“Another World is Needed: Together it becomes possible”: The Franciscans presence at the World Social Forum in Montreal, Canada August 9-14.

A significant crowd of about 10,000 people marched in the streets of Montreal, Canada at the start of the World Social Forum (WSF)   with the theme “Another world is needed: together it is possible”.IMG_1003

The excited crowds were chanting and waving signs and banners  with varie themes ranging from climate justice to Human rights to migrant solidarity, and beyond.  On the march, there were different groups from all over the world, including indigenous people, NGOs, and  grassroots environmental organizations. Clearly noticeable though was the Franciscan delegation with their brown and grey habits..

 

Created in 2001 in Porto Alegre, Brazil, the WSF was first held in direct opposition to the World Economic Forum—an annual invitation-only event in Davos, Switzerland, where corporate and state representatives collaborate on planning the world economy. The WSF is conceived as a space where a wide array of diverse social movements could meet each other and build bonds of solidarity, and develop common ideals and strategy for social change.

This year,  the Franciscan delegation was smaller with 14 participants drawn from all over the world and  from all the branches of the Franciscan family including, OFM, OFMCap, OFM Conventuals, OFS and Yufra, and  FCJM. They were also joined by  members of the Franciscans International FI, and the Franciscans Action Network  FAN,

World social forum, franciscan delegation

The delegation participated in several workshops and events especially those organized and promoted by the Roman VI and the FI. These consisted  in expression of experiences, debate initiatives towards the common theme of “Another possible world”.  Such workshops on  Trade, climate change, Laudato si, clean energy, environmental justice, extreme poverty, Human rights,  land reform and agro-ecology, right to food,  new media, social financing, ending destructive extractive industry and demilitarization were among the broad array of topics discussed in more than 1,200 workshops.

Given these  multitude of workshops and activities, the delegates were  encouraged to participate in events and workshops grounded in our Franciscan mission as defined in the Rio+20 and Cop21 Climate summits.  In addition the delegates participated in the following workshops that  were planned and hosted by the FI, Roman VI and other Partners

  1. Workshop on Rights of Nature and Environment: Roundtable on civil society strategies against environmental and human rights impact of extractivism. (In partnership with CIDSE)
  2. Workshop on Rights of Nature and Environment- roundtable on Civil society strategies against environmental and human rights impact of extractivism – (partnershiop with CIDSE)
  3. From Marikana to Mariana: how to face mining crimes – Perspectives, challenges and popular proposals in the face of mining violations.
  4. Conference on ‘Extreme poverty and human rights – tools and strategies- In partnership with ATD
  5. Convergence Assembly: Towards new international binding rules against business abuses of people’s rights

 

Following on the commitments made by the Franciscans at  the  Rio+20 climate summit in Brazil, the delegation decided to concretize these commitments by continuing to advocate and work on the areas of Lifestyle change (personal and collective witness), Mining and extractive industries (that extract large quantities of natural resources with their effect on the poor and the environment), and Food sovereignty and sustainability (especially for the poor).

Realizing that JPIC is part of our DNA as Franciscans,  JPIC international  commission encourages all our Capuchin friars around the world to join the rest of the Franciscans to engage with civil societies, groups from other religions, and all people of good will in the dialogue on suggested topics with a goal of creating greater awareness, coordinated actions and advocacy actions.  Finally we commend your grassroots activities such as the Rainbow house environmental project in Pontianak, the Capuchin Medical mission in the Philippines, the Capuchin soup kitchen  in Detroit and many others. With the suggestions offered in Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato si, let us all listen to the “Cry of the poor and the Cry of the Earth (LS #48)

 

group pic

the delegation after one of the events

St. Joseph oratory

St. Joseph oratory in Montreal, the place where the delegation stayed

| Leave a comment

Capuchin friars: Our thoughts and prayer for the earthquake victims in central Italy.

In the early hours of Wednesday, Aug. 24th, while many of us in Rome were still asleep, we heard the earth shaking, little did we know it had caused great damage and suffering to the people of Central Italy.

We are following the events in Central Italy, in shock and with great dismay. We are also aware of the increasing number of deaths, those gone missing and the extensive damage caused to  homes, churches, convents and commercial buildings. At times like this one feels the vulnerability of us humans along with fear, despair, hopeless and anger. It is unfortunate that these catastrophic events have been taking place in Italy quite frequently.   It is in such times of tragedy our faith and hope as a people of God and our solidarity reach out to you because your pain, loss, tragedy, despair and hopelessness are ours, too, as we are one in Christ and because we are the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27).

The JPIC office of the Order of friars minor -Capuchin in Rome, uphold you in our prayers and stand in solidarity with our Capuchin friars in the region and all others  as you morn the dead, nurse the injured and try to bring life back to the people in and around the areas of Amatrice, Accumoli,  Arquata del Tronto and all the affected areas of central Italy. Be rest assured of our prayers and support.

picture of earthqueck

| Leave a comment

Cry of the Earth. Cry of the poor: The JPIC-Capuchin friars Assembly for Pecific- Asia Conference, in Pontianak

In the face of the recent terror attacks and insecurity around the world, the  government of West Kalimantan, Pontianak- Indonesia did not take any chances in providing maximum security to the International participants of the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) Assembly of the Pacific-Asian Capuchin Conference (PACC).  participants and police

Over 15 policemen and women were assigned to provide  security to the 20 participants during the one week’s meeting. There were twenty four hours security watch, daily security check by the anti-terrorist and bomb disposal unit and constant security escort whenever the delegates left the meeting venue. “I never felt secure in my life”, commented one participant from Papua New Genea, “If only governments would do the same to all it’s citizens the world would be a secure place to live” he said while thanking the commander of the police unit.

 

The Pacific-Asian Conference JPIC assembly was held at the Tirta Ria Retreat House, Pontianak, Indonesia on July 24-31, 2016. The theme of the assembly was “Cry of the Earth. Cry of the poor”(LS 48).  The Assembly brought together 20 participants from the circumscriptions of  Indonesia (Pontianak, Medan, Sibolga, Kepulauan Nias ),  Philippines, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea (and the Solomon Islands), South Korea and Malaysia (OFS). We also had facilitators from Italy and Switzerland

The objective of the assembly was to animate- Inform, Integrate and Inspire friars of the PACC in values of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC). Moreover the assembly was intended to   facilitate stronger solidarity and collaboration among the JPIC animators of the PACC and create a regional network  with a common purpose and mission.

The Assembly was opened on July 24, 2016 with holy mass (by Br. Victorius Dwiardy OFMCap) and a colorful traditional ceremony by the Dayak cultural  people. The Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Pontianak, Br. William Chang, OFMCap, Br. Amandus Ambot OFMCap , provincial minister of Pontianak and the Chairman of the Representative House of West Borneo, Honorable A.L.M. Kebing, representing the Governor of Pontianak, graced the occasion.

DSC_1865

opening mass ceremony

 

The first part of the assembly consisted of symposiums with respective workshops where the delegates sat down to ‘enflesh’ the inputs that they have received from the speakers. The following topics were given during the assembly: The Capuchin JPIC Animator of the 2nd Millenniu (By Br. Benedict), Capuchin JPIC Work in the Light of CPO 8, (Br. Joel de Jesus), Mission of the Franciscans International ( Mr. Budi, FI), Extreme poverty (Mr. Budi), Testimony on Human Rights and Land-grabbing (Mrs. Ruth),  Understanding Laudato si (Br. William Chang) and JPIC and Formation, International JPIC Fraternaties  (Joel de Jesus)

On July 27, 2016, the delegates went out of the Tirta Ria Retreat House and visited the best practices of JPIC Work being done by the Capuchin brothers of the Province of Pontianak. It was a short but highly educational look into the ‘School of Life’ where JPIC Work come into place daily and where Capuchin Brothers express sincere solidarity with the excluded and with the environment. The places visited are the following:

Forum Relawan Kemanusiaan Pontianak (Forum of Volunteers for Human RightsBr. stephanus center) – this is a JPIC Office formed by Br Stephanus Paiman,OFMCap which is staffed by volunteers. They provide assistance and protection for the poor in areas such as human rights violations, dignity of labor, empowerment and many others.

Yayasan Sabatu (Sabatu Foundation) – The  institution founded by Br. Jan Wijnan, OFMCap, a Dutch Capuchin. It provides assistance to disable persons especially children through physical therapy, occupation therapy, providing of prosthesis and more

 

Komisi Pengembangan Sosial Exonomi (Commission on Social and Economic Development of the Archdiocese of Pontianak) – It provides services for rural communities in the area of empowerment, livelihood, unity etc.

 Rumah Pelangi Kawasan Konservasi Alam Kapusin Pontianak (Rainbow House Regional Office of Conservation, Capuchins of Pontianak) – This is a large track of land about 100 hectares, in the District of Kaburaya, West Borneo which is dedicated for reforestation and nature conservation. It was founded by Br. Samuel Oton Sidin,OFMCap and was very successful to the point that it received an award from the National Government. The forest is now a place where students of forestry come for field learning. It  provides cleaner water for the people in the surrounding villages. Aside from providing more trees and the rebuilding of the forest in this area, they also now provide a haven for people to gather and be in communion with creation and with each other. The forest is presently nurtured by two Capuchin brothers: Br. Michael Denco,OFMCap and Br. Anastasius,OFMCap.

IMG_0751

The Rainbow house-friars conserve over 100 hectares of land of indegineous trees 

In Rumah Pelangi or Rainbow House, the delegates took time planting trees and in a small way contributed to the reforestation effort of the Capuchins in the District.

 

 

After the election of the new coordinators, the PACC JPIC Delegates came up with five proposals to be submitted to the  ministers of the circumscriptions of the PACC.

Empowered by the success of the assembly and the increased fraternal bonds and collaborations that resulted from it, the PACC JPIC Delegates look forward to a promising future where the existing apostolates and institutions of the different circumscriptions of the PACC would be further strengthened and improved and newer forms of expressing solidarity with the poor and for creation be ventured upon with enthusiasm. We thank all our ministers and collaborators for their support and understanding and we renew our commitment to further service for those we are called to minister and care for. The success of this assembly has inspired the PACC JPIC Delegates to propose for another assembly after two years probably in the Philippines.

Br. Joel de Jesus OFMCap, Philippines,

Ben Ayodi

 

IMG_0923

main sessions

 

IMG_0626

group meetings

IMG_0869

The governor of Pontianak Honorable Drs. Cornelis invited the friars to his birthday party.

 

| Leave a comment

Has the International community failed Haiti?- The Capuchin Franciscans mission in Haiti

Though Haiti and the Dominican Republic share an island, they remain worlds apart. While travelling  by bus from San Domingo (Dominican Republic) to Port au Prince (Haiti), we could easily notice the disperity between the two countries. A part from the differences in language and culture, the two countries differ greatly in social, political and economic situations.  While the Dominican Republic is a popular tourist destinations in the

People lie on deck chairs on a sandy beach (Foto: CC BY-SA 2.0: Ronald Saunders)

Thousands of tourists travel to the DR each year

Caribbean, Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the Americas. Poor infrastructure, a history of foreign interference, chronic political repression and instability and extreme inequality are all cited as some of the long-term causes of Haiti’s failure to flourish. History indicates that about 40 years ago both countries had similar GDP per capita rates. Today there is a huge gap between them. Around four million tourists travel to the Dominican Republic each year

Since its shattering earthquake six years ago Haiti has received billions of dollars of foreign aid. But for all the international largesse the country remains impoverished and ill-governed.  The United Nations estimates that since the earthquake international donors have pledged more than $10bn of aid to Haiti. Over half of that money has already been spent.

the Ruined church of haiti

Six years after the earthquack , the ruined Cathedral of Port au Prince still stands the same

However, the several people I talked to including friars, expressed that  the international community including the UN, peacekeepers and the many NGOs were  doing little or nothing to help the situation. In fact some blame the UN peacekeepers for evils like- bringing cholera to Haiti. The hundreds of NGOs are blamed for corruption and serving their own interests.

The UN and NGS (1)

The UN peace soldiers are a common sight in Port au Prince

But it is a fact that many people have benefitted from the billion of dollars provided in aid to social projects in Haiti.  According to the World Bank, the school participation rate of children since the earthquake has risen from 78% to 90%. Between 1980 and 2014 life expectancy at birth increased by 12.3 years. And some projects have clearly transformed the lives of beneficiaries.

The Capuchin friars have also done a lot to improve the living conditions of the poor in their neighborhoods. We visited at least three fraternities where Capuchin friars are invovled in evangelization and social work. In Port au Prince, the friars provide food, shelter and other social needs to the poor in their neighborhood.

In Abacou  a village along the sea, the friars have a parish and provide spiritual needs of the local community, they also run the only clinic in the area providing health care amid  common sickness like chikungunya, ndenge and sometimes zika. The  fraternity of Sainte Francois d’Assise in Beraud, a part from pastoral work at the parish, they are involved in primary education.  Currently they are in the process of  building a formation house for postulants and a school for the community. In the  recent past the friars  helped construct a foot bridge to facilitate easy transport in the area.

taking care of orphans.JPG

In Abacou the friars collaborate with sisters to run a clinic, orphanage and computer training center. 

the bridge constructed by friars

Friars in Baraud built a suspension bridge, it’s the only  bridge linking the  villages around. 

IMG_0475

The Postulancy  house in Baraud, several Hatian brothers are in formation

 

| Leave a comment

On the First anniversary of Laudato si

 

Laudato siThis month marks the first anniversary of the publication of Pope Francis’ Encyclical on Care for our Common Home, with its incipit taken from St. Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of the Creatures. The Encyclical’s first announcement generated much excitement, and stirred up curiosity. Its release was met with acclaim and skepticism. Believers and non-believers alike weighed in with their comments; it encountered very little apathy.

One year from the publication of Laudato Si’, where do we stand? Many people have discussed it, some of them not having even read it first. There have been study guides published, including one prepared by the Inter-Franciscan Commission for Justice and Peace (Romans VI), which can be found on the internet in 8 languages at francis35.org. The Global Catholic Climate Movement is calling for a Laudato Si’ week (12-19  June) http://laudatosiweek.org/index.php/onlineconference/  to generate again the interest and enthusiasm which heralded its release.

The JPIC OFM Cap commission in collaboration with regional JPIC commissions have organized several events including a workshop  on Laudato si in the Dominican Republic for friars in Latin American and Caribbean June 6-11, 2016.  The Province of St. Joseph, Detroit has organized online seminar on Laudato si, June 20-24, 2016, all are invited to participate –  http://www.thecapuchins.org/jpic/join-the-capuchin-franciscans-for-ladauto-si-webinars-june-20-24-2016

As the anniversary approaches (24 June) we ask the Capuchin friars and the Franciscan family throughout the world to commit themselves anew to the lifestyle change that is necessary to move from thought to action and to take concrete measures to care for our common home. Keeping in mind the three focus areas agreed upon at Rio +20, we encourage one and all to make the necessary life-style changes, to take a hard look at one’s own economic choices and their nation’s economy, and to focus on the effects of extraction industries on the life and human rights of the poor.  In all these ways, we can help our “poor” sister, Mother Earth.

Roman VI

Benedict, JPIC OFMCap

| Leave a comment

1st anniversary of Laudato si- GCCM

OneLaudato si year ago, on June 18th 2015, Pope Francis released his historic encyclical Laudato Si: On Care for our Common Home.

The Global Catholic Climate Movement has created a new website http://laudatosiweek.org offering news, events and resources for Laudato Si’ Week (June 12-19) to celebrate the encyclical’s first anniversary.

The website not only offers resources, but allows you to sign up for events in your local area, register your organisation or event or access the online conference featuring Bp Sanchez Sorondo from the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and Jeffrey Sachs from Columbia University, to dialogue about our Common Home and the encyclical (list of speakers to be announced soon). This is a response to the Pope’s call: “I urgently appeal for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet” (LS, 14).

Watch this video about the encyclical

| Leave a comment

Capuchin friars India committed to Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, JPIC

The Capuchins in India have decided to take matters of justice, peace and ecology seriously in their lives and ministry.

They came to this decision at the end of a week-long national workshop cum training program organized by the Office of the Commission for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) at Kotagiri Friary, in the Province of Mary Queen of Peace, Tamil Nadu, India from 2 – 8 May, 2016.

 

18 friars from 10 circumscriptions and 2 custodies from across India participated in the program, which was aimed at preparing them, and through them other members of different circumscriptions, to be effective animators in the ministry of JPIC in India.

Besides these friars, Br. Jacob Kani, the JPIC Commission member from India, and Br. Nithiya, as a resource person, too were present for the first ever such program in India.

Br. Benedict Ayodi, the Director of the JPIC Commission, inaugurated the workshop cum training program. He exhorted the Capuchins in India to actively involve themselves in the issues of the people, especially the poor and the marginalized, in ensuring them justice at all levels, in peace building, and in caring for the environment which is facing serious and manifold threats for its healthy existence.

Br. Ben animated various sessions and motivated the participants to follow the examples of Capuchins and other Franciscans in different parts of the world who are seriously engaged in JPIC activities. He explained to the participants the spirituality of JPIC in the SEE, JUDGE, ACT framework, the Franciscan ecological concerns, the success stories of JPIC around the world, and the response the friars need to develop in the given socio-economic contexts.

Br. Jacob Kani, the Indian representative in the JPIC Commission and who organized the Kotagiri program, made it clear that JPIC is not an optional thing but an integral part of every Capuchin’s life and ministry, and that the JPIC values need to be part of the whole formation system of the Capuchins. He explained the Commission’s work under the framework of ‘INFORM, INSPIRE, and INTEGRATE’.

He emphatically stressed the need to have a JPIC structure in the conference (CCMSI) level as well as in the circumscription level. He explained the efforts he made in this regard but with little success with the CCMSI.

Br. Nithiya, Fr. James Mascarenhas, SJ and Sr. Mariola, BS conducted the workshop and enlightened the participants on how to develop a Human Rights-based approach to the JPIC issues in India. They enabled the participants to distinguish between the charity-based activities and human rights-based activities. The new Indian legislations like Right To Information (RT), Right To Education (RTE), Right To Food etc. provide ample opportunities for the socially-conscious religious to work for the rights and dignity of the poor people in the country, they pointed out.

The team brought awareness to the participants regarding the human rights of the people of India, and educated them as to how to claim those rights for the poor and marginalized sections of the society along the lines of various human rights laws and international conventions.

Br. Nithiya focused on the issue of extreme poverty and hunger and explained the Right To Food campaign that many Franciscans and NGOs undertake in the country. He also explained the Process of Movement Building and how Capuchins can involve themselves in it. He led the participants into group work and making action plan on certain JPIC themes.

Br. Arun Lobo helped the friars in ice breaking, bonding, sharing and reporting the JPIC activities in each circumscription / custody, and in organizing the program.

At the end of the programe, the participants were enthused to engage in JPIC ministry more seriously and effectively in their respective provinces and regions, as well as to motivate other members to join th em in this task.

Br. Jacob Kani proposed setting up a National JPIC Team to coordinate and animate the JPIC activities in the CCMSI conference level. Accordingly, the participants elected a 5-member team for this purpose, which is seen as a pro-active response and positive result of this training program.

New JPIC coordinating team in India

JPIC coordinating team at the CCMSI conference level

The JPIC Commission intends to recommend this national team to the CCMSI for their official endorsement and approval for further planning, training, and activities of JPIC in India.

The participants welcomed and appreciated the initiative of the JPIC Commission in organizing such a program for Indian Capuchins, who are mostly engaged in traditional pastoral and spiritual ministry, school ministry, social works etc. Some of them are also engaged in media and publications work.

Many participants are of the view that a paradigm shift is required from the age old works of religious to address the issues affecting the poor and marginalized people today, harmoniously combining spiritual life and active ministry, following the example of Jesus, St. Francis of Assisi and Pope Francis, so that the religious remain relevant to the needs of the time.

Before concluding the program, we gathered the students of philosophy in the friary, who come from three provinces, and Br. Ben spoke to them about the JPIC while Br. Arun explained about the PCO VIII and its deliberations.

IMG_5186

Br. Benedict Speaking to Philosophy students in Kotagiri

The friars took time for exposure, visiting the local tribals – the KOTHAS –  who were the original inhabitants of Kotagiri hills (The name KOTAGIRI means ‘THE HILL OF KOTHAS’). They were surprised to find a highly civilized, educated, peaceful, friendly and well-mannered community of Kothas, who today number only a few more than 2000! We pray that these original owners of the beautiful Kotagiri hills, decked with tea estates and flowers, surrounded by hills and valleys, and filled with fresh, clean and cool air, should not go extinct in course of time, but should live long in order to tell their stories to those who become the new owners of their beautiful hills.

At the closing mass, Br. Benedict officially launched a handbook by the Franciscans International on  “Making Rights work For People Living in Extreme Poverty”. The hand book is meant to help in implementing the UN guiding principles on Extreme poverty and Human Right. It will be a great resource for the JPIC animators in India.

Handbook on extreme poverty

Launching Handbook on Making Rights work for people living in extreme poverty

The last day of the program was spent on outing to the ever beautiful hill station of Ooty, enjoying the cool air, beautiful flowers, gardens, hills and valleys of this great tourist attraction in South India.The Capuchins in India are spread across the country in 15 provinces/custody

 

 

| Leave a comment