Happy Memorial Day weekend to all, the unofficial beginning of summer, and a day on Monday in which we remember those who have gone before us in this life and in particular those who have served in the military, with faith that we will one day see those people again in the kingdom.
On Tuesday of this week we friars will be traveling to Siena College near Albany, NY for what is called in the Franciscan world an “extraordinary chapter” – it’s a gathering of the friars of Holy Name Province for a vote on whether we want to merge with five other provinces in the United States.
Some background: there are seven provinces of Franciscan friars in the United States, and out of those seven, six are gathering on Wednesday, May 30 to decide whether to merge those six into one U.S. province. Why is this? The main reason is to combine and share resources; Holy Name Province, the province of which we friars are a part, currently has around 280 or so friars and our province is the largest of all the U.S. provinces. Our average age is around 70. And so there have been ongoing discussions over the past several years about combining provinces into one single U.S. province. With one province, there would only need to be one formation program, one vocation office, one provincial administration. The vote on May 30 is to decide whether to go ahead with the process; if any of the six voting provinces votes against a merger, the process is scrapped and we start over again.
If the provinces vote yes to go ahead with the merger, it would take several years for the details to be worked out. We friars have been praying a chapter prayer every evening, and part of it reads “Help us become Franciscans for our time, living and proclaiming the Gospel.” We continue to pray that the Spirit guide our discussions going forward.
We will return from the chapter with a postulant – an inquirer into the life of the friars – named Steven Young, who will be with us for a week for a kind of mini internship before he begins his novitiate year in California later in the summer.