Michael Perry, OFM, Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor, opened the 2016 Franciscan Mega-Conference with his keynote talk titled “Lesser Brothers on a Vocation Journey of Mercy.” Fr. Michael highlighted eight key “tools” that are essential for identity, renewal, ongoing conversion, relevance for our way of life, and for vocation promotion:
- Primacy of life of prayer and listening to Word of God together as fraternity;
- Care of authentic and deep fraternal relations;
- Simple and sober lifestyle, living in spirit of minority and giving testimony to one’s faith and collective experience of fraternity;
- Dialogue and willingness to move with God’s people, going out to the world, and sharing life among God’s anawim, God’s people, living and working with the poor and marginalized (materially and spiritually);
- A missionary spirit characterized by openness to mission ‘inter gentes’, living in spirit of itinerancy and presence among non-believers, among the poor and forgotten, and giving clear witness to fraternity as non-negotiable to our lives;
- Living in communion with the local/universal Church;
- A willingness to adopt forms of active collaboration with the laity and Franciscan family; and
8. A deep and abiding commitment to the values of Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation confronting social and structural sin, and violence in all of its different forms.
Representatives from more than 18 Franciscan provinces, including OFM provinces, Capuchin provinces, Conventual provinces, and representatives from the Friars of the Renewal and the Brothers of Brooklyn were present. After the talk, the Friars broke into groups to discuss how the Franciscans can work together to continue proclaiming the Gospel life, specifically through the fostering of new vocations inspired by the “lesser way” of St. Francis.