From left to right: Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, OFM Conv., Archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica, Vicar General of His Holiness for Vatican City and President of the Fabric of St. Peters, friar Martin Day, OFM Conv., Minister Provincial of the Province of Our Lady of Consolation, and friar Carlos Trovarelli, OFM Conv., Minister General, share a meal at General Curia in Rome.
In January, friar Mario Serrano and I traveled to Rome for a week-long “school” on how to work with the Order’s general administration. As secretary of the province, friar Mario’s track was a bit different than mine because of the strict requirements about how to conduct correspondence with a world-wide Order. Not that I loafed all week. There were all sorts of input provided covering canon law, mission support, financial administration, the “ministry of authority,” as it is often called (how to be a good major superior), etc. Some topics were livelier than others obviously, but the week was well spent.
In such gatherings a primary benefit is simply interacting with friars from around the world, discovering commonalities and deflating presumptions. As an Order we are moving more firmly into the area of collaboration across the boundaries of the provinces. The three Polish provinces, for example, each have delegations of friars working in Germany and helping thereby to alleviate the shortage of priests there. This process has been afoot for some time already, but is picking up steam across the Order, one more reason to build good systems of mutual dialogue and understanding. In our province the increased collaboration can be seen in several ways, but particularly in the number of friars who have come from St. Maximilian Kolbe Province in India and Our Lady of Guadalupe Province in Mexico to work with the friars from our own Province and share the Conventual Franciscan common life. The richness of this collaborative encounter cannot be overestimated. It truly speaks of the universality of the Church as the Body of Christ and brings us into deeper communion with God’s will that all people be brought together into God’s eternal kingdom. Knowing that the Holy Spirit enlivens and inspires that movement, we work to make ourselves available to these new developments. The dynamism that such encounters and collaboration have already brought spur us on to a greater investment of ourselves in this path forward.