20 October 2017

Chapter of the Stigmata Province

Meet the new provincial minister and council of the Province of the Sacred Stigmata of Saint Francis (aka the New Jersey Province). The provincial minister is Br. Remo DiSalvatore (center), the provincial vicar is Br. Robert Williams (second from the right), the second councilor is Br. Francisco Arrendondo (far right), the third councilor is Br. Ronald Giannone (far left) and the fourth councilor is Br. Robert Perez (second from the left).

Congratulations and godspeed. 

01 October 2017

At the Service of the Church as Capuchins

About half of our Capuchin bishops attended the gathering held for them in Assisi on September 13-15. We are extremely proud of these men - dedicated both to serving the Church and to preserving their Capuchin spirit.

24 July 2017

Profession of temporary vows

One downside of being on the general council is that I cannot attend most of the celebrations in my province. An advantage, however, is that I can attend the celebrations of other provinces. This evening, I had the privilege of attending the profession of temporary vows by Br. Sunil D'Costa in Toronto. His vows were accepted by Br. Mauro Jöhri, who is visiting the Province of Central Canada at the moment.
Best wishes and prayers, Br. Sunil!

21 May 2016

The changing face of the Order in North America

The new provincial council of the Province of Mary, Mother of the Good Shepherd (left to right): Br. John Juhl, Br. Henry Alva, Br. Germaine Kpakafi, Br. John Frampton and Br. Paul Duplessie
The Province of Mary, Mother of the Good Shepherd (Central Canada) celebrated its tenth ordinary provincial chapter during May 16-19. The underlying topics of discussion would have been familiar to most of the provinces in the North American-Pacific Capuchin Conference: how to deal with the financial, fraternal and ministerial challenges brought about by the aging and shrinking of the province's membership, and how to assure quality formation for the young men who want to join the Order, to name two of the topics. This chapter, however, was unique in at least one respect. It was the first chapter in the history of the Order in North America to elect a provincial minister who is neither a native of North America or of the founders' country. The new provincial minister, Br. Henry Alva, is a member of the Province of Karnataka (India) who opted several years ago to minister in this province. To put an exclamation point on this unique situation, the newly-elected provincial vicar, Br. Germain Kpakafi, is a member of the General Custody of the Congo who has been ministering in Canada for the past few years.

The uniqueness of this situation may not last long. Most of the circumscriptions in the NAPCC have some form of collaborative arrangement with one or more circumscriptions in other countries. The phenomenon is again changing the face of the Order in the conference. The first change took place decades ago as provinces gradually became "americanized", even while keeping some vestigial customs of their founding provinces. Now, the provinces here are becoming increasingly multicultural, or as some would prefer to say, intercultural. The change is taking place not only because friars from other circumscriptions are coming here temporarily to minister, but also because the North American provinces are getting vocations from a wider range of cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Given this situation, it will not be at all surprising if provincial councils in the NAPCC begin increasingly to portray the global reach of the Order.  

09 December 2015

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

I'm conducting an economic visitation of the Province of Malta. Last night, on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, I was able to witness one of the religious processions for which Malta is famous. This short video doesn't really do justice to the experience, but it will give you an idea.


17 October 2015

NAPCC meeting

The North American-Pacific Capuchin Conference met in Beacon, New York, on October 15 and 16. As usual, the agenda was quite full, but our executive secretary, Patrick McSherry, kept us focused so that we could finish on time. In this meeting, Francis Gasparik was re-elected president of the Conference, Nick Mormando was re-elected vice president, and David Nestler was re-elected as member-at-large. There were a number of other appointments, which will be made public in due time.
The most important agenda item from my point of view was the approval of the English translation of the 2013 Constitutions and Ordinances of the General Chapters for use in the conference. The text will now be presented to the general council for approval.
Our hosts, the Province of New Jersey and Saint Lawrence Friary in Beacon, treated us very well, which added to the enjoyment of the gathering.

18 July 2015

Challenges and hope in Quebec, Canada

For the past three weeks I have been conducting a visitation of the Sacred Heart Province in Eastern Canada, assisted by Br. Pio Murat. Like most North American provinces, the Sacred Heart Province is receiving far fewer vocations than in the past, and as a result it has had to close some fraternities in order to reinforce fraternal life in those that remain. It was the first province in North America to enter intentionally into a project of fraternal collaboration with provinces in other parts of the world. Currently, there are six brothers from the Province of Kerala-St. Francis and four from the Province of Madagascar working in Eastern Canada.

One of the historical hallmarks of this province was its engagement in the issues regarding the poor and marginalized of society. Many of those issues have now faded, and as the number of friars has decreased and their ages increased, they can no longer be as engaged as before. Yet you can still sense that spark among the brothers; they have an interest in the what is happening in the world and in the Order beyond the borders of the province. One of the manifestations of this interest is their simple lifestyle, mindful as they are that many people even in North America struggle to make ends meet. Pio and I were also impressed by the brothers' commitment to prayer.

Speaking to the brothers in the fraternity of the infirmary this morning, Pio remarked that every stage of life has its gifts. This is as true of provinces as it is of individual friars. These past three weeks have reminded me that just because a province is older and smaller, it nonetheless has gifts to offer to the Order.