By Nithiya Sagayam
Pune, Feb 24, 2019: The annual assembly of the Association of Franciscan Families of India (AFFI) ended on Feb 22 with a yearlong plan to revive the charism of their founder Saint Francis of Assisi.
In the four-day event — attended by generals, provincials and other major superiors of Franciscans in India — marked the 800th anniversary of the meeting between St. Francis with the Sultan of Egypt.
The Indian Franciscans plan to develop broad based dialogue — with God, with the poorest and with other religions – in the coming year.
The AFFI is a nationwide network of around 50, 000 men and women Religious who follow St. Francis and St. Clare. They serve society both in India and abroad as missionaries through 164 provinces from 55 religious congregations besides another network of laity under the Order of Secular Franciscans numbering 70,000.
They work for the welfare of all, with special charism to be committed to the welfare of the least and the lost, through their apostolate of education, health and social uplift.
Their services are rooted in their concern for the marginalized with special focus on girl children, widows, orphans and the migrants. They serve in remote villages and in the slums.
The AFFI national network has also ten regional teams focusing on the local concerns of the people through their apostolate.
This AFFI network organizes training programs, workshops and seminars periodically both in North India and in South India. These programs are focused at helping those in educationists in their educational apostolates, helping the superiors on leadership in communities, guiding those in social work and the ministries of justice and peace in their welfare undertakings of the poorest.
The major superiors gather once a year to review their life and mission. The 18th Assembly was held in the Post Graduate Block in the Jnana Deep Vidyapeet, Pune with 88 Major Superiors (Generals and Provincials) from various parts of India.
They elected a national team for the next three years (2019-2021): president – Br. Praveen OFM, Vice President: Sr. Vandana FMCK, Secretary: Sr. Angeline FSJ, Treasurer: Sr. Jessly FCC. Br. Nithiya OFM.Cap continues as the national coordinator.
The assembly was animated by Mother Ann Joseph FCC and Jesuit Father Joe Arun and led them to concrete action plan.
Radicality of charism: to get rooted into the life, mission and specific charism of the founder. Hence focus on formation personnel will be top priority. At the national level, special training and workshops will be held.
Triple dialogue: in continuation of the 800th anniversary of Francis meeting the Sultan, all the Franciscan congregations in India will give importance to triple dialogue with God, with the poor and the marginalized and with other religions, cultures and nature. These will be held at every region with concrete steps.