84th General Chapter of Capuchins elects Mauro Johri as Minister General
Fr. Mauro (center) pictured with Fr. Charles Polifka and Brother Mark Schenk (Definitor General)
Rome: August 27, 2012 The bells finally stopped ringing and everyone is wandering around waiting for “pranzo” which is still another hour from now. We eat the mid-day meal at 1:00 p.m. and supper at 8:00 p.m. We began the morning with a Chapter Mass in the church at 7:00 a.m. (lauds, of course, was combined with the Mass). The election began with prayer back in the church at 9:30 a.m. The prayer invoked the Holy Spirit a number of times in song, prayer (and probably texting, too). It included a reading from Matthew’s Gospel and from a work by Thomas of Celano. After that, the present Chapter President (Mauro) lit a lamp from the paschal candle and we processed to the Assembly Hall (Aula). There was a formal roll call to which we were instructed rather forcefully to answer “adsum” and nothing else. Everyone got the message that there was to be no nonsense. The full number of voting delegates (169) was present for the first time since the Chapter opened. Everyone who was not a voting delegate was dismissed from the Hall and the ballots were distributed and then collected. Each ballot was counted out loud and then each ballot was read out loud, 169 of them. We heard “Mauro Johri” proclaimed 147 times; John Celichowski’s name came out eight times. At the end, the vicar general asked Mauro if he accepted his election, and when he did accept, the formal proclamation was read by the Chapter secretary. Each one of us then approached Mauro to express our congratulations. The bells of the church began ringing with Mauro’s acceptance and continued ringing for a long while. In fact, I think they were still ringing when I got back to my room to send out the news in my “election briefs.” We were all dismissed from the Chapter Hall, presumably to celebrate. Nothing else is scheduled today except for the mid-day meal and then the Andre Bocelli concert this evening before supper. This was the third election of a General Minister that I have taken part in. The ancient way of doing the balloting hasn’t changed. What has changed is the technology present. Emails and text messages were flying out of the Chapter Hall, which, by the way, has Wi-Fi. Pictures were projected on the screen above the presidential console and showed each delegate as his name was called for the roll call. The election proclamation was written, printed, and proclaimed almost immediately. I pads and all kinds of sophisticated cameras were everywhere, it seemed. I would not be surprised to find out that the procedure was “Skyped” live. (I don’t know that for a fact, but I did see more than one delegate using an I pad as a camera.) So now we return to the Agenda after a day of celebrating the Minister General’s election. We have some serious business to deal with. I hope the Holy Spirit stays with us in these next days and weeks. Reflections of Fr. Charles Polifka, O.F.M.Cap., Minister Provincial