Every three years all the Franciscan friars of a given province (which is the geographic division of each of the Franciscan communities around the world) gather together for several days of business and fraternal meetings called a Chapter. Today marks the first day of Holy Name Province’s 2011 Provincial Chapter.
It is an important chapter because, in addition to the manifold issues and proposals that have to be addressed during the subsequent days and the committee reports that have to be presented, it is also an election Chapter. The Minister Provincial (the community’s superior) and the Provincial Council (six friars who assist the Provincial in the community’s administration) will be elected this week.
Friars have traveled from all over the world to be here. According to our Provincial statutes, which were updated at the last chapter, every friar of the province has to attend. It is only by exception and with the General Visitator’s (the representative of the Minister General in Rome who runs the chapter and is the highest authority of the Order for the meeting) permission that someone is permitted to not attend.
This means that friars are able to reconnect with friars that they may not have seen in many years. Friars who are in missionary assignments in South America, Asia or Africa will return for the event, this happens to include my classmate Steve DeWitt (the author of A Franciscan Abroad) who is spending this year split between Bolivia and Peru. It will be good to catch up with a number of my brother friars this week.
In anticipation of the work, discussions and prayer ahead, I have included below a prayer of the Holy Spirit for a Chapter. I ask that you keep us Franciscan friars in your prayers as we gather together this week.
Peace and good!
Prayer of Holy Spirit for Chapter
We ask you to send your Spirit of Truth, the Comforter,
as we prepare to Gather in Chapter.
Help and guide us into the future,
so that we may continue to preach your Word,
to do your work
and to follow more closely
in the footsteps of our father, Francis,
who never doubted your loving care.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. AMEN.