Pope Benedict XVI holds an audience with Franciscan friars and members of Franciscan lay groups at Castel Gandolfo, Italy, April 18. CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano, Reuters
Over the Memorial Day holiday, I went to be with the Capuchin Friars in Pittsburgh and to celebrate a convocation on the theme of the 800th anniversary of the Rule of St. Francis. The entire province was there, including some representatives of our men who are in Papua New Guinea and in Puerto Rico. In all, there were around 150 to 200 of us.
St. Francis defines Franciscan life as living the Gospel. The Rule of St. Francis was originally just a few quotes from the Gospel that define our mission and our trust in God’s providence for us.
Francis saw the friars as lesser brothers and that, in some ways, underscores being a universal brother to everyone. The menores were the lower-class people that he wanted the friars to identify with and to announce the good news to -- preaching a Gospel of conversion and inviting people to discipleship.
At the time, it was a very apostolic movement that gave a new way to live religious life, as opposed to in the monastery. The towns were growing and the monasteries were a rural phenomenon. The friars then were able to be in the cities and have the mobility that the Church needed at that moment.
St. Francis called for a General Chapter called Chapter of Mats to be held around Pentecost. He said it should be held at this time because the general of the order should be the Holy Ghost.
Several weeks ago, there was a replication of that experience in Assisi with representatives of the entire Franciscan family gathering together.
There are three branches to that “family”. The original group is the Conventuals, or the “Black Franciscans,” who are today are the least numerous. This is the order St. Maximilian Kolbe belonged to and that, in our archdiocese, runs Our Lady of Czestochowa, the Polish Parish in South Boston.
The second group is the Observants, represented in the archdiocese with the Arch Street Franciscans at St. Anthony Shrine and those at the Province of the Immaculate Conception in the North End.
The Capuchins, my order, is the third group. In the archdiocese, they run Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Jamaica Plain.
Also on this week’s blog:
Ordaining six new priests for Boston
The Catholic Charities’ Annual Gala Dinner