[ciofs-en] News , June the second 2005
C I O F S LIST
SFO International Council - Weekly edition
Volume: 11 - N. 22 - 2005 - June - I
From: CIOFS Bulletin, 2005, N. 8
The Tsunami Tragedy in Southeast Asia
In memoriam: Marianne Powell
Chapters and Visits
The tsunami tragedy in Southeast Asia
The CIOFS Presidency received direct news about the situation of Secular Franciscans in the countries devastated by the tsunami.
In Malaysia, where the devastation is nowhere near the one in Aceh or Sri Lanka or even Thailand, all our brothers and sisters (including the religious Franciscan brothers and sisters) were safe with all their families, and also all their goods, which did not suffer any damage. The Malaysian SFO, at the regional and local levels, has not started its own specific fund-raising activities but has contributed to the Tsunami Fund. Every Secular Franciscan is now involved in some project activated by the government authorities or by the Church within the Fund.
From India, the national Minister reported that he has visited some of the Catholic villages in the Kanyakumari District, where he was able to personally witness the agony of the people and the irreparable loss of human life and material goods. They are all our brothers and sisters, who were always very poor and have lived precariously. The wave has erased two villages completely and many more were badly damaged, with their homes destroyed and their belongings lost, such as fishing boats, nets, catamarans, etc. Now people live in refugee camps: here they will remain many months, perhaps years, until they can recover their mental balance and overcome the loss of all their goods.
In memoriam: Marianne Powell
On 22 December 2004, following a short illness due to biliary cancer, Marianne Powell, OFS, former member of the Presidency Council of CIOFS, passed away.
Marianne was born in Denmark on 4 November 1939, the second of four children, to Lutheran parents. Her journey into the Catholic Church and the Franciscan Family began with two inspiring events in her young life. Firstly, she came to share her fathers love of Gregorian chanting, listening with him to recordings from Solesmes monastery. Then, when she was about 14 years old he gave her a picture of St Francis and a copy of the Canticle of the Creatures to read.
She was received into the Catholic Church in 1979, professed the Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order in 1981 and in the same year finished her doctorate, for which her mother gave her a present of a trip to Assisi. On that visit, one of more than thirty to come, she was invited to attend the General Chapter in 1982 as an observer. For Marianne this was a life-changing experience because she realised how the wide spectrum of the Franciscan charism united her to brothers and sisters all over the world; she described it as being like an explosion to my vision about what it meant to be a Franciscan. Returning home she energetically set about building up the SFO in Denmark.
Representing the Scandinavian countries, Marianne attended the General Chapter of 1985, joining the English-speaking group. In 1990 she was elected Presidency Councillor for that group and represented the SFO on the International Inter-Franciscan Justice and Peace Commission; the Board of the CCFMC in Bonn; and Franciscan International, initially helping to formulate their charter and later supporting their work as a member of the European Executive.
In the early 1990s Marianne gave up her career as a University Lecturer, which she had pursued whilst at the same time being a wife and the mother of two daughters, to work for the Catholic Church in Denmark, making catechetical programmes for children and adult formation. She used her lecturing skills in an extensive programme of talks to various groups, including the Danish Folk University and on Danish radio. In 1999 she completed the translation into Danish of the Writings of St Francis, (Frans af Assis Skrifter) a mammoth task which she worked on for several years with Hubert Hodzelmans, OFM, a Friar of the Dutch Province. She also undertook much translation work and wrote many articles, mainly for formation.
Marianne was delegated to preside at National Elective Chapters and carry out Fraternal visits in many European countries and in North America. To these she brought her knowledge, expertise, wisdom, and gentle good humour. She was a great formator and communicator, always quick to encourage. Many National Councils have been inspired and invigorated by her presence.
Her illness in 2001 put an end to her active working life but she was able to attend the 2002 Chapter in Rome to bring to a close two six year terms in office.
Marianne leaves two married daughters and five grandchildren.
Belarus From February 4-6, 2005, a formation seminar was held for the emerging National Fraternity of Belarus which has now 430 professed Secular Franciscans for a total of 50 local Fraternities, assisted by all three branches of the First Order.
The seminar is the result of a project of the CIOFS Presidency, coordinated by Wilhelmina Visser, in collaboration with the National Council of the SFO Fraternity in Poland.
Eighteen people were present from Belarus, guided by the Minister of the provisional national Council, Maria Etol, and by the national Assistant, Brother Valeriano OFMConv.
The CIOFS Presidency was represented by Benedetto Lino, (substituting Wilhelmina, who recently had a serious traffic accident), and by Brother Ivan Matic OFM, General Assistant.
Reports were presented by several brothers, by the National Minister of Poland, Joanna Berlowska, and by the three national Assistants from Poland as well as other members of the SFO Council in Poland.
The Belarus sisters participated with extreme attention and offered a splendid example of great dedication, devotion, and testimonial of a living faith.
Certainly most notable was the kind and efficient hospitality of the brothers and sisters of Polands SFO and of the Friars Assistants from the three Obediences. The collaboration and dedication contributed much to the success of the seminar, and the humble and generous service offered in the smallest ways (volunteer SFO sisters who cooked and took care of every need) gave an example to be praised and imitated -- an alive fraternity supporting each others needs. The seminar took place in the Spirituality Centre of the Friars Minor of Warsaw to whose rector, Brother Zenone, the Presidency sends its many thanks.
Italy The parliament is examining a legislative measure to dedicate October 4, the feast day of St. Francis, to peace and brotherhood and dialogue among those belonging to different cultures and religions. On this special day, the fourth of October of every year, there will be organised, especially in schools, ceremonies, initiatives and meetings dedicated to universal values which express the Saint, patron of Italy. The anniversary will represent an encounter of all the religious confessions and an occasion to speak about the South of the world. It would be desirable that even in other parts of the world, secular Franciscans would promote the same initiatives in their own countries.
Chapters and Visits
Kenya From December 9-12, 2004, next to St. Brigits Chapel in Nairobi, the National Elective Chapter of the SFO in Kenya was held. Thirty delegates from local fraternities participated in the Chapter, with the councils of the five regional fraternities, and the members of the present National Council. Brother Ivan Matic OFM represented the Conference of General Assistants, and Theresa Kajogo was delegated by the General Minister.
During the opening session, Brother Ivan presented the latest documents of the CIOFS Presidency and the SFO priorities for the next six years. In his presentations he explained the Statutes for spiritual and pastoral assistance to the SFO and the new document for the Franciscan Youth: YouFra An itinerary of Franciscan vocation. The Chapter sessions continued with the Report of the outgoing Council. Workgroups followed to better reflect on the situation of the national Fraternity and the problems that were explained by the Council.
The second day of the Chapter was dedicated to the formation of the participants through reflective study of various themes of Franciscan spirituality. On the third day the new national Council was elected. Patrick Machara was elected National Minister; Francis Kamau was elected International Councilor for Kenya.
Mauritius - December 15-21, 2004, Fr. Ivan Matic, OFM, General Assistant of the SFO, visited the Islands of Mauritius for the celebration of the national elective Chapter of the SFO. During his stay in Mauritius he was a guest of the community of the Friars of Beau Bassin, where he met Fr. René Coutagne, OFM, National Assistant for the SFO, and Fr. Krisnah Ramsamy, OFM, Definitor of St. Francis Province and Assistant to various local fraternities. On December 16 Fr. Ivan met with the members of the national Council and on that occasion had the opportunity to witness the reality of the SFO and the YouFra. On December 17 Fr. Ivan, Fr. René, and Fr. Krisnah, together with Fr. Gianni Losio, an Italian missionary in Mauritius, met with the Bishop of the Diocese of Mauritius, Mons. Maurice Piat, with whom they shared information about the life and the presence of Secular Franciscans in Mauritius. On December 18 the national Elective Chapter of the Fraternity of Mauritius was celebrated. The Chapter was chaired by Salesio Njuki, member of the Kenya SFO, delegated by the General Minister of the SFO, Encarnación del Pozo. Hervé Sylva was elected national Minister and International Councilor. After the Chapter, Salesio and Fr. Ivan, accompanied of Fr. René e Fr. Krisnah, visited another community of Friars that reside in Chemin Grenier and visited also some of the families of Secular Franciscans.
The reality of the Secular Franciscans in Mauritius is wonderful, and offers an example of how to be active and attractive as a SFO Fraternity. Many young families are part of the SFO and many others are in initial formation. There is great interest in Franciscan spirituality among the laity. At the moment there are 10 canonically established fraternities, and ten more are in formation. Many fraternities lack a Spiritual Assistant, because the only Assistants are Fr. René e Fr. Krisnah, but of great help, interest, and collaboration is the contribution of the sisters Franciscan Missionaries of Mary as many of them offer also spiritual assistance to the Secular Franciscans. Another beautiful reality is the great interest by the young in the Franciscan spirituality, an interest that shows itself in the birth and growth of groups of Franciscan Youth and Franciscan Children.=============Fraternally Richard, ofs
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