jan Vianney Dohnal’s report on the Visitation of the Province of the Most Holy Saviour in Slovakia;
- Br Juan Ignacio Muro Aréchiga’s report on the Visitation of the Province of San Felipe de Jesús, in Mexico;
- Br José Ángel Eguiguren’s report on the Visitation of the Province of Santiago de Compostela, in Spain;
- Br Ambrose Nguyen Van Si’s report on the Visitation of the Custody of St Anthony of Padua, in the Philippines.
Time was also devoted during the meeting to considering how best to implement Mandate n. 29 of the General Chapter, concerning the 25th Anniversary of the “spirit of Assisi”, at the level of the Franciscan Family, and at the level of each Entity of the Order. The General Definitory was helped in its deliberations on this point by the presence of Br Joe Rozansky, Director of the Office of JPIC. As the OFM representative to the group entrusted with preparing the celebration, Roman VI, Br Joe gave an update on the most recent developments in this area. More concrete information about the proposals and suggestions concerning the “spirit of Assisi” will be communicated to the Entities later in the year.
The General Definitory paid a visit to the site of the ex-orphanage, now designated as a hostel for pilgrims with the title “Il Cantico”. Here the Definitors were able to review the progress of the reconstruction currently under way. The visit proved to be highly satisfactory and the work is continuing within the time-frame and budget originally foreseen.
A small commission of Definitors presented an initial outline of what needs to be taken into consideration in the process of restructuring and re-dimensioning within the Order. After much discussion and dialogue, it was decided to send the draft text to some Ministers of Provinces who had already some experience of radical restructuring. A more definitive text will be prepared for the Tempo Forte of November.
Towards the end of the meeting, the Definitory examined 9 requests for financial assistance submitted by a number of Entities. Some of the more urgent requests were granted, while others were deferred for further clarification of the situation. The Vicar General, Br Michael Perry, presented an update on efforts in the United States, in Asia, and in Italy, in the field of fundraising and development on behalf of the Order. In the current economic climate, this is a difficult area but much progress is being made.
On the morning of 16th September, the Minister General, Vicar General, seven of the General Definitors, and the Secretary General went to the Shrine of La Verna to celebrate the Feast of the Stigmata of our Holy Father Francis.
Although the Tempo Forte of September lasted some ten days, it was felt that an additional meeting was required to develop some of the ideas that were emerging from the reflections of the Definitors. So, the members of the General Definitory who were then in Rome met from 5th – 7th October to continue their reflections. The Definitory also reviewed the working of some of the Commissions, nominated Fr Vidal Rodriguez, Secretary General for Formation and Studies, as the General Visitator for Collegio S. Isidoro in Rome, a fraternity dependent on the Minister General, examined some 20 Plichi (files) that had arrived at the Curia after the end of the Tempo Forte, and considered a number of matters concerning some of the Entities of the Order.
Rome, October 14, 2010
Br. Aidan McGrath, ofm