The 2015 General Chapter began with the celebration of the Eucharist in the Basilica of the Portiuncula. Before Mass the Chapter participants gathered in the piazza in front of the basilica and listened to a passage from the life of St Francis by Thomas of Celano. They then entered the basilica in procession and,pausing in front of the tiny church of the Portiuncula, they reverenced the book of the Gospels. The Minister General, Br. Michael Perry, then presided at Mass along with Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, the cardinal delegated by the Holy Father to be with the friars during this Chapter. Br. Julio César Bunader, Vicar General and Br Aidan McGrath, Secretary General of the Order were the principal concelebrants.
During the first morning session, the Minister General officially opened the Chapter and invited all the friars to give thanks for the gift of our brothers. The Cardinal Delegate also greeted the Friars, conveying the closeness of the Pope to the Chapter and his invitation to continue the renewal of the life and mission of the Order in the light of Vatican II.
The rest of the day, in line with the wishes of the General Definitory, was dedicated to reflection and prayer.
The Minister General of the Capuchins, Br Mauro Jöhri OFMCap, spoke of what it means to be “Brothers and Minors” today. He offered many points for reflection on what is meant by Franciscan identity, emphasizing the importance of fraternal life. Life as brothers needs to be lived with an attitude of mercy – and indeed the challenges faced by the Chapter should be approached in this way too.
The afternoon session opened with greetings from the Provincial Minister of the Seraphic Province (Assisi), who welcomed the members of the Chapter in the name of all the Friars of the Province. The afternoon then continued with a period of Lectio Divina, led by Fr. Jeremiáš Kvaka, Minister of the Province of the Most Holy Saviour in Slovakia. The Gospel passage chosen was that of the “calming of the storm” (Mk 4:35- 41). Lectio was followed by a time devoted to Eucharistic adoration, which ended with the celebration of Vespers in the different language groups.
The first day of the General Chapter in 2015 ended with a time of recreation, during which the friars joyfully appreciated the variety of gifts shared by friars from so many different parts of the world.
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Opening of the Chapter – Friars in Main Square
Opening of the Chapter – Procession in the Basilica
Opening of the Chapter – Holy Mass
MG: Opening of the Chapter
Hi-Res Group Photo