Five Filipino friars from the Province of San Pedro Bautista participated in the Third Asian Young Friars Gathering (AYFG) that was held last October 18-27, 2016 in the Province of St. Francis Vietnam with the theme: “Going to the Peripheries with the Joy of the Gospel.” The five young friars are Mark Adame Bakari, OFM, Parochial Vicar at Santuario de San Antonio Parish, Forbes Park; Ruben Irece, OFM, Parish Priest of St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Quezon, Nueva Vizcaya; Orly Jimeno, OFM, Parochial Vicar, St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Sta. Ana, Cagayan; Andro Fernandez, OFM, Rector of St. Francis Shrine, Donsol, Sorsogon and Emerson Bumagat, OFM, Administrator of St. Pius X Parish in San Andres, Catanduanes. They were joined by two delegates from the Custody of St. Anthony of Padua namely Alberto Dano, OFM and Daniel Borromeo, OFM.


Attended by 47 delegates from about 14 entities in Asia, Australia and Oceania, the AFYG 2016 was graced with the presence of the Minister General Br. Michael Anthony Perry, OFM and Br. Lino Gregorio Redoblado, the General Definitor for Asia and Oceania. Among its major organizers were Irineo Tactac, III, OFM, EAC Secretary for Formation and Studies and Dexter Toledo, OFM, EAC Secretary.


During the gathering, the Minister General Michael Anthony Perry, OFM listened to the young friars who presented to him their concerns alongside the five priorities of the Order. After carefully taking notes, the Minister General gave his response. He invited the young friars of Asia to take on the challenge of bringing the Joy of the Gospel amidst the various conflicts that they are experiencing. Perry noted that conflicts are opportunities for friars to rediscover the beauty of their calling as young friars.


During the Closing Liturgy, the Minister General invited the young friars to sing with conviction the hymn “This is What I Wish” which echoes St. Francis` response to the Gospel when he was about to begin the gospel life with his first companions. Reflecting on Jesus` weeping over Jerusalem, the Minister General invites young friars to embrace the pain of all those living in the peripheries and make it their own. He then gave them a signed copy of the Blessing of St. Francis with the Tau Cross.


The 3rd Asian Young Friars Gathering is a 10-day event which aims to respond to the Order`s call for an intensification of ongoing formation especially for our young friars under ten by highlighting the call for collaboration and inter-Provinciality especially in the area of JPIC, Mission and Evangelization. Furthermore, it also aims to provide an opportunity for the young friars in Asia to share their Franciscan life and vocation experiences in order to support, strengthen and inspire one another.


The gathering began with a talk from Br. Hermann Schalück, OFM, former Minister General, who spoke about the Contemporary Challenges to Franciscan Mission. The next day, the friars gave a presentation on the Mission Challenges from their entities. The presentation was preceded by a short input from Br. Aloysio Kim, OFM, the EAC JPIC Animator. In Dalat, the delegates were brought to the Novitiate House which, at the moment, has 20 novices. In the Novitiate compound is a flower garden and an area for plant tissue culture. John Baptist Nguyen Gia Thinh, OFM, a missionary in Thailand Foundation, gave a talk on Mission and Reconciliation. The following day, the young friars visited the Truc Lam Zen Buddhist Temple where a Buddhist nun gave a short talk on the life of Prayer and Devotion in the Asian Context.


In Suoi Dau Friary, the young friars had a dialogue with the friars who are working with the FMM sisters in their apostolate for the indigenous people. The next day, the delegates celebrated Sunday mass with the indigenous people in the newly built Khanh Vinh Parish Church.


After these exposures to mission realities, Definitor General Br. Lino Gregorio Redoblado, OFM gave a talk on the Contemporary Challenges to Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation. Br. Greg was one of the main drafters of the Order`s recent document on the Care of Creation. He gave a preview of the Mission Challenges not only in Asia but around the world.


Br. Lino Gregorio Redoblado, OFM journeyed with the young friars from the beginning of the gathering until the end. During the rite of reconcilliation “Confessio Peccati,” he invited the young friars to humbly admit their many sins committed against the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. This is in line with this year`s celebration of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.


The Minister General expressed his thanks to all the brothers who spearheaded the preparations for the gathering especially those responsible for the logistics from the Province of Vietnam under the leadership of their Minister Provincial, Br. Ignatius Nguyen Duy Lam, OFM and their Vicar Provincial Br. Joseph Minh, who is also the Provincial Secretary for Formation and Studies.


This gathering would also not be possible without the generous help and wisdom of the leadership of the East Asian Conference under the leadership of Br. Carolo Ho Myeong Hwan, OFM, EAC President; Br. Irineo Tactac, III, OFM, EAC Secretary for Formation and Studies; Br. Aloysio Kim Jhong Hwa, OFM, EAC JPIC Animator and Br. Dexter Toledo, EAC Secretary.


(Contributed by Fr. Dexter Toledo, OFM)