Pope Francis Welcomes Friars

Conventual Franciscan friars from all over the world have been meeting in Italy this past month to elect new leadership, share ideas and experiences, and plan for the future. The 202nd General Chapter concluded with a papal audience at the Vatican.

Pope Francis noted that he was struck by the advice St. Francis gave his brothers: "Preach the Gospel, if necessary also with words:" it is a way of living.

"Gospel is for you, dear brothers, 'rule and life' and your mission is none other than that of being a living Gospel..." The Pope continued his message focusing on fraternity, minority, and peace.

The friars wait for their audience with Pope Francis.

The following is the Address from the Holy Father:

Dear brothers!

I give a warm welcome to you, members of the General Chapter of your Order. I thank the new Minister General, Br. Carlos Trovarelli. I congratulate him and the Definitors General for the trust their brothers have placed in them.

Recently the Holy See approved your Constitutions, renewed in the Extraordinary General Chapter held last summer. To incorporate this revision, you have now discussed and approved the new General Statutes, which touch on essential elements of your fraternal and missionary life, such as formation, interculturality, sharing and transparency in economic management. This job is tiring, but the effort is well spent! Indeed, the Constitutions are the necessary instrument for safeguarding the charismatic heritage of an Institute and ensuring its future transmission. They express the concrete way of following Christ proposed by the Gospel, the absolute rule of life for all consecrated persons and particularly for the followers of Saint Francis of Assisi, who, in their profession, commit themselves to living “according to the form of the holy Gospel” (see Saint Francis, Testament, 14). I am struck by that advice Francis gave to the brothers: “Preach the Gospel, if necessary also with words”: it is a way of living. If every consecrated life “arises from listening to the Word of God and from accepting the Gospel as the norm of life” (Synod of Bishops on the Word of God, Propositio24), the Franciscan life in all its manifestations arises from listening to the holy Gospel, as the Poverello shows us in the Porziuncola when, after hearing the story of the following, he exclaims: “This I want, this I ask, this yearning to do with all my heart!” (Thomas of Celano, Vita Prima, IX, 22).

The Gospel is for you, dear brothers, “rule and life” (Saint Francis, Regula Bullata, I, 1) and your mission is none other than that of being a living Gospel, “a living ‘exegesis’ of God’s word” as Benedict XVI said (Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini, 83). The Gospel must be your handbook. Always listen to it carefully; pray with it; and following the example of Mary, “Virgin made Church” (see Saint Francis, Greeting to the Blessed Virgin Mary, 1), meditate assiduously, so that, by assimilating it, you may conform your life to the life of Christ.

This way of following is characterized, first of all, by fraternity, which Francis considered a gift: “The Lord gave me brothers” (Testament, 14). Fraternity is a gift to be received with gratitude. It is a reality that is always “on the move”, under construction, and therefore asks for the contribution of all, without anyone excluding himself or being excluded; in which there are no “consumers” but only builders (see General Constitution OFMConv, 55, 5). A reality in which we can live out paths of continuous apprenticeship, of openness to the other, of mutual interchange; a welcoming reality, ready and willing to accompany; a reality in which it is possible to take a break from everyday life, to cultivate silence and the contemplative gaze and thus recognize in it the imprint of God; a reality in which you all consider yourself brothers, both ministers and other members of the fraternity; an experience in which everyone is called to love and nurture his brother, just as a mother loves and nurtures her own child (see Saint Francis, Regula non Bullata, IX, 11). I urge you to nurture your fraternity with the spirit of holy prayer and devotion “to which all other temporal things must serve” (Id., Regula Bullata, V, 2). In this way, your fraternal life in community becomes a form of prophecy in the Church and in the world; and it becomes a school of communion, to be exercised always, following the example of Francis, in a relationship of love and obedience with the Pastors.

Another feature of your way of life is minority. I like this a lot: thinking of your minority. This is a difficult choice because it opposes the logic of the world, which seeks success at any cost, wishes to occupy the first places, to be considered as lords. Francis asks you to be minors, following the example of Jesus who did not come to be served but to serve (see Mt 20: 27-28) and Who tells us: “Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all” (Mk 10: 43-44). Let this be your only ambition: to be servants, to serve one another. Having lived like this, your existence will be a prophecy in this world where the ambition of power is a great temptation.

You preach peace. The Franciscan greeting that distinguishes you is “Peace and good unto you!”, “Shalom we tob”, in Hebrew, which we can translate well as reconciliation: reconciliation with oneself, with God, with others and with all creatures, that is, living in harmony: peace that brings you harmony. It is a reconciliation that takes the form of concentric circles, starting from the heart and extending to the universe - but in reality it starts from the heart of God, from the heart of Christ. Reconciliation is the prelude to the peace that Jesus left us (cf. Jn 14: 27). A peace that is not the absence of problems, but that comes with the presence of God within us and which manifests itself in all that we are, do and say. May you be messengers of peace, first of all with life and then with words. May you be instruments of forgiveness and mercy at all times. Your communities are places where mercy is experienced, as Saint Francis asks you in the Letter to a Minister: I wish to know in this way if you love the Lord and me, His servant and yours: that there is not any brother in the world who has sinned – however must he could have sinned – who, after he has looked into your eyes, would ever depart without your mercy, if he is looking for mercy. And if he were not looking for mercy, you would ask him if he wants mercy. And if he would sin a thousand times before your eyes, love him more than me so that you may draw him to the Lord; and always be merciful with brothers such as these” (9-11). There is no peace without reconciliation, without forgiveness, without mercy. Only one who has a reconciled heart can be a “minister” of mercy, a builder of peace.

For all this, an adequate formation is necessary. A formative path that favours in brothers the fullest conformation to Christ. An integral formation, that involves all the dimensions of the person. A personalized and ongoing formation, inasmuch as it is an itinerary that lasts a lifetime. A formation of the heart, that changes our way of thinking, feeling and behaving. A formation in faithfulness, well aware that today we are living in the culture of the temporary, that “for ever” is very difficult and definitive choices are not in fashion. In this context, there is a need for solid formators, experts in listening and in the roads that lead to God, capable of accompanying others on this journey (see Saint John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Vita consecrata, 65-66); formators who know the art of discernment and accompaniment. Only in this way can we contain, at least in part, the haemorrhage of abandonment that afflicts the priestly and consecrated life.

Dear brothers, I impart from the heart my Apostolic Blessing to you and to all the Communities of your Order. I pray for you. And it also comforts me that the Minister General said you will pray for me. Thank you!

Celebrating Our Fathers

As we celebrate Fathers Day on the Feast of the Holy Trinity, let us give thanks and rejoice in our Heavenly Father's creating love, follow in the Son's footsteps, and pray for the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

We pray that the Holy Trinity will pour forth blessings on all of us, but especially today on fathers as they love and serve their families.


On this celebration of Pentecost, let us pray together with St. Francis of Assisi, as he wrote in a letter to all the Friars, just before he died:

Almighty, eternal, just and merciful God,
give us miserable ones
the grace to do for You alone
what we know you want us to do
and always to desire what pleases you.
inwardly cleansed,
interiorly enlightened
and inflamed by the fire of the Holy Spirit,
may we be able to follow
in the footprints of Your beloved Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ,
and, by Your grace alone,
may we make our way to You,
Most High,
Who live and rule
in perfect Trinity and simple Unity,
and are glorified
God almighty,
forever and ever.

Sharing Franciscan Tradition

Sr. Margaret Carney OSF led a presentation to all of our men in formation on the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition. In addition to absorbing her wisdom, the Friars had plenty of time for socializing and recreation, as well as some outings to the natural and cultural resources available in New Mexico. Friars Jaime Zaragoza (pictured above, Province of Our Lady of Consolation) and Roberson Lubin (St. Joseph Cupertino Province) renewed their simple vows during one of the student-led liturgies.

Happy Feast Day

Our Lady of Consolation

On May 24, 1875, a statue of Our Lady of Consolation, newly-arrived from Luxembourg, was carried in procession from the Church of St. Nicholas in Frenchtown, Ohio, to a small church seven miles away in the village of Carey.

The statue of Our Lady of Consolation in 1875.

During this procession, the participants witnessed the first sign of the Blessed Mother's special protection and intercession for pilgrims and for the people of northwest Ohio.

A storm raged as the statue was carried to Carey, and the people could see rain on all sides, yet not a drop fell on the statue nor on anyone in the procession. Once the statue was placed inside old St. Edward Church, the rain soaked the entire crowd outside.

St. Edward Church was later renamed for Our Lady, and has been rebuilt across the street as the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation. For more than a century, the Conventual Franciscan Friars have served the Shrine. In 1926, our Conventual Province was formed, and placed under the protection of Our Lady of Consolation.

On this, her feast day, we ask Our Lady to continue to intercede for us, the brothers of St. Francis of Assisi, those we serve, all those who support our ministries, and the many pilgrims who travel to Carey to visit her Shrine.

Our Lady of Consolation

Ask Sister Podcast

Friar Fr. John Bamman OFM Conv. and Sr. Jenny Zimmerman (vocation director for the Sisters of Notre Dame) were guests on Ask Sister Podcast hosted by Sr. Maxine (on right).

(02:00) From grade school troublemaker to friar

(05:00) Resisting the call to religious life in Defiance, Ohio

(09:40) The many doorways of vocations

(11:00) Finding a home with the Conventual Franciscan Friars

(15:00) Sister Jenny gets a phone call from God

(19:00) “Joyful simplicity” – the spirit of the Sisters of Notre Dame 

(27:00) Spiritual mentoring to help young adults  

(35:00) Listener question:Can people try out religious life before they join?

(38:00) Volunteer experiences as a way to get to know nuns and friars: A Guide to Religious MinistriesCatholic Volunteer Network

(39:30) Listener question: I left the seminary because I didn’t like it, so why can’t I stop thinking about it?

(45:30) What’s the big deal about vocation—why does it matter

(48:00) Listener question: My family doesn’t do church and I don’t know any nuns, so why do I feel like I want to be a nun?

(52:00) The process of becoming a nun or friar

Vocation Directors

For more information about vocations please visit FranciscanS.org

MountFest 2019

Celebrating Mount St. Francis
A Tradition of Serving Spiritual Needs

The fourth annual MountFest, an Experience of Kentuckiana, will be held on Saturday, June 1, from 2pm to 8pm, on the beautiful grounds of Mount St. Francis in southern Indiana.

Admission is free. Browse the art exhibits,  sip a glass of wine or beer, select a snack or a meal from one of the food trucks, and sit back and enjoy the live music including The Todd Hildreth Trio and Bridge 19. New this year, there will be activities for the kids, too. So, come early and spend the day at Mount St. Francis. Everything will be under tents so weather is not a worry.

For more than 100 years, Mount St. Francis has served the spiritual needs of the region’s youth and adults. From the beginning, the Franciscan Friars have been fortunate in the number of neighbors and friends who continue to help support this work. Starting in the 1920s, an annual picnic helped raise money for the retreat programs. In 2015, the traditional picnic was transformed into a celebration of local culture: MountFest.

+Br. Bob Baxter, a Conventual Franciscan Friar, founded the Retreat Assistance Fund to ensure that all who seek to take part in the Mount’s retreat offerings may do so, regardless of their financial circumstances.

Over the past few years, the Retreat Assistance Fund has underwritten retreat fees for area high school students, sponsored overnight retreats for homeless people, and helped others who need financial assistance to attend a retreat where they may experience spiritual enrichment and the beauty of the surrounding 400-acre nature sanctuary. (Read about one of the programs that benefit from this money.)

Mount St. Francis is located at the junction of US Highway 150 and Paoli Pike in Floyds Knobs.

Franciscan International Award 2019

On Thursday, May 9, the 61st Franciscan International Award was presented to Loaves and Fishes of Minnesota, an organization dedicated to providing nutritious meals to anyone in need, in an atmosphere of hospitality at site locations where the need is greatest. Loaves and Fishes began in 1982 with one site each in St. Paul and Minneapolis, and now serves 3,000 healthy meals daily at more than 80 meal outlets. Loaves and Fishes is present in nine Minnesota counties, and is the largest free meal program in the state.

Father Martin Day presented the Award to Loaves and Fishes Executive Director Cathy Maes and Chairman of the Board Jeremy Stiffler.

The Franciscan International Award

Each year the Order of Friars Minor Conventual presents an award to an individual or to an organization committed to serving the Ideals of Christ, especially as proclaimed by St. Francis of Assisi. This Franciscan International Award is presented on behalf of the Conventual Franciscans by Franciscan Retreats and Spirituality Center, Prior Lake, Minnesota.

The Franciscan Order was founded in 1209 as an Order within the Roman Catholic Church by St. Francis of Assisi. St. Francis had many devoted friends and benefactors among the inhabitants of his native Italy. Many of these were especially honored by being awarded honorary membership with the Franciscan Order. So from the very beginning of the Order, individuals who served others in an outstanding way were given a “Franciscan Award” for their acts of charity. That custom endures to the present day and was the basis for reestablishing the Franciscan International Award In 1959. (For more about this award, including a list of past recipients, click here.)

Happy Mother’s Day


Just as carefully as she guided Jesus through his early life, the Blessed Mother watches over all her children. St. Francis of Assisi was devoted to Mary and we who follow in his footsteps continue to call on her intercession as we minister to God's people. In this video, Fr. David Lenz OFM Conv. talks about the Friars' relationship with Mary, and encourages others to recognize the great gift that Jesus gave us when He spoke to St. John from the Cross: "Behold your mother..."

Let us pray for all our mothers. For those who are living that God will give them grace and strength. And for those who have gone before us, that God will welcome them into His eternal, loving embrace.


Statue of Mary at Mount St. Francis

Celebrating Our Brothers

Today we celebrate Religious Brothers Day. But what does that mean?

All Franciscans are friars, from the Italian word for brother. The initials a Franciscan places after his name, OFM, stand for Order of Friars Minor, echoing how St. Francis referred to himself and his followers: minores, or lesser brothers.

Br. Randy Kin OFM Conv. arranges flowers before the altar at the Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation.

Within our extended family of friars, there are men who made the choice to serve as religious brothers, and not to be ordained priests. This puzzles some people. Why go through nearly all the same education and training, and not become a priest?

Before he died Friar Terence Tobin OFM Conv., who served for decades as a priest and missionary in Zambia, answered that question. He said that one day as he was hurrying off to prepare for Mass, he saw a religious brother working on a construction project with a team of local people, laughing and sweating and being with the people.

Two of our Brothers serve as retreat directors; one is a canon lawyer working for an Archdiocese; another works in campus ministry; one is a professor of nursing; one is assigned to live and work in Assisi, welcoming English-speaking pilgrims (while improving his Italian).

The late Br. Jim Fields OFM Conv. founded the Franciscan Kitchen, where hundreds are fed each day.

Decades ago, Br. Jim Fields OFM Conv. founded the Franciscan Kitchen in Louisville, where today more than 400 people will eat a hot, nutritious lunch. And Br. Tony Droll OFM Conv., past 80 now, is still working in Zambia.

We thank God for the gifts bestowed on our brothers, and thank them for the way they use those gifts to bring people closer to God.