“Rivotorto Course” for AFCOF

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From May 31 through June 20, 2010, nine of our young African Friars took part in a continuing formation course of the Order organized at Rivotorto, Assisi.

This extended stay at Assisi, where the Franciscan Charism was born, is intended for Friars in their fifth year of religious profession, for Religious Brothers, or Priestly Ordination.

The principal goal of this experience is to provide the new generations of our Order with the spirit and history of Franciscanism.

We are presently located in seven African countries: Zambia (since 1939), Ghana (since 1979), Kenya (since 1984), Tanzania (since 1988), Uganda (since 2001), Burkina Faso (since 2001), and in 2008 the Province of Zambia opened a new mission in Malawi.

The vocations to our Order in this land of Africa, by the grace of God, continue to grow. All of the initial formation is done in common. There are 20 novices in the two Novitiates of Ndola, Zambia, and Saltpond, Ghana; there are some 80 students studying Philosophy at the Inter-Franciscan Centre in Lusaka, Zambia, and Theology at the Interreligious College at Nairobi, Kenya.

All of the formators are African. There remains, however, the need for a solid continuing formation that will permit the professed Friars to share, in a better way, the joy of being a Friar, and help to better form new vocations.

The course took place is three locations that are important and significant to our Franciscan Order: Assisi, Padua, and Rome. The participants came from the Province of Zambia, the Custody of Ghana, the Custody of Kenya, and the Custody of Tanzania.

The Assistant General for AFCOF organized and directed the Course. Through their generous availability, other Friars gave presentations in their particular areas of expertise in spirituality, history, and apostolic work. Besides following the history of the past, the renewal of our Charism and our history in light of the present, were also discovered.

A most beautiful and significant moment for our young African Friars, as part of our larger family, was the meeting held in Rome with the Minister General, at the Friary of the Twelve Holy Apostles. With his presentation, he encouraged and spurred the young African Friars on in their responsibility: that of translating the Charism of St. Francis into their multicultural African environment.

At the end of this experience, the African Friars expressed their deep felt and fraternal appreciation, first to the Minister General, and then for everything that was made possible by this rich and unforgettable experience of Franciscan fraternal life, particularly toward those Friars of the Communities that had hosted them: Rivotorto at Assisi, “Il Santo” in Padua, and the Seraphicum in Rome.

This was the first time to Europe for the Friars who participated in the program. They all left content and happy to have had the time to experience a lived spirituality, with a positive vision for our Order. It was beautiful, at the end of the course, to bring together all the suggestions and feelings that they had, proclaiming a hymn of thanksgiving to the Lord, the giver of every good. The Friars left content, enthusiastic, but above all, they left imbued with that sense of belonging to our Order, which they saw as a real international and strongly multicultural, family.

fr. Tadeusz Świątkowski
General Assistent Afcof