22 May 2024

Concluded: Meeting with the brothers of Asia and Oceania (FCAO)

Manila (Philippines), April 7-13

From April 7 to 13, the General Definitorium and the General Offices of Formation and Studies, Missions and Evangelization, and Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation met with the brothers of the entities of the Franciscan Conference of Asia and Oceania (FCAO).  The event was hosted by the Province of San Pedro Bautista at Manila (Philippines).

After the first day, the meeting proceeded, alternating plenary moments, thematic meetings, formal and cultural visits to Manila and its surroundings.

In his message entitled, “Living and Bearing Witness to the Gospel in Pluralism”, addressed to the representatives of the Conference, the Minister General, Br. Massimo Fusarelli, underlined how Christians are a minority in those places, and the Franciscans even more so. “We have the opportunity of being pilgrims and foreigners in this world, serving the Lord in poverty and humility (RB 6, 2). Following the Lord Jesus in his abasement as brothers and minors today, I believe, can mean becoming capable of remaining open, listening and communicating with many, without pretensions,” the Minister said, recalling also how the life of the Friars Minor in Asia and Oceania is characterized by a vast range of realities.  Many brothers, in fact, are engaged in ordinary pastoral work, as well as in works of charity, education and social assistance, trying to respond to the needs of the population.  And all this invites the Order to respond as brothers and minors in a synodal manner, just as Pope Francis invites us to do in his encyclical Fratelli tutti.

Br. Nikola Kozina e Br. Baptist D’Souza, respectively Director and Vice Director of the Development Office, presented the objectives and the services which the office offers, providing practical advice on project proposals.  The presentation of Br. Albert Schmucki, Director of the Office for the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Adults, aroused much interest among the assembled brothers, given the priority that the Order is giving to this topic.

The representative of the General Secretariats of Formation and Studies and of Mission and Evangelization met with their counterparts, sharing lights and shadows, challenges and strengths, various proposals to discuss, enrich and incorporate into the listing of resolutions which the FCAO will have to take into consideration.  The same occurred for the JPIC offices.

The General Definitors had discussions with the Asiatic entities, addressing their concerns and recognizing the salient points raised by their ministers.  In the meeting they also saw important documents such as resolutions, recommendations, and declarations.  These documents were based on in-depth discussions during the secretaries’ and facilitators’ breakout sessions.

The brothers of the General Curia had the opportunity to visit some places of the cultural heritage of the Philippines, such as the historic Intramuros enclave of Manila, the cathedral of the city, the sanctuary of the parish of S. Antonio in Forbes Park, the recently built parish of Santa Chiara d’Assisi in Navotas-Malabon, the sanctuary of Nostra Signora degli Abbandonati. The group also visited a so-called “insertion community”, a new concept of formation in which the brothers live and work with the poor while pursuing their theological studies. 

Source: OFM.org

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