Fraternitas: What happens at the General Chapter?
Br William: That is a good question, especially as many Friars never had the experience of participating in a General Chapter. It lasts almost a month [10th of May – 7th of June] and each week has its own specific character.
Fraternitas: For example?
Br William: The 1st week consists of listening to the Reports of the Minister General and of the Offices of the Curia. This, at the same time, gives the Capitulars the possibility to exchange impressions in different language groups and to know the names of the candidates for the various offices.
Fraternitas: How many language groups will there be?
Br William: The choice is of the Friar Capitulars themselves, but we will try one or two groups for Italian, Spanish, and English speakers, plus single groups for French, Portuguese, Polish, Croatian and, perhaps, some others.
Fraternitas: What happens during the 2nd week?
Br William: That is the week for discussing the Instrumentum Laboris, the document prepared from the suggestions submitted by the Friars of the entire Order. We will also have straw votes for the various offices and the elections.
Fraternitas: When will the election of the Minister General take place?
Br William: According to the present programme, it will take place in the morning of Thursday the 21st of May. Then, there will be the election of the Vicar General on Friday, and the elections of the Definitors on Saturday. In this way we will celebrate the Feast of Pentecost with the new government of the Order in the Porziuncola.
Fraternitas: And after the elections?
Br William: There still remains the patient and demanding work of approving legislation for the Order (e.g., changes to the General Statutes), approving or rejecting the proposals that came from the Friars and Entities before the Chapter and indicating the journey to be made during the next six years.
Fraternitas: Is there a certain rhythm of prayer during the Chapter?
Br William: Yes, of course. We have a Eucharistic Liturgy in common in the Basilica of the Porziuncola for the moments of great importance such as the opening and closing of the Chapter and on Pentecost Sunday. The various language groups will pray together on the ordinary days and will take turns to celebrate Mass in the Chapel of the Porziuncola. Some moments of prayer are scheduled for San Damiano, Santa Chiara and the Basilica of St. Francis.
Fraternitas: And will there be moments of recreation?
Br William: That is never missing from General Chapters. The different national or linguistic groups organise musical events during evening recreation. We have also scheduled a musical concert animated by various Friar musicians and singers. There will also be opportunities for some trips (La Verna, Greccio).
Fraternitas: Will the Friar Capitulars be received by Pope Francis?
Br William: We are pleased that the Holy Father has granted us an audience during the third week of the Chapter. Now we have to organise the hiring of coaches and lunch for 150 guests!
Fraternitas: We wish the members of the Secretariat all the best in their labours!
Br William: Thank you! I also ask all the readers of Fraternitas to pray for a successful outcome to the Chapter.