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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Holy Name Province Provincial Chapter

  I'm writing on Sunday, January 2, from Margate, NJ on the way to our provincial chapter in Cambridge, MD. Several of you who saw my schedule understandably asked, "What's a provincial chapter?"  With that in mind I thought I'd answer that question.

 In our order, and in most orders of men as well as women, the chapter is a periodic gathering of members to elect leaders and to make important decisions. We Franciscans have a general chapter every six years to elect the minister general and his council and to formulate policies for the whole order.  This gathering is attended by the outgoing council and the provincials of each province of the world.  In the provinces we meet every three years.  At one time only the top leaders went to the chapter.  In recent years there has been a democratization process in most provinces.  In the case of Holy Name Province, to which I belong, all of us friars are delegates and expected to attend unless there is a good reason.

   This year our provincial minister, John O'Connor, having completed a 6 year term, can be re-elected for three more.  We also elect his vicar (vice-provincial) and a 6 member council for three years.  Perhaps even more important than the elections these days are decisions that we make about the future.  Like most religious we are getting smaller and have to make some tough decisions regarding use of personnel. In doing this we try to move forward by setting criteria as to how we do this based on the priorities of living our Franciscan life. There will be some strong debate but I'm sure we will live this gathering with a lot of hope and a clearer sense of where we're going.

   Our chapter runs from Mon.,evening, January 3, to Friday, January 7 at Noontime.   Please keep us in prayer and ask the Holy Spirit to guide us.

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