In one of his first appointments in the Roman Curia, Pope Francis today appointed General Minister Jose Rodriguez Carballo, OFM, to become Secretary of the Congregation of Religious. He will also be ordained as a bishop on May 18 in the Basilica of Santiago de Compostela in Spain. We are very proud of our brother, Fr. Jose, on his appointment. Congratulations Br. Jose!! Below is Br. Jose’s letter to all the brothers of the Order upon his appointment by the Holy Father:
Dear Brothers: The Lord give you peace!
When this letter reaches you will already have received my appointment as Secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, by His Holiness Pope Francis. I want, right now, to share some feelings with you, my dear brothers.
The first feeling of immense gratitude goes to the Father of mercies for the kindness shown to me over the years. Since He first chose me in my mother’s womb and called me. He gave me the gift of parents, Angel and Celia, who not only gave me life, but also an education in faith, which meant that, from a young age, I felt called to the priesthood and Franciscan life and was allowed to respond with great enthusiasm and generosity to the call. They worked by example and love for the Lord, and always supported me in this way and were real trainers in following Christ. They were joined by my sister, my brother and my nephews, to whom I owe so much in my life, and Franciscan priests. Later, from the age of ten and a half, the Lord gave me Franciscan brothers who welcomed me and fashioned me, first in my home Province of Santiago de Compostela, and then in the Holy Land. The brothers of my Province showed me their trust to place me in offices of great responsibility, especially in the field of education and government, then the brothers of the Order would do likewise, electing me as Definitor, Secretary General for Formation and Studies, and Minister General. And all this time I felt the hand of God protecting me and the confidence of the brothers who came, despite my weaknesses. Therefore I will continue to thank the Lord for His goodness and mercy to me.
A special thanks to the brothers I hope I have formed, many of them in the Father’s house, and those with whom I have shared responsibilities of animation and government, first in my province and then in the Order. Thank you, dear brother Giacomo Bini by your closeness and friendship during these years. From you I learned so much! Thank you brothers Definitors, both during my first and second term of service as a Minister. With you it was not difficult work. You have always been sympathetic to my limitations and always helped me. Thanks to my private secretaries, mainly Fr Francisco Javier Arellano, faithful brother and collaborator, and the brothers of the General Curia, without whom it would have been impossible to animate and govern the Fraternity. Thanks to you all brothers of the Order. With you I have suffered and I have shared joy. With you I shouldered the hardships and joys of life. What a relief for me knowing that I was accompanied by the almost 15,000 brothers of the Order! I hope there has been much that I have given in the past years as Minister and Secretary for Formation and Studies, but certainly much, much more, that I received from you. Thank you so much! You have been for me a great gift, a great gift! Now that temporarily I separate myself from you, I beg you, kissing your feet, continue to be a support and blessing me with your prayers and with your gift of brotherhood and friendship.
With Thanksgiving I recognize my limitations. If true, and it is, that to whom much is given much will be required, at the moment I feel stronger than ever the weight of my weaknesses, so I apologize. First to God, who will judge me and know me better than I know myself, and then to you, my dear brothers. Forgive as many times you may have offended. Putting my life in the hands of the Lord I can assure you I never wanted favors and I never wanted to fall into favoritism. If humility is truth, I can assure you, with great humility, always and at all times I have wanted only the good of the Order, without thinking about myself. Also I confess that I have always tried to do myself what I have asked you to do.
Right now I feel in my heart divided feelings: joy and sadness. Joy for the Lord is trusting me and for the Holy Father, my “Lord Pope” Francis, I feel a great responsibility to serve the religious and consecrated life, also sign of his confidence in me and in the Order. Sadness because I miss you, my dear brothers. I am going to miss your company in prayer, at recreation, at meals, at all times. I will miss your wise counsel and your outstretched hand in need. I will miss you … I’ll keep working for the life I love, because it is mine: religious life and, therefore, also for the Franciscan life. Consider me at your service.
My episcopal ordination is scheduled for May 18, the eve of Pentecost. It will be in Santiago de Compostela, by his Eminence Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State of His Holiness. I wish that day to have you all with me physically. I know that’s not possible. So I ask a remembrance in the Eucharist and in your prayers. Pray for me as I pray for you.
This is my last letter signed as your minister and servant. With that feeling, and with deep emotion, I bless you in the Seraphic Father.
Brother José Rodríguez Carballo, OFM
Minister General, OFM