May the Lord Give You His Peace

It is a great joy and an honor for me to write to you and connect with dear friends who
deeply share our values, and who are strongly committed to the Franciscan Missions.
You have already shown a genuine care for the poorest in our world; you wish the Good
News to be proclaimed; and you support the training and education of young men as they
follow their vocation to become Franciscan brothers and priests. These young friars will one day
become teachers, catechists, assistants, and pastors in local Catholic parishes. They will serve in
different fields; as care givers to the aged and poor, as missionaries, or as leaders in the
Franciscan Order and in the Church. In fact, since the election of Pope Francis, more than
twenty-five Franciscans have been called by the Holy Father to serve as Bishops in Africa, Asia,
Latin America, and Eastern Europe.

During a recent visit to Zambia, Kenya, and South Africa, I witnessed firsthand the
wonderful outpouring of God’s grace on young people, as well as on the Franciscan Order and
on several Dioceses. God continues to bless us with young men who are searching for God with
open minds and hearts, and who are prepared to embrace the Franciscan life of Gospel service
to their brothers and sisters in the Church and throughout the world. These young brothers
wish to devote their lives to prayer, study, and service to the poor and needy. They come from
families of modest means that are ready to encourage and support one of their children to
become a Franciscan brother or priest. They are enthusiastic about their vocation and they
have come to know and love St. Francis of Assisi as a man for our times. Our beloved Pope
Francis has taken St. Francis as his model and has been instrumental in spreading the
Franciscan message: love of God and of the poor; peace and reconciliation in our world; and an
awareness of the presence of God in all of Creation.

I have just returned from a visit to our Franciscans in Mexico, where I met with twenty-
four young Franciscan brothers, six novices, and twelve postulants who are now only beginning
their vocation journey. More than fifty percent of the friars of that region are in training. These
are young men who have decided to dedicate their lives to God in a special way, fulfilling their
baptismal vocation to live the values of the Gospel as Religious in the Church. What really
struck me about these young men was their very positive outlook on life – although they are
also well aware of the many challenges that young people face today. They share the
experience of all young people: the difficulty of deciding which direction they should follow in
their vocation; the difficulty of remaining faithful and persevering in this choice; and the
challenge to do this in a culture where there is a scarcity of good role models to inspire and
encourage the young. And yet, despite all of this, they are convinced that it is possible to live as
men of God — to be witnesses to the Gospel, to be dedicated to prayer, and to live as servants
of the poor, promoting dialogue and peace everywhere.

One of the challenges we face as a Religious Order is the mismatch between regions of
the Order that are rich in human resources but materially poor and those (especially in the
countries of the global North) where the reverse is the case. We continue to see a significant
decline in vocations and the aging and ‘graying’ of many Franciscans who have served the
people of God with courage and fidelity in countries such as the United States, Canada, and
Western Europe. As these northern Provinces become older and have fewer men, they also
have fewer resources to share with the ‘younger’ Provinces and Custodies where we are
vocation-rich, especially in Africa, Asia, Haiti, parts of Mexico, and Eastern Europe. In several
countries in Africa, Franciscans have had to reduce or temporarily shut down Formation and
Educational programs due to a lack of financial resources. We have had to ask young men
coming to join the Franciscans to return home, because the funds we have do not allow us to
welcome them.

For all these reasons, we must ask for financial support from our friends, those who love
St. Francis and St. Anthony, those who believe in our mission, and who trust us to be good
stewards of resources. Without this support, we will not be able to welcome the new vocations
that God is sending us, especially in Africa and Asia. For each new candidate, postulant, novice,
and young professed Franciscan brother in Africa or Asia, it costs an average of $2,200 per
person per year to cover the basic cost of food, housing, medical care, and study programs.
Unless we can find friends willing to help us financially, we will be forced to turn away even
more of the vocations God is sending us.

I invite you, our friends and supporters, to join with us as partners in the promotion of
the Gospel and the life of the Church, so that together we might be able to identify and secure
adequate funds to provide adequate support for our Franciscan formation programs. We will
do all we can to be faithful in our life as Franciscans, in our preaching and teaching, and in our
direct service to the poor and needy. Please help us make it possible to prepare the future
generation of Franciscan priests and brothers who will serve the local and universal Church. We
Friars do not have a fear of begging — it is written into the Rule St. Francis wrote for us! Help us
to make their dream and God’s vocation a reality for the many young men hoping to become
Franciscan priests and brothers!

Please be assured of the prayers of the 13,000 Franciscan friars worldwide who are
praying for you and your loved ones. Thank you for the many ways you already are supporting
our life and mission. May the Spirit of God inspire you and provide you with all the spiritual
blessings you need.

Sincerely in Christ Jesus,

Fr. Michael A. Perry, OFM
Minister General and Servant

By |2019-01-07T11:16:38+00:00November 18th, 2017|Appeals|Comments Off on May the Lord Give You His Peace