April 24-28, 2017: Ordinary Custodial Chapter in our Provincial Custody,
Twenty-five solemnly professed Brazilian friars convened at Casa Abel overlooking Lake Araruama. The Assistant General for Latin America was on hand and since our Minister General was unable to attend, the Very Reverend Fr. James McCurry, OFM Conv. (Minister Provincial) presided. Here are a few thoughts and photos from Friar James:
The first thing that would strike you in our Brazilian Custody is the youthfulness of its friars. The median age of the solemnly professed is 45. Within the last quadrennium there were 5 ordinations to the Holy Priesthood. There are nine men currently in formation.
… In the Rio Custody, as in most of the jurisdictions of the Order, the Custos proposes one-by-one the names of the friars whom he would like the Chapter to elect to the Definitory. Of the four newly-elected Definitors, two come from the new generation of friars – less than five years solemnly professed.
…Their final session, which discussed and approved their “Quadrennial Evaluation Document,” evidenced more vitality and energy than any closing session of a Chapter that I have ever witnessed. … Perhaps it was our Brazilian “churrasco” the previous night which deserves some of the credit for the Chapter’s closing exuberance. A “churrasco” is the uniquely Brazilian barbecue of meats galore, at which one must wave a red flag to indicate to the waiter that he is totally surfeited. Even one of the eldest friars, who assiduously counted and carried his medicinal tablets to every Chapter session, found himself so rejuvenated at the “churrasco” that he abandoned his walking stick!
Early on the final morning of the Chapter, we all journeyed to the opposite side of Lake Araruama for Mass. The Lake resembles the Sea of Galilee, with its old wooden fishing boats. Unlike the Apostles, however, we traveled by cars not boats. The Parish of Our Lady of Aparecida welcomed us royally to their simple chapel, which honours the national patroness of Brazil. This year marks the 300th anniversary of Our Lady of Aparecida, whose original sanctuary is near Sao Paulo. At the end of the Mass, we all prayed together the special “Prayer of Consecration” to Our Lady of Aparecida composed by the Brazilian Bishops’ Conference. Then the parishioners treated us to “coffee” (a sumptuous breakfast!) in the parish social club. [All parishes in Brazil have a “social club”]
On a final note, let me say that the friars of the Custody effusively expressed loving appreciation to their Mother Province of Our Lady of the Angels in the USA, and its predecessor founder, the former Immaculate Conception Province. A warm fraternal rapport continues to thrive – in testimony to the way in which the spirit of St. Francis knows no national or cultural boundaries. It would be easier to put stockings on all the octopodes of the sea than to stifle the seraphic ethos of “Pax e Bem” which characterizes our Rio Custody! Gracas a Deus!
30th April 2017