Secular Franciscan Order

Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis

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The annual course for the Mexican Spiritual Assistants of the OFS and YouFra took place from 8th to 10th February 2017 at the St. John Paul II Pastoral House in San Juan de los Lagos, Jalisco. The course was organised by the OFS National Executive Council and the Conference of Provincial Ministers OFM of Mexico, with the help of the National Assistants of the OFS: Fr. Abelardo Aranda Echeverría, OFM, Fr. Jesús Arrondo Aguerri, OFMCap and Fr. Francisco Vargas Aceves, OFMConv. Fr. Amando Trujillo Cano TOR, Assistant General OFS-YouFra, was invited to be the facilitator of the course. He presented the following topics:

  1. Presentation of the Handbook for assistance to the OFS and YouFra
  2. Origin, history and mission of the OFS
  3. The identity of the OFS - Secular Franciscan Spirituality
  4. Active presence of the OFS in the Church and in the world
  5. Spiritual and pastoral assistance to the OFS and YouFra, and
  6. Franciscan Youth: identity, development and relationship with the OFS.

The Presentations were followed by group work and plenary sessions. Some fifty Spiritual Assistants were present: OFM, OFMConv, OFMCap and a diocesan priest. They also counted with the presence and the support of five members of the National OFS Executive Council for the organisation and planning. The course took place in a spirit of fraternity, of dialogue and reflection, as well as prayer. The opening Mass was presided by Fr. Constantino Alonso Zaldivar, OFMCap, Custodian of Mexico-Texas, while the concluding Mass was presided by Fr. Amando.

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Ex General Assistant OFS and YOUFRA

03/04/1938 - 01/17/2017



Fr. Ben, delivered his soul to his Creator on the 17th of January. He suffered lung cancer, which was diagnosed a few months ago. He had not communicated his illness to anyone, except his brothers of the province and blood relatives. He lived with it with the same serenity that marked his life.

Fr. Ben served as General Spiritual Assistant to the Secular Franciscan Order and Franciscan Youth from the Elective General Chapter of October 1990, held in Fatima, to the Elective General Chapter of November 2002 in Rome. His appointment was a God given gift for all, for which we thank the Minister General OFMCap., Br. Flavio Roberto Carraro. His predecessor was Fr. Jaime Zudaire, OFMCap.

He began his task at a special and delicate moment of transition for our Order, the passage of the service of Minister General Manuela Mattioli to Emanuela De Nunzio. That is to say, two persons (Manuela and Fr. Jaime) left their positions during which time they had developed a fundamental role for the International Fraternity of the OFS, as you all know well. And a new phase began, which would certainly be different and this created uncertainty for so many brothers and sisters.

But Fr. Ben's manner was essential in order to smooth some of the rough edges during the first stages of the new Presidency Council of CIOFS, and things went smoothly. The Conference of General Assistants also lived their collegial responsibility for spiritual assistance to the whole Order and to the YouFra in the spirit of communion.

Allow me to share with you all that Fr. Ben was for me – an anecdote. Thus we can thank and praise the Lord, the origin and giver of all good, for his "being."

He was an example of a religious who loved and lived his own vocation passionately, both as a Christian and a Franciscan. And he had a special sensitivity and affection for the Secular Franciscan Order; and if I were to tell you that his affection was almost more for YouFra, many young people would confirm what I say.

He showed us continually, by his example and simplicity, how he lived true poverty that might seem shocking, but which was natural to his conviction. We have enjoyed his spirit of brotherhood, and of freedom without preconceived barriers; of his generous availability, even if he was falling from exhaustion; of his wisdom and depth; of his gift of the languages he learned, not without effort, but with love, to be able to communicate with all and serve all ... And so many things that each of us who have known him will keep in our hearts.

If you had seen how much he worked with Emanuela De Nunzio and myself during the revision of the General Constitutions, approved “ad experimentum” by the Holy See in 1990, and the collection of proposals from the National Councils, in order to present a selection of options for consideration and voting at the General Chapter...

I believe that for all it has been a true grace from God and a beautiful (opportunity) to live and work with him during his service to the OFS and Franciscan Youth, to the laity and to the spiritual assistants.

An anecdote: At the beginning of my service and his, he came to Spain to perfect his Spanish and when he arrived, the convent was closed and the friars apparently did not hear him. Even the euro did not exist and he did not have the local currency. He asked for help from a passing gentleman, who offered him some money to call me and waited in case he needed anything more. I told him to come to my home in a taxi. I had to convince him. While he was on his way, I prepared something to eat that he accepted with joy because it was already quite late. It was very cold; it was January, too, and snow was falling. As he always wore sandals, his feet were wet and icy. Then I realized that he had torn socks and I told him so. He answered, “Don’t worry when I get to the convent I will wash them and then I sew them again.” I told him to take them off and give them to me, that one thing was poverty and another misery. I saw how many times he had sewn them already. I offered him Juan's wool socks, my husband, and happily they fit well. Pleased, he put them on and also discovered that we had a source of electric heat under the table, which is called brazier here. It comforted him and from that first day, while he was in Madrid, after his classes and after he did his work as a Spiritual Assistant, he came home to that warm little corner which brought great joy to my family. His excuse was to warm his feet, but the real reason was to offer a little company to my mother because my father had recently died.

Let us unite in prayer for our brother, Fr. Ben, and praise the Lord for all the good that he has offered us and our Order through him. We send our deepest condolences and our immense gratitude to the Minister General of the Capuchin brothers, Br. Mauro Jöhri and his Province of Indonesia.

Encarnación del Pozo, OFS

(L to R: Lilian-Rita Akudolu, Michael E. Edem, Chinyere Ndeche, Genesis Ngwainbi (Delegate), Asiegbu Anna Azoamaka, Br. Anthony Essien, Obibuzor Jude Uche(National Minister)). 

Capitulars in Nigeria, 26/11/1026.

The National Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order of Kenya held their national elective Chapter. The elections were as follows: as National Minister our brother Patrick Macharia and as International Councillor and National Secretary our sister Jacinta Kingori. May God bless you and continue to brighten your way.