When Dominic meets Francis

General Chapter Chronicle 2
The Minister General of the Friars Minor, fr. Michael Perry OFM

When Dominic meets Francis

It might seem a daunting task to preach to the Order of Preachers; but not for the Minister General of the Friars Minor, fr. Michael Perry OFM, who confidently addressed the venerable assembly of the Dominican superiors.

So began the Retreat Day at the General Chapter in Bologna. Most of the Capitular fathers spent this restful time in their air-conditioned cells with wi-fi connection. Some strolled around the medieval city meditating on the beauty of the palaces, seeking a moment of spiritual refreshment in a silent church or tasting an exquisite Italian gelato.

In his conferences, Fr. Michael recalled the life of St Francis in great detail and praised his virtues, frequently mentioning his conviction that St Dominic showed the same sanctity. Both followed the inspiration of the one Holy Spirit, after all. Fr. Michael stressed the faithfulness of Francis to the Gospel without being attached to its letter. He gave as an example the fact that Franciscans wear a cord around their waist, even though Jesus let his disciples keep their belt (as, it may be said in passing, Dominicans do) when he had sent them out without copper, bag or staff.

St Francis chose to go to the margins of society, sharing the life of peasants, living like a bird in the sky and like the flowers in the meadows. Quoting St Bonaventure, with whom St Thomas Aquinas was said to be friends, fr. Michael said that religious men and women should “push into the darkness of humanity to bring each and every person into the fullness of life”.

Fr. Michael concluded his conferences remarking that St. Francis did not feel the need to study the Scriptures very closely, since he only needed to know Christ, poor and crucified. At this point many Dominican student friars were seen to nod.

To seal once again the ongoing fraternity between Dominicans and Franciscans, fr. Bruno Cadoré gave fr Michael Perry a fine printed picture of Dominic and Francis embracing each other. Fr. Michael returned the gesture with a magnificent icon, also of Dominic and Francis embracing. Finally, fr. Michael and fr. Bruno themselves exchanged this holy kiss of peace, before all retired into the priory to enjoy some refreshing watermelon, rejoicing in their unique, Dominican vocation.


The Chronicler