Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap
From Monday 6 till Friday 10 June I had the joy of celebrating with my Maltese Franciscan Capuchin brothers the Provincial Chapter. This Chapter was the 68th one in the history of the Maltese Capuchin Province of St Paul’s Shipwreck.
As The Constitutions of the Capuchin Friars Minor say: “The provincial chapter in which the members gather in fraternal communion in the name of the whole province is the primary provincial authority” (Article IV, 124). Fr Pio Murat, the General Councilor who was representing the General Minister of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, Fr Mauro Jöhri OFM Cap, presided this Provincial Chapter. The superiors elected as the result of this Chapter are: Fr Martin Micallef OFM Cap was reconfirmed as Provincial Minister for the coming three years, Fr Domnic Mangani OFM Cap, (which was also elected as the Vicar Provincial), Fr Carmelo Aquilina OFM Cap, Fr Raymond Bonnici OFM Cap and Fr Joe Saliba OFM Cap were elected as Provincial Councilors.
The total number of Capuchin brothers in Malta is 72. They are spread into eight friaries, 7 in Malta and 1 in Gozo. The brothers work as hospital Chaplains and in Old People’s Homes. They also give their generous service at the Correctional Facility of Kordin, spiritually accompanying the Malta Police Force as well as the Capuchin Foundation of Suret il-Bniedem for homeless people. Furthermore they have the spiritual care of three Parishes, two at Marsa and one at San Ġwann. For the last 42 years the Maltese Capuchin brothers zealously worked in the very challenging Mission of Kenya. Their hard labour left abundant good fruit. Nowadays there are three Maltese Capuchin brothers and two Bishops working in Kenya.
Locally a number of friars are heavily engaged in preaching ministry, teaching at the University of Malta and doing fruitful pastoral work with immigrants through their Missionary Office at the Floriana Friary. Besides that the Maltese Capuchins are taking care of two publications which are widely read: Dawl Franġiskan and Kliem il-ħajja. Other friars are also engaged in media apostolate, so important for our times that Blessed Paul VI described “the mass media or means of social communications” as “a modern and effective version of the pulpit” (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 45).
Faced with this diversity of people, with their characters and charisms, one naturally joins the Psalmist in praising God for his wonderful deeds! “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! (Psalm133:1).
This Song of Ascents reminds me of what our Seraphic Father, Saint Francis, wrote in his Testament: “The Lord gave me brothers”. Gospel brotherhood is the essence of the Franciscan spirit. But who is the perfect brother? This is how Saint Francis replied:
“A good Friar Minor should imitate the lives and possess the merits of these holy friars: the perfect faith and love of poverty of Brother Bernard; the simplicity and purity of Brother Leo, who was a man of most holy purity; the courtesy of Brother Angelo, who was the first nobleman to enter the Order, and was endowed with all courtesy and kindness; the gracious look and natural good sense of Brother Masseo, together with his noble and devout eloquence; the mind upraised to God, possessed in its highest perfection by Brother Giles; the virtuous and constant prayer of Brother Rufino, who prayed without ceasing, and whose mind was ever fixed on God, whether sleeping or working; the patience of Brother Juniper, who attained the state of perfect patience because he kept the truth of his low estate constantly in mind whose supreme desire was to follow Christ on the way of the Cross; the bodily and spiritual courage of Brother John of Lauds, who in his time had been physically stronger than all men; the charity of Brother Roger, whose whole life and conversation was inspired by fervent charity; the caution of Brother Lucidus, who was unwilling to remain in any place longer than a month, for when he began to like a place, he would at once leave it, saying, ‘Our home is not here, but in heaven’”.
Let us learn from each other’s examples of how to be brothers to one another!