Minister General, Michael Perry, with Friar Pepo, missionary in Brazil
In the Franciscan centre of Punchana in the city of Iquitos (Peru), a meeting of the Missionary Franciscan Family in the Amazon took place, June 2-6. Convened by the Minister General, Michael Perry, OFM, the assembly was made up of about 50 friars and sisters, namely, the Friars Minor, Capuchin nuns, and lay people. They all came from different localities of the boundless Amazon: Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia, and Brazil. In addition to the missionaries, present from these countries were the respective Provincial Ministers and two Franciscans bishops.
The theme of the meeting was The Franciscan Presence in the Amazon, Yesterday, Today, and in the Future, with the subtitle a challenging question: Where is the Spirit Leading our Presence in the Amazon?
The dynamics proposed by the organizers of the meeting were centred on the classic trilogy of seeing, discerning, and implementing, rendered more Franciscan by the terms: contemplate, meditate and restore, with a central focus – to celebrate. The emphasis of these days was always placed on fraternal sharing and listening to each other.
The attention was constantly drawn to the Amazon Project, launched by the General Chapter of the Order in 2009. The Mandate said that the Project must consider: “the humanizing power of the Gospel, the protection and the integrity of creation, and the defense and promotion of indigenous cultures.”
The Minister General, at the concluding celebration, after having giving thanks to the Lord for the presence of evangelical life in this Amazon region, added that “it was said during the meeting that our presence here in the Amazon is like a grain of sand on the beach.Yes, but even a grain of sand can make a difference in the world, for every person who experiences the grace, love, mercy, peace, and hope of God spread by the living experience of the Franciscan missionaries and their collaborators here, in the Amazon. It is the quality of our presence, our closeness to the people, especially the least and marginalized, that makes the Franciscan difference.”