A rare national gathering of the Order of Friars Minor, a group of Franciscan priests and brothers, will take place at Stritch Dec. 10-14. About 75 men are expected to attend.
Members of the Order of Friars Minor seek to live their lives as Saint Francis of Assisi did. The order is made up of three groups, each considered a religious order unto itself: the Observants, or Franciscan friars; the Capuchins; and the Conventual Franciscans. Each lives according to a body of regulations known as The Rule of St. Francis.
Called by Father Jose Carballo, Minister General of the order, the focus of the Stritch gathering will be the future of Franciscan ministry in the United States.
“We acknowledge that our numbers are shrinking, and the purpose of this gathering is to determine how we can better align ourselves for future ministry to the people of God in the United States,” said Father Jim Gannon, OFM, a member of the order and Stritch’s vice president for mission and identity. “It’s a very positive conversation, one that will help us look to the future.”
The gathering begins with a welcome dinner at 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 10 and concludes at noon on Friday, Dec. 14.
Stritch President Dr. James Loftus will welcome the friars at their opening dinner, to which University administrators, bishops from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, and the leadership of the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi are invited.
Members of the Stritch community are welcome to join the friars all week at morning prayer and evening Mass in the St. Francis of Assisi Chapel. Morning prayer will take place at 9 a.m. and Mass will be at 5 p.m. On Wednesday, Dec. 12, Mass will take place at 9 a.m. only. Regularly scheduled 12:25 Masses will still take place during this week.
Prior to the American-focused gathering of friars, 20 members of the order from Canada, England, Ireland, Malta, Australia and Lithuania will also join together for an international meeting at Stritch, from Dec. 7-9.
“I encourage the entire Stritch community to extend a warm welcome to all our Franciscan brothers, and to pray for a fruitful discussion about the road ahead of them as they seek to share their faith,” said Loftus. “It’s an honor to have them in our midst, and to be able to share in their commitment to the path of Francis and Clare.”