Provincial Assembly 2024 – Final Document

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In preparation for the OFM General Chapter of Mats in 2025, the Holy Spirit Province of Canada held a three-day gathering of Friars and Young-Adults (18+ years of age) from across Canada. The Synodal gathering took place from February 16-19, 2024. The theme for the gathering was: Rebuild My Church: Charism, Communion, Mission. This document is a Synthesis Report of the conclusions from group discussions that focused on the three themes for our General Chapter of Mats of 2025 – Charism, Communion, Mission.

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Participants, 49 in total, included:

17 OFM Friars
The Provincial Minister and his Definitory
The Provincial Secretariat for Mission and Evangelization
The Provincial Secretariat for Formation and Studies
Spiritual Assistants to the OFS and YOUFRA
Friars who are active in a variety of ministries within Canada
29 Lay People (16 women)
2 Franciscan Religious Women
1 Postulant

Total = 49


The Process used was the process for the Synod on Synodality (For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, Mission) taken from the Synod 2023 Instumentum Laboris.


The following questions were discussed by participants:

Charism – A) What are we hearing on the road with Jesus? Where are we with the Church?

A reflection on the road to Emmaus reminded participants that we are all together on the road with Jesus. Although we know not where Jesus is leading, we are privileged to be on the road with him, and appreciative of this grace. For participants, this implies appreciation for belonging to the church. The value of having a community, to whom to belong, surfaced as something of great importance. Belonging leads to sense of ownership, that is understood to be shared rather than possessed. In other words, the church is “our” church in the sense that God is “Our Father”. We belong, even though we are called to be sine proprio – we cannot be possessive of our church. We desire to listen and to discern together the voice of the Spirit.

Charism – B) Have I heard God’s voice? How does God and the Church speak to me?

Participants reflected on their own experience of hearing God’s voice, in view of understanding the variety of ways in which God speaks to disciples. It surfaced that God calls us forth in a variety of ways; at times God speaks through subtle signs. Those who hear God’s voice desire prudent judgement and discernment in order to interpret the signs. A sprit of prayer and devotion, within the context of the church’s liturgical life and the sacraments, is a useful resource to access God’s call. The scriptures, the church’s teaching authority, family and friends, the example of Mary, and a personal encounter with Jesus all open us to understand God’s call. Most of all, participants recognized that they all desired to belong to God’s family, and were therefore called to an awareness of self (ie. their weaknesses) for the purpose of discovering the authentic mission of Jesus.

Communion – What does it mean to be a Synodal Church?

For participants, being a church of synodal style was very important. All recognized that gathering in the way that we were gathered, at small tables, men and women, professed and lay, with equal time to listen and to speak was a prophetic way to be church. There was a sense that Jesus was present to our discussions, and that living in synodal manner, that is inclusively, respectful of our diversity, and prayerfully, we were building up the kingdom of God. Participants stated that a synodal church is a church that is inclusive, diverse, open-minded, listening and attentive, but also rooted in the scriptures and in the tradition of the church, as well as in the tradition of the Franciscan order. There was a sense that the wisdom of our tradition is best communicated in respectful dialogue, where the bond of friendship is established and maintained.

Mission – Where is the Spirit leading the church today? What is the Spirit saying to us?

Participants expressed a calling for the church to return to her roots, and to go out into the world. Many used the image of the church as a “home for all” as reason to seek out the lost, the confused, and the disenfranchised. Friendship with the wounded, the abused, members of the opposite sex, homosexual couples and individuals, surfaced as callings for believers. It was expressed that the spirit is calling for a renewal of catechesis, more faith formation, for adults who are perhaps disinterested, angry or without knowledge. Participants saw themselves as being called to evangelize through personal witness, the sharing of personal stories, through teaching the essentials of the faith with respect and patience, yet not without courage. They expressed a call to integrate marginal believers, and to trust in God’s ways of working in them. A sense of joy, hospitality and forgiveness belong to those animated by the spirit. Should we dare to go where others will not go, or where we are made uncomfortable, it is then that we witness to the true joy of the gospel and serve.


Below are our Province’s responses to questions given in preparation for the General Chapter of Mats of 2025. These responses are based on learnings expressed in the Synthesis Report, above.

Charism (1.) Renewing our Vision: Which aspects of our charism should we be open to today?

As Franciscans, we have such a wonderful resource in our founder. St. Francis’ fidelity to his church was strong, but such did not stop him from calling the church to reform and renewal. He did so by his example of accompaniment, choosing solidarity (or we could say synodality) with the poor as means to discover Jesus. St. Francis’ spirituality around the primacy of Christ Jesus is an example for us today. Our charism calls us to live and to thrive within the church, but also very much in relationship to Jesus. Our charism points to a spirit of prayer and devotion, a liturgical life, and intentional reflection on the Gospel. We are also taught by Francis’ orientation, like that of Jesus, towards the marginal members of the church. Our founder’s solidarity with lepers, with women, with the poor, etc., invites us to embrace the spirit of Emmaus. Always ought we desire to remain on the road; Always may we desire also that others remain on the road with us.

Communion (2.) Walking in a particular style: what is the prophetic style of fraternity in minority?

In a word, the prophetic style of a fraternity in minority is a synodal style. As a fraternity, we are a microcosm of the church. Our founding was inspired by the acts of the apostles and the example of the early church. And so, we are called to a humble and respectful attitude towards everyone in search of solidarity. If friars minor, we desire friendship with marginal believers. This means creating spaces for marginal believers, for the poor, to gather and express their communion with Jesus. It also implies empowering the laity to share, co-responsibly, in our mission, by fostering a shared sense of ownership in our charism. It was particularly noted, during our discussions, that much can be learned from St. Francis’ encounter with the Wolf of Gubbio. A prophetic style, or Christian witness, is to face what we would otherwise find threatening and to establish friendship.

Mission (3.) Embracing the future: witness-mission: who and how do we serve?

It is clear that Franciscans are sent to be among, and to serve, the poor. And poverty has many forms. It is clear that we are being sent to anyone who seeks and struggles to find his or her place within the communion of the church. A spirit of service pulls us out of ourselves and into friendship with those we would otherwise avoid. We serve peripheral believers, the poor, through witness to the gospel, which includes our Franciscan identity, by building up spaces for all to experience welcome and belonging in the name of Jesus.

Further Reading

“From February 16 – 19, Friars from across Canada along with two Franciscan Sisters and several lay men and women gathered for a weekend of Synodal listening and sharing at Mount St. Francis Retreat Centre. Varying in ages and backgrounds this diverse group leaned into what it means to be church today and to dream for the church. We considered the charism of the church, how we are called into communion and sent forth in mission. The following is the summary shared with the group…”

Rebuild My Church – Charism, Commission, Mission — Michael Perras, OFM

“There is a deep, profound joy to be found being vulnerable before Christ. This was one of my most impactful takeaways from participating in the Franciscan Synod at Mount Saint Francis in Cochrane, Alberta this past weekend. This gathering marked the first time that lay people had been invited to join the Franciscan Holy Spirit Province in synodal discernment. Lay and consecrated men and women, totaling 49 of us from across Canada, gathered to discuss where the Spirit was leading the Church and just what exactly “synodal church” means to us…”

Vulnerable With Gratitude — Noëlle M.

“Every part of our synod commenced with a prayer invoking the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and I am following suit, and I encourage you to also pause for a prayerful moment and seek His wisdom and discernment. I went to the synod with a big hope: to hear from Christians all over our country about how they’re tackling the myriad challenges our churches are facing today, and to take back what I learned to help out in my own small way in my parish…”

Reflections: Rebuild My Church — Luke S.

“Behind every blessing is an invitation, or as the popular proverb goes, “there is no such thing as a free meal”. The mandate to be a “missionary of synodality” and, in particular, to organize synodal encounters for priests living in Canada, was not the souvenir I had sought to bring back from Italy. But an invitation from the Pope, to be who I am, is an invitation hard to refuse…”

Seeing the Invitation: My Experience of the Synod for Priests — Pierre Ducharme, OFM


About the author

We are the Franciscans of Canada and on this page, we share news from the whole province. You will find here information about friars or ministries that we want you to introduce to you. Friars who only occasionally contribute to the website also post their writings here.

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