Franciscan Conventuals to Hold Missionary Congress

Focus on Formation

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ROME, JUNE 3, 2005 ( The focus of the next International Missionary Congress of the Franciscan Conventuals will be on formation, confirmed the order’s minister-general.

Father Joachim Giermek, in a letter sent to members last week of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual, stated that the theme of the congress, to be held Jan. 12-22, 2006, in Kerala, India, will be: «How to Form Conventual Franciscan Friars for Mission and Interculturalism at the Beginning of the Third Millennium.»

The meeting reflects the conclusions of the order’s extraordinary general chapter of 1998, and meetings last year in Poland, which decided to give priority to formation, wrote Father Giermek.

Topics related to formation were also discussed, «such as that of defining the Conventual Franciscan identity, that is, what is specific to our formation in order to be faithful to our charism at its origins and to the variety of cultures in which we live and of which we are the expression,» he continued.

Noting a growing presence of Franciscans in Latin America, Africa and Asia, «we note the necessity of defining our local Conventual Franciscan identity and to connect it with the tradition and with the variety of other Franciscan presences in the world for a mutual enrichment,» added Father Giermek.

Identity and mission

«We are convinced that the deeper awareness of our identity and ‘mission’ in the local Church needs to be the point of departure for an enriching exchange within the Franciscan order,» he said.

«The Congress hopes to be the first step» in «reflection on ‘mission,’ a theme which can be further discussed at the General Charter of 2007 and become eventually the priority of the order in the coming years,» said the minister-general.

«In this context, the terms «mission,» «to do mission,» and «to be in mission» should be understood to mean ‘calling-sending’ to evangelize or re-evangelize the cultures in which the order is present or could be present; mission seen likewise as witness and service, to evangelize or re-evangelize the cultures and societies and to enrich the local Churches with our Conventual Franciscan charism,» wrote the minister-general.

Father Giermek announced as well that «particular attention will be given to formulating suggestions regarding content, modality and programs of mission especially in those cultural contexts where the Church and the order have been recently implanted or are taking their first steps in that direction.»

«We hope that the congress will offer a further opportunity for mutual enrichment, greater knowledge, acceptance and exchange among the various forms of making concrete the meta-cultural values of Conventual Franciscanism,» he added.

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