The 24th day of Chapter began as usual with prayer, during which the recently deceased friar Gil Wohler (of the Province of St. John the Baptist, Cincinnati, U.S.A.) was remembered.
The Secretary General of the Chapter congratulated Br. Denis Vavrek and Br. Mario Vaccari on their election to the Finance Committee of the General Chapter and he led the assembly in the process of the approval of minutes for sessions 13 to 20.
The study of the First Draft of the Final Document of the General Chapter was central to the day’s work. A commission of experts had drawn up the document – Br. Dominic MONTI (New York), Br. Cesare VAIANI (Milan) and Br. Frédéric MANNS (Jerusalem). Each of the experts presented and explained a particular section of the Document and they also spoke about the method followed in the writing of the document.
Following the presentation there was a very lively discussion of the merits of the Document in the assembly. Some changes were suggested, in particular to give the final document a more joyful and hope-filled tone, one which would express our confidence in the Franciscan charism.
Next Br. Julio BUNADER presented a programme for future cooperation between the four branches of the First Order, and with the entire Franciscan Family. He spoke of the work that had already been done and told the assembly about plans for the 800th Anniversary of the Portiuncula Indulgence which will be celebrated in common by the Franciscan Family.
The first afternoon session was spent by some of the friars in personal study and by others in group work on the proposals. The second session was held in the hall and involved the presentation by the Proposals Committee of their work so far. They hope to finish the work of refining the Chapter Proposals later tonight.
Having completed the work in the hall the friars set off for one of the most anticipated liturgical and social moments of the General Chapter. The destination was the Sacro Convento (the monumental Friary of the OFM Conventual friars attached to the Basilica of St Francis in Assisi). Vespers was celebrated around the tomb of St. Francis and the presider was the Custos, Br. Mauro Gambetti OFMConv, who spoke about the essential features of the Franciscan vocation. Starting with passages from the Testament of St. Francis, he invited the friars (OFMs and OFMConvs) to journey together as Franciscan Brothers, in Assisi and throughout the world – never seeking to be the first, but content to be the least. United we can put all we are and all we have at the service of the world.
The shared meal was a sign of the true fraternity and shared journey which we hope to see more and more of in the future.