Our Capuchin Constitutions require that the Minister General, the elected leader of the whole worldwide Capuchin Order, visit – either personally or through the elected members of his council – each province in the Order. Given the large number of provinces and friars (we are almost 11,000), it is almost impossible for one man to do all that, so the General Council members are assigned to do “visitations” of the provinces.
The Capuchin Province of Mid-America is represented on the General Council by Brother Mark Schenk, OFM Cap., who happens to be a member of the Mid-America Province. In this case, it is customary for another member of the General Council to do the visitation of the province. So Father Peter Rodgers, OFM Cap., the General Councilor for most of western Europe, is doing the “visitation” of the Mid-America Province.
The “visitation” began on April 29. Brother Peter took part (see photo at left) in the blessing of the new Administration Building which was celebrated by Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM Cap., the Archbishop of Denver. Brother Peter visited the friars in Denver and Colorado Springs and then journeyed to Ellis County to visit the friars there. He traveled on to Lawrence, to St. Conrad’s Friary, and then returned to Denver where he is concluding his visitation at St. Francis Friary. Before he leaves to return to Rome he is visiting with the Provincial Council (see top photo).
Provincial Visitations take place every year. The Capuchin Constitutions require the provincial to visit each friar and each friary at least twice in a three-year term. At these visitations, the provincial checks on the general well being of the friars, the life of the fraternity (how the friars are meeting the expectations of the Constitutions in their daily lives), and how things are going in the various ministries. A visitation from the General Councilor (or in some cases the General Minister) allows the friars to meet with someone who has the overall sense of the Capuchin Order and to reflect on how his life and fraternity meet expectations and values of the whole Order. It also gives the General Councilor a good sense of what is happening in the Order in this particular part of the world.
Capuchins are not men who are only members of a “province.” We are members of a world-wide fraternity of men who are striving to live the life of St. Francis in cultures that range from Papua New Guinea, Ethiopia and Eritrea, Switzerland, France, Turkey, Indonesia, Korea, China, Australia, South Africa – everywhere in the world.
A visit from a General Councilor makes each of us aware that we are not Capuchins alone in Kansas and Colorado. We are united with Capuchins all over the world. We are brothers to Ethopians and Papuans, with Indonesians and Italians, with Canadians and Brazilians. The whole world is our family.
We welcome Brother Peter Rodgers to Mid-America. He represents our universal brotherhood and calls us to a universal sense of brotherhood.