25 December 2011
"Christian, remember your dignity, and now that you share in God's own nature, do not return by sin to your former base condition. Bear in mind who is your head and of whose body you are a member. Do not forget thatyou have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of God's kingdom" (from a sermon by Saint Leo the Great, pope).
20 December 2011
This year, the Capuchins of the Western America Province celebrated the 25th year of their presence in northern Mexico. In 1998, the mission began accepting candidates to the Order and has since seen steady growth so there are now about twenty local vocations among the professed brothers of the Custody. Along with the four friars of the Western American Province ministering in the Custody, there are two friars from Goa, India, and three from Brazil. At various times in the past, friars from the Provinces of Mid-America and New Jersey have also collaborated in the mission.
On Sunday, Br Daniel Jimenez de Santiago professed perpetual vows into the hands of the General Minister during the 11:00 Eucharist. Both Daniel and I had the same novice director, Bill "Memo" Kraus, although a few years separate his novitiate and mine. In fact, I am the oldest surviving novice of Bill Kraus in the Order.
02 October 2011
After the Mass, we had a festive lunch, prepared by our cook, Claudio, with the help of other staff members.
During the November Definitory meeting, we will celebrate the opening of our "new", temporary Generalate at the International College.
07 September 2011
As Mauro pointed out in his message to the participants, the Capuchin presence in the Americas, "began with the desire of European jurisdictions to follow the emigrants and to assist them pastorally." In some ways, the situation of migrants today is very different than it was when Capuchins first arrived in the Americas, but the need for pastoral care is still there. The hope of the meeting's organizers is that the participants can identify those needs and organize a response to them within the various regions of the American continent, or even set up a project that involves collaboration among different regions of the continent. As Mauro put it in his letter: "Starting from our guiding values, we cannot remain indifferent, and though we may feel powerless in the presence of a phenomenon of such gigantic proportions, we want to do something to alleviate the sufferings of as many people as possible. Planning for it and working on it together will make our efforts more effective. It is important that we not shrink from the task given us by the migrant."
The first two days of the meeting had input from three people. Fr. Rafael Moreno Villa, SJ, gave an overview of migration in the Americas. Fr. Daniel Groody, CSC, presented a conceptual framework for understanding the complex issue of immigration, then laid the groundwork for a theological understanding of immigration. Finally, Br. José Angel Echeverria, a member of the Order's Historical Institute, presented an historical overview of the Capuchin response to immigration in the Americas.
Further information about the meeting can be found on the blog of the JPE Office. Some of the excellent material
presented by Fr. Daniel Groody can be found on his website.
18 August 2011
One of the advantages of having to completely vacate the premises is that it gives everyone an opportunity to cull unnecessary or duplicate items from our offices. We have probably supplied enough recycled paper to save a few dozen trees. The furniture that is not needed for our rooms at the International College will be given to the Capuchin Poor Clares or organizations serving the poor. The old computers, printers and other electronic devices that have accumulated in storage over the past few decades will be disposed of in an environmentally-friendly manner. Ditto for the inks and chemicals remaining from the days when the Curia did its own printing. Saved from recycling, however, was the General Curia's first computer—an IBM PC-XT, purchased in 1985. I hope to convince the Capuchin Museum to add the computer to its collection.
The friars themselves will move to their new digs at the International College during October. Since I will be in Rome for less than two weeks during all of October, I have begun to move all non-essential items to the International College now. My desk has never been so clean. This must be what Capuchin austerity looks like! For the sake of clarity, I wish to point out that most of the boxes in the photograph to the right do not contain my personal belongings. In fact, just to move the complete set of the Analecta OFMCap. that came with the office required four boxes. I suppose I could give the set away, but I couldn't bring myself to part with it.
29 May 2011
The issue of being able to elect lay friars to serve as major superiors has been on my mind very often lately. It is an issue that has interested me from the time I joined the Order, but it has been brought to the front burner on several occasions this year. Every time I preside at a chapter – four times already this year, with at least another three to go – I am obliged to give “The Speech” about the futility of electing a non-ordained brother to the office of provincial minister or provincial vicar. This puts me in the uncomfortable position of having to defend a law of the Church, to which the Order belongs and to which we have professed obedience, which conflicts with our Order’s history and charism, not to mention common sense. At least in the NAPCC, the chapter delegates have been very diligent in charitably reminding me that they find the law to be unnecessary and unjustified. I know it and I get it!
Recently I have been asking myself which is more important, the principle or the practice? In other words, should we hold on to our position that “all brothers in final vows may be elected to all offices or positions except those which come because of ordination” (Const. 115,6) regardless of how long it takes, or should we accept a partial solution if it were offered to us tomorrow? A partial solution, for instance, might take the form of permission to have either a non-ordained provincial minister or provincial vicar as long as the other was an ordained brother; the general minister and general vicar, however, would always have to be ordained brothers. A few years ago, I would have considered this a rhetorical question, but not any longer. One reason this question has become real for me is that I have heard anecdotal evidence that some clerical institutes have been permitted to have just such an arrangement. If that is true, we could very possibly cut the same deal. The other reason this question has become real for me is that as the provinces in the West get smaller, it becomes more obvious that sometimes the best candidates for leadership positions have to be passed over because they are not ordained.
As the question has moved from rhetorical to real, I find my position shifting away from the principled to the practical solution. On principle, I would dislike having to restrict myself to voting for an ordained brother as provincial vicar merely because the chapter had elected a lay brother as provincial minister. Practically, however, I dislike it even more that I am not allowed to elect a lay friar as either provincial minister or vicar provincial, even when he is the best candidate. The problem with the practical solution is that accepting it might kill any hope we have of receiving what we really want. It is easy to believe that we could accept a partial solution in the short term while continuing to ask for permission to live our charism fully. In practice, however, having the ability to elect lay brothers as major superiors at the jurisdictional level would reduce the sense of urgency felt by the Order to ask for the full solution, as well as reduce the pressure on the Vatican (if, indeed, it feels any) to concede it. So the question really comes down to whether we as an Order are willing to go against our principles in order to receive some of what we want?
As this is an issue that affects all of us, I would appreciate hearing what you think about it.
23 April 2011
21 April 2011
14 January 2011
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