“Pope Francis beams invitation and joy,” reports Minister General Fr. Brian Terry, SA. Fr. Brian would know. This past fall was the third time he had the opportunity to meet the Holy Father.
On November 23, 2017, Fr. Brian, Fr. Ken Cienik, SA, and over 300 Friars from a variety of Franciscan orders (OFM, OFM Cap, OFM Conv, TOR, and SA) attended an audience with Pope Francis to present the work of the Capitolo Generalissimo.
It was a few years prior to the Capitolo Generalissimo that Fr. Brian had the opportunity to meet Pope Francis during a meeting for First Order Generals. Pope Francis challenged the leaders of the various Franciscan orders to work towards unity saying, “Isn’t there ecumenism between you?” At that time, Fr. Brian shared with the Pope about his role as the General of a community dedicated to promoting ecumenism. Our Holy Father responded with a hug, a “pace e bene” embrace, and a smile of encouragement.
For three years after that meeting with the Generals and 70 representatives of the Franciscans of Umbria, the communities committed to a pilgrimage of penance and healing to celebrate the document Ite Vos of 1517. This document calls for Franciscan unification of those communities who trace their rule to a foundation by Francis in Umbria, the birthplace of the Franciscan Movement. The purpose of the three year pilgrimage was to look at greater collaboration with each other and the possibility of a future reunification. This time of prayer and sacrifice culminated in the Capitolo Generalissimo that was facilitated by Fr. Brian in May 2017 and presented to Pope Francis this past November.
In addition to his strong desire to foster ecumenism among all people, Fr. Brian remarked on the Pope’s delightful sense of humor and his ability to make everyone feel loved. “When you meet Pope Francis, it is as if you meet a good friend. He gives you the sense you are the most important person on the planet. It just makes you think, ‘wouldn’t meeting Jesus do that?’ The core mission of this Pope has been making sure each person is invited to be a part of God’s church.”