May 22,2022

Since the time of St. Francis of Assisi, the Friars of the Franciscan Order have been called to gather periodically to discuss our common life of prayer, ministry and our faithfulness to our Rule of Life. These gatherings are called "Chapters." When the Franciscan Order was young, the friars would all gather together in Assisi usually around the time of Pentecost. As the Order grew expanding throughout the world, the Order was divided into provinces. Each province would hold a "Chapter" to discuss the living of Franciscan life and ministry in their province and area of the world. Here in the United States, we have been seven provinces for many years. Due to diminishing numbers and a need to better focus on what should be our ministry today, six of those provinces, under the guidance of the head of the Franciscan Order (Minister General), decided to merge into one entity that would oversee our presence and ministry throughout our country and the missions we staff and support throughout the world.

Since the decision to restructure the six provinces into one, all of us friars have been involved in many meetings, much prayer and also a concern that we continue to serve the People of God and the Church in the best way we might in our times. The official beginning of the new province will be in October 2023. A new name for our province will be chosen by the General Administration of the Order. The location of the headquarters of the new province will also be announced soon.

The six provinces who will combine to form one province in October 2023 are having for the last time a Chapter gathering for our individual provinces sometime in the coming months. For Sacred Heart Province (the province of the friars who staff St. Peter's Church and Friary) we will gather together for prayer, brotherhood, and discussions in St. Louis, Missouri (site of our present Provincial headquarters) on June 13-17. As you might imagine these last provincial "chapters" of the six provinces will be bittersweet. Our coming together as one province will offer us new challenges and opportunities. We will be able to continue serving others in places we are presently at and also will be able to branch out into new areas and opportunities that we presently cannot staff. But our coming together as one province will mean our accustomed ways of doing ministry may have to adapt to different approaches.y

This is an early alert to everyone who comes to St. Peter's that because many of the friars from St. Peter's will be attending our "Chapter" meeting June 13-17 we need to make a significant change in our daily schedule for that week of June 13-17. There will be very limited services that week. The exact schedule will be published for June 13-17 soon as well as available on our website.

I ask that you keep all of us Franciscans in your prayers as we step into the unknown future. As the Franciscan Order has adapted and spread throughout the world ever since the time of St. Francis, our present age also calls us to rely upon the guidance of God's Spirit. As St. Francis often reminded his followers in the 13th century, the Holy Spirit is the true Minister General (Head) of the Order. God's Spirit is guiding us all on a new journey of how to live the Holy Gospel and how best to bring the Gospel message to others in the 21st century.

The Rule of the Friars Minor, approved by Pope Honorius in 1223, continues to guide us friars to our present age. The Rule begins:
"The Rule and life of the Frias Minor is this, namely, to observe the Holy Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ, by living in obedience, without anything of one's own, and in chastity. Brother Francis promises obedience and reverence to the Lord Pope Honorius and his canonically elected successors and to the Roman Church. And let the other brothers be bound to obey Brother Francis and his successors."

And shortly before his death in 1226 St. Francis wrote in the conclusion of his Testament to the brothers: "And whoever observes these things, let him be blessed in heaven with the blessings of the Most High Father, and on earth with the blessings of His Beloved Son with the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, and with all the powers of heaven and with all the saints. And I, little brother Francis, your servant, inasmuch as I can, confirm for you, both within and without, this most holy blessing."

I encourage you to come to a very special concert that will be held at St. Peter's Church on Friday, June 3 and Saturday, June 4. Both days the concert will began at 7:30 pm in church. We are honored to have the Chicago Sinfonietta playing here at St. Peter's. A part of the evening's music program will be the World Premiere of The Nature Suite by Robert Hutmacher, OFM. Fr. Bob is a very talented musician and presently serves as the Guardian of the St. Peter's Friar community. Fr. Bob has a number of music recordings and has performed in a number of places in the United States as well as in Europe. He has done extensive research in Assisi on music at the time of St. Francis and St. Clare. See the posters in church or the flyers available in church for more information. You can also find more information on our web site:

After a couple of years of doing our annual fund-raising Gala virtually, we return to the Union League Club on Thursday, July 14 from 5:30 to 8:30 pm. This is our largest fund-raising event of the year and it helps keep our ministry at St. Peter's operating. You can purchase tickets for this event in the church lobby or visiting our website. Hopefully, we'll see many of you at this important gathering of supporters of St. Peter's.

As I write these thoughts on Sunday, May 15, I urge you to pray and work for peace in our world and an end to the violence in our country. When over 10 people are killed because of racial hatred, when young children are murdered as they gather at Millennium Park or in their neighborhood, as was reported on the news early this morning we all must say....."enough is enough!" While we can continue to pray and lobby for peace it is time for our political leaders to not only express outrage at so much innocent lives being tragically taken from us but it is time for action and not just words. As I preached on Sunday morning Jesus makes it quite clear who is his disciple. "This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:35) Perhaps we all need to ask ourselves, "Can people tell we are one of the Lord's disciples?"

Just a brief reminder that we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord at Masses next weekend. We celebrate Pentecost and coming of God's Spirit the weekend of June 4-5. With Pentecost we end the Easter Season and return to Ordinary time. Let us keep one another in prayer this week.

Fr. Michael