July 27-28, 2019

Jul 22, 2019

Across the United States, there are seven OFM Franciscan Provinces. Our Province is under the patronage of St. John the Baptist, and we are headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. A year or so ago, six of these Provinces, including our Province, made the decision to merge and become one Province. (Technically the decision was to ask our general (worldwide) leadership in Rome to dissolve each province and simultaneously create one new Province, since only they can create a province. We know they will do this, since they have been supporting the process from the beginning of the discussions.) We are now in the demanding and difficult process of bringing this new province to birth, however the formal declaration of union will probably not take place until 2023. We think this union will make us stronger and more effective in our witness. There are numerous committees and meetings to discern best practices and policies. We recognize that we are “restructuring,” but we also want the process to “revitalize” our fraternal life.

One of the major tasks is for the friars of these six provinces to get to know one another. This week about 400 friars from these six provinces will meet at a “Chapter of Mats” in Denver. We call such meetings “Chapters of Mats” because “chapter” is the word used for gatherings and meetings in religious communities. We use “mats” because at one of the first such gatherings of friars during the lifetime of St. Francis the friars all slept on mats. (I think we will have beds this time, thanks be to God.) Fr. Jeff, Br. Phil, and Br. Eric will be attending this Chapter July 29-August 2.  Fr. Jeremy and Br. Ed will hold the fort down here. Please keep us and this process in your prayer.

Fr. Jeff