Structure - UFME - Friars Minor of Europe
UFME is the expression of the Order of Friars Minor (OFM), founded by St. Francis of Assisi in 1209, in order to live the Gospel in the Church according to the pattern observed and proposed by its founder and preach to every creature. UFME was established in the 1980s to respond to the desire to play, at European level, a harmonic action and pursue common goals.
UFME is formed by the members of the Order of Friars Minor and is represented by the Provincial Ministers, the general Guardians and Definitors of the European continent. The sons of St. Francis of Assisi present on the European territory are more than 8.000. The Franciscan convents and cases are grouped, on territorial basis, in PROVINCES; Provinces as well are assembled on a territorial and linguistic basis, in CONFERENCES, as listed below:
FRANCISCAN TRANSALPINE CONFERENCE [COTAF]
Consisting of six provinces, it groups the Franciscans of eight countries: Germany, the Netherlands, Romania, France and Belgium, Hungary and Austria;
HISPANIC-PORTUGUESE CONFERENCE [CONFRES]
Made up of 4 provinces, it groups the Franciscans of two countries: Spain and Portugal;
ITALIAN CONFERENCE [COMPI]
Consisting of fifteen provinces, it groups the Franciscans of two countries: Italy and Albania;
NORTH-SLAVIC CONFERENCE [SLAN]
Consisting of nine provinces, it groups the Franciscans of six countries: Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine and Russia-Kazakhstan;
SOUTH-SLAVIC CONFERENCE [SLAS]
Composed by six provinces, it groups the Franciscans of three countries: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovenia;
ANGLOPHONE CONFERENCE [ESC = English Speaking Conference]
Made up of four provinces, it groups the Franciscans of four countries: Ireland, Malta, Lithuania and Great Britain.
UFME therefore gathers 48 provinces of the European continent and twenty-three countries.
Coordination and Connection
1. The General Minister of the Friars Minor Order;
2. The President of the UNION;
3. The GENERAL ASSEMBLY, convened every two years, made up of the Provincials of the European continent, the general Definitors for Europe of the Friars Minor Order, the Guardians and all the other representatives of the Order geographically belonging to the European Continent;
4. A Permanent Council, renewed every two years, according to the territorial alternation, responsible for preparing the Assemblies and implement the decisions taken in the same;
5. An Executive General Secretary, who shall assist the Permanent Council in its tasks, and performs the job of UFME Representative at the European Institutions;
6. UFME General Secretariat is based in Rome and in Brussels, at the Franciscan Fraternity of Notre-Dame-des-Nations.
The action of UFME takes place:
Inside the OFM
At the EUROPEAN UNION and the European Continent
At preparatory and training level
At the EU institutions, national and local
At international and intercontinental level
Within the Order:
· Establish a strong and continuative contact point with the Conferences and the EUROPEAN UNION as well as the European Continent OFM Provinces;
· Develop and deepen the Franciscan values in the today’s European Continent;
· Deepen the identity and mission proper to the Friars Minor in Europe;
· Encourage forms of evangelical witness and Franciscan way of life in the new generations;
· Supporting the permanent animation of young friars at European level, particularly regarding the OFM legislation for the pastoral care of migration in Europe;
· Promote in both the ambit of projects and the general activities with organizations and groups, the ecumenical dialogue between the Christian Churches present in the EUROPEAN UNION and, in the European Continent, the dialogue with the great religions [Judaism and Islam], the dialogue with the different cultures.
At the EUROPEAN UNION and the European Continent:
· Promote the animation and the training of young people to the European citizenship;
· Promote, especially among the younger generation, attitudes and behaviours open to different cultures, ethnicities, customs and habits, encouraging enculturation, integration and respect for the others;
At preparatory and training level:
· Spread Franciscan ideals of harmony and peace with the others, in creation, in themselves;
· Promote - through various educational tools, inductive and deductive - the importance of the service to the poor, migrants and in general to those ones are excluded from the society, as well as the desire to contribute concretely with personal engagement and volunteering, to alleviate the sufferings of humanity;
· Organize courses, seminars, conferences to promote the voluntary work, to inform and discuss about the challenges, objectives, priorities, problems and difficulties of European society and, more in general, in the world, with particular regard to the current emergencies;
· Facilitate the creation cooperation and exchange networks to progressively transform UFME in a single solidarity network, with common and participate purposes;
· Encourage across countries the initiatives carried out by UFME to raise awareness in the public opinion and spread the "associative" model of UFME
At the EU institutions, national and local:
· Ensure an active and purposeful representativeness in the ambit of the EUROPEAN UNION, promote contacts and exchanges with the European institutions, and with the groups within the European Union with characteristics and milestones or long term goals, similar to the stated purposes of UFME;
· Establish contacts and collaborations with local and national government bodies, groups and movements in the various countries included in the territorial distribution of UFME [Conferences and OFM Provinces of the European Union and the European Continent];
· Promote informative activities by means of mass media, aiming at making UFME more and more popular, expanding its range of action to support its goals and objectives.
At international and intercontinental level:
· Create new contacts and take part to international and intercontinental initiatives promoted by other Associations, Groups, Movements, etc. that - even not pursuing the same goals and objectives - are aimed at the cultural education of young people and the human promoting.
The birth of an idea
During the OFM General Chapter, celebrated in Santa Maria degli Angeli (Assisi) in May-June 1985, the then-General Definitors for Europe, Fr. Hermann Schalück, Fr. Zeno Stys, Fr. Manuel Blanco and Fr. Angelo Stellini, advanced the idea of involving the Friars Minor of Europe in common initiatives, especially in the context of evangelization and formation. In those years after the Council, in fact, the Order of Friars Minor was meditating on the radical message of Francis and his renewal, feeling the need to get deeper with the ways to live the Franciscan religion within the Order. Learn better the other Churches, Ecclesial Communities and the other religions and, consequently, the different cultural contexts in which the Gospel used to be proclaimed. Support the internationality of the Order to form the brothers and their further update. Everything encouraged the connection between the various Franciscan Provinces of Europe and the promotion of the study and research to implement the decisions taken by the General Chapter 1985.
The first steps of UFME (1985-1999)
· After two years of preparation, the first Assembly of the European Provincial Ministers (Verona, 9 to 16 October 1988), decides to develop and strengthen the cooperation of the Friars Minor of the European continent, provides the basis for such cooperation and designate an Operations Committee (later "permanent Council") to make proposals and suggestions.
· According to the study conducted by the Committee, take shape proposals about the mutual information, solidarity between the Provinces, the commitment to justice, peace and the protection of creation, training and studies, learning of different languages to facilitate the relations among the friars.
· From the 19th to the 21st of October 1990 a pilgrimage to Vienna and Budapest, gives a solemn foundation in prayer to the intention of the Order to help to build a new Europe as the House of God, founded on Christ, and fecundated by the Holy Spirit.
· From the 6th to the 11th of October 1992, the second Assembly in Vaalbeek (Belgium), strengthens the commitment to the building of Europe, according to the Franciscan values. By mandate of the Assembly it is drawn the Body Statute, which officially takes the name of UNIO FRATRUM MINORUM EUROPAE and are also involved the friars of the Order belonging to the eastern European countries, since UFME - by its very nature - does include people, nations and cultures beyond the geographical boundaries of the EUROPEAN UNION.
· From the 10th to 15th of October 1995, the third Assembly of UFME in Santiago de Compostela (Spain), emphasizes the urgency of the collaboration among the European OFM Conferences, and traces a program of actions and activities to strengthen the presence of the new Body within the Order.
· In the following three years, the operations Committee works to the implementation of the mandate given by the Assembly of Santiago de Compostela. Among other things, it starts:
1. The renewal of the Franciscan presence in Turkey. In August 1997 takes place the first ecumenical initiative of the Franciscans of Istanbul, a patristic seminar organized in collaboration with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. Participants move from Istanbul to Cappadocia and Ephesus, the city seat of the Council in 431, prior to the schism that would have divided the Christian East and West;
2. The Committee also establishes a team to organize regular meetings of prayer, testimony and fraternity for the young friars of the European Continent (the first meeting will take place in Florence from the 25th to the 28th of September 1997). The plaudit for the initiative and the participation of young laic people, will encourage - in the following years - the creation within UFME of the so called EuroFraMe, with the task to promote periodic gatherings of the young Europeans (the last, in order of time , took place in Lourdes in August 2014);
3. Finally, the Committee prepares the participation of UFME to the Ecumenical Assembly in Graz (Austria). The President of UFME will be among the official guests and a group of friars will enliven a hearing during the meeting;
4. From the 12th to the 18th of October 1998, in Warsaw, during the fourth Assembly, the UNION statutes are updated and the provinces commit themselves to support the FRANCISCAN CENTER FOR PEACE in Split (Croatia), starting a stronger cooperation with the Commission of "Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation"(JPIS).
The years of consolidation
Since 1999, UFME has been consolidating its range of action among the European Franciscan Provinces and Conferences, better clarifying its immediate, intermediate and final objectives. Moreover, it has been trying to expand its presence at the EUROPEAN UNION, appointing an OFM Representative at the institutions as well as the European Parliament, and initiating, in the last six years, the OFM PROJECT FOR A NEW EVANGELIZATION IN EUROPE.
In this way, UFME faces two different perspectives. On the one hand, the growth in Europe of a network of new evangelization presence (General Assembly of Lisbon, 2011), by means of brotherhood deeply spiritually and apostolically regenerated; on the other, the act to tackle new dramatic poverties, that disturb projects, initiatives, hopes, and often inspire a feeling of helplessness against the inadequacy of just the human resources.
 The second EUROPEAN ECUMENICAL ASSEMBLY took place in Graz from the 23rd to the 29th of June 1997, focused on the theme: Reconciliation, gift of God and source of new life. 700 official delegates took part to the Assembly, representing the 34 Catholic Episcopal Conferences of the European Continent, grouped in the COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN EPISCOPAL CONFERENCES (CCEE), and 124 churches and ecclesial communities (Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran, Old Catholic, and belonging to other trains of Protestantism), affiliated to the European Churches Conference (CEC). In Graz were also present 150 representatives of European ecclesial movements and ecumenical organizations as well as guests from other religions, and more than 10.000 believers coming from all the European countries and the five continents.
Where we are