OFM Franciscans - India

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GENERAL CHAPTER 2021 Renewing Our Vision, Embracing Our Future

The General Chapter was a wonderful experience for me and I enjoyed every bit of my stay during these two weeks. We were 118 Capitulars and about 15 friars as officials and helpers. There were 2 friar Medical Doctors to attend to the friars 24/7.

Quarantine:
I had to travel to Rome accordingly so as to complete 10 days of quarantine. While there was everything ready for quarantine in Collegio San Lorenzo, I was taken to a hotel for quarantine, taken care by the state for free. This was a unique experience. I was confined to the room! Balcony was the only door way to outside world that included the glorious Dome of St. Peters at Vatican. Brother Arokiam John was a great blessing for me. He brought me the great succour in terms of providing me the Mass Kit so I could celebrate the Mass in the room. He brought me also fruits and nuts to eat and of course the “gelato” (Italian Icecream). We were conversing with each other, he from the ground floor and me from the second floor of the hotel! It was all free wireless!

Arrival for Chapter:
In the evening on 3rd July 2021, I was allowed to leave the hotel after I completed the RT-PCR test report. As I reached the venue, I was taken for Antigen Test immediately despite having test results. This was the SOP for all those who arrived including of those who arrived from the Curia. The friar doctors did a wonderful job to help us calm down and take the test and wait for the results patiently, hoping against all hopes, that it would always be negative. I joined for the evening plenary session at once where I was welcomed by the General secretary.

The Chapter:
The Chapter itself lasted for 2 weeks. The participants were provided with the electronic tablets to facilitate all the reports and communications. These tablets would be collected at the end and sent to Africa for mission. The first week saw the presentation of the reports of the Minister General, the different Secretariats and the General Economo. The Minister General presented the report in 3 different hours, and after every hour there was a buzz session in which the participants would form a group of 3 or 4 and discuss among themselves on the report and then come up with some questions and clarifications. The Minister General took up all these questions and clarified the necessary aspects. It was the same with the other reports, too.

The Special Speakers:
On 4th July, Sunday, Archbishop Accrocca who is specialized in Franciscanism delivered a talk on the theme based on the Franciscan sources. He was both a great learner and speaker. We also had Cardinal Tagle to give us the inside views of the Church and the challenges for Franciscans today. In his very unique style of communication, Cardinal Tagle touched the hearts of all.

The Election of the New General and team:
The election of the new General Team was another great experience for us participants. The friars were asked to discuss the names of friars who could be elected to these offices in the respective conferences. After the 2 straw ballots, the final election took place in the presence of the Cardinal, the delegate appointed by the Pope. Soon after the election, we all went to the chapel where the ceremony of oath taking for the Minister General took place. This was certainly a very exciting moment as we could see several friars with their mobile phones trying to take pictures of this event. The election of the Vicar and the Definitors was followed in a similar fashion. Five were elected in absentia and of the Eight Definitors, only one is a provincial.

The Special Dinners and Outings:
There were three special dinners organized to celebrate the different moments of the Chapter. The first was in the Chapter venue itself. The second was after the vespers celebrated in Basilica of St. John Lateran. The third was hosted by ‘Hotel Cantico’. In fact, because of the Covid restrictions, these are the only 2 outings we all enjoyed.

Final Goodbyes:
Two weeks of stay together was a great time to catch up with all our brothers from all over the world. It was a time to share, if not in detail, in short, the life of provinces. I could meet individually some provincials and present them the life of our friars in India. I even invited the whole assembly to visit India and Asia for greater experience of the life of friars and the people. I honored the outgoing Minister General with a shawl and so also the new Minister General. Before leaving Rome, I managed to get some time from the Minister General for a personal meeting and also with brother Michael Perry, the outgoing Minister General and the newly elected Definitor for Asia-Oceania, brother John Wong. They all have greeted our friars and have thanked in turn for all the services rendered by us as I had explained to them during the meeting. We shall look forward to the visits of the newly elected leaders as and when the situation gets better.

Short pilgrimage to Portiuncula and La Verna:
I was fortunate to go to Portiuncula soon after the Chapter. Brother Andrea the Secretary of the Umbria Province took me by his car. I had to deposit my luggage with our brother Arokiam John at Antonianum before I left. That evening in Portuincula, we had the special vespers celebrated by the new Minister General and the Vicar. We were warmly welcomed and treated fraternally by the Guardian and the Custos of Portiuncula and also by the Provincial. The community offered a special supper followed by cake cutting. The provincial then offered us ‘gelato’ in his office. The next day morning, we went up to the Basilica and offered mass at the tomb of St. Francis which was a special grace for us. The Conventual friars were very happy to welcome the new Minister General and Vicar.

Soon after the mass, I left for La Verna. Brother Andrea was kind enough to drive me till the community. This was my first visit and most dreamed of. The 2 days of my stay was a very special blessing indeed. The whole atmosphere there thrilled me and brought wonderful memories of our father Francis and all his companions and hundreds of friars who lived here. The community was so welcoming. I took the chance to meet the novices together with their master and talked to them about our friars in India. They also had many questions about the Chapter and our life in India. It was certainly an enriching experience.

Final journey home:
The stay in Rome won’t be complete whiteout a visit to the Church of Maria Maggiore and also St. John Lateran. But I could not make it to Vatican. What is most missing throughout is the visit to Pope. My dream to meet him hasn’t come true still and missed a few occasions already. The final requirement to travel back was RT-PCR test and when I landed in Bangalore, I had to go for another RT-PCR test. Both the tests were to be paid for and they were expensive. I thank God for this great experience and looking forward to live this experience in my life. Thanks to all the brothers who prayed for the Chapter and all those benefactors who provided for us!

Br. Praveen Henry D Souza
Minister Provincial

 

ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI

ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI

ST. FRANCIS

ST. FRANCIS

FRIARS' BIRTHDAY (October)

Date

Name of the Friars

Events

Year

04

St.Francis of Assisi

Robin Lakra

Pratap Reddy Salibindla

Arulsamy A.

Thomas Joseph

Bobby V.T.

Johnny Anthony

Athanasius Xaxa

Leos Ekka

Solemnity

Birth

Solemn Vows

Solemn Vows

Solemn Vows

Solemn Vows

Solemn Vows

Solemn Vows

Solemn Vows


1974

1988

1988

1988

1988

1989

1991

1991

06

Salim Joseph

Babu Jose Pamplany

James N.

Trevor D’ Souza

Malom - Noatoli

+ George Muthaiah

Solemn Vows

Solemn Vows

Solemn Vows

Solemn Vows

Arrival

Home

1991

1991

1991

1991

1995

2002

08

North Guwahati

Salvador D’ Souza

Arrival

Ordination

1999

2011

10

+ Gerald D’ Souza

Home

2013

14

+ Bosco Jayaraj

Tony D’ Souza

Home

Ordination

1970

1990

15

Joy Sebastian

Prasad Rao K.

Birth

Birth

1972

1990

19

Provincialate

Marius Dahanga

Blessing

Birth

1998

1992

21

+ Basil Devasagayam

Arockiasamy P.

Eliyas Reddy

Home

Birth

Birth

1965

1970

1995

26

Gerald Lobo

Birth

1951

27

+ Paschal Lobo

Jose Palimattom

Benjamin Jojo

Anil Xalxo

Thumma Ranjith Kumar Reddy

Home

Birth

Birth

Birth

Birth

1956

1967

1975

1979

1988

28

Teiborlang Wartde

Birth

1987

30

Austin Francis

Birth

1972

30

Punitha Anthoniar Illam - Madurai

Blessing

1994

31

Manish Ekka

Birth

1993