The North American and Pacific Capuchin Conference (NAPCC) devoted most of it March semiannual meeting studying the text for a proposed revision of the Capuchin Order's Constitutions and learning the procedures for a General Chapter to be held in Rome from Aug. 19 to Sept. 23.
Representatives of all 158 Capuchin provinces and other separate districts of the Order and members of its general council meet every six years in a General Chapter to elect a new international leaders and discuss the business of the entire worldwide fraternity.
This year's Chapter will last a week to two weeks longer than usual. Besides hearing reports of the past six years and electing new international leaders, it is required to discuss and vote on a complete revision of the Constitutions.
To prepare itself for the Chapter, NAPCC devoted most of it March meeting to studying the proposed text of the Constitution. Mid-America’s Fr. Christopher Popravak, who has served since 2006 on the Commission rewriting the Constitutions, presented several sessions to the provincials of North America, Guam, and Australia on what the changes are and why they are proposed.
The changes include more centralization of authority in the General Administration as well as in mandated requirements for initial formation and practices of prayer. The structures of the various jurisdictions are also under question, and it is proposed that current vice provinces be either raised to provinces or reduced to custodies.
The proposals, if accepted, will becoming official only if they are ratified by the Vatican's Sacred Congregation for Religious and Secular Institutes.
Mid-America’s Brother Mark Schenk, Definitor General, led the NAPCC members in a discussion of Chapter procedures. He explained how the General Chapter deals with the numerous languages, how unique parliamentary procedures are implemented, and how the groups or “coetuses” are formed.
Three members of the Mid-America province are voting delegates to the Chapter: Fr. Charles Polifka, its minister provincial; Br. Mark Schenk, a member of the general council; and Fr. Peter Meis, minister of the Vice Province of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Fr. Christopher Popravak and the other Constitutions Commission members will be present as resource personnel during the three weeks when the proposed Constitutions will be discussed.
During the General Chapter, the entire body of friars will spend a weekend in Assisi where Mass will be celebrated at the tomb of St. Francis followed by a festive meal with the Conventual-Franciscan friars in the Sacrum Conventum, the monastery attached to the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. As the Chapter closes, all the provincials and delegates are invited to a grand celebration of the Feast Day of St. Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo, where the saint lived and is buried.