(At least three of these friars are Capuchins; probably all five are. Their hood attaches directly to the tunic. Much of the benefit of the International Chapter of Mats was in meeting Third Order Regular friars and members of all three branches of the First Order. This happened at meals, at break times, before and after liturgies, while traveling and throughout the event.)
Because I worked at our general headquarters between 1985 and 1992 (most of that time as Director of Communications), I was looking forward to meeting some of the people who worked there during those years and other friars who were passing through our headquarters in those years.
Some of the friars whom I was hoping to see were there; others were not but in several cases I met friars of the same province who could give me news about friars whom I knew.
In some cases, friars recognized me but I could not immediately recall where I had met them.
At lunch on the first day, I met the current Director of Communications at our general headquarters. We had exchanged e-mails over the last couple years, but it was great to meet him.
In some cases, when friars found out to which province I belong they asked about other friars whom they knew in our province. At the greeting of peace at the final Mass, a friar saw my stole, which has an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe; we have a province under her patronage in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He asked if I belonged to that province (no) or did I know a certain friar. Indeed I did; he was a year behind me in our formation program.
Francis of Assisi wrote that when the friars come together they should show themselves as members of the same family. We did that beautifully at the Chapter of Mats. Before Francis of Assisi, monks spoke of the family model but stressed the father/son dynamic of an abbot and his monks. Francis emphasized more the brother-to-brother relationship, insisted that the leaders of the friars be called "ministers" at whatever level (local community, province, worldwide brotherhood).
Francis was revolutionary in envisioning that at times the heads of provinces, assembled at the worldwide chapter, might decide that the minister general was no longer able to give the leadership that the group needed. They could select a new leader.
When I worked as Director of Communications at our general headquarters, I considered it a privilege to help friars who would never meet certain other friars personally to meet them through the newsletter that I wrote in English and then was translated into other languages.
Friars at the International Chapter of Mats indeed showed themselves as "members of the same family."
(This photo shows the first row in Friday's penitential procession from St. Mary of the Angels to the medieval city of Assisi. Fr. Jose Carballo, OFM (minister general) hold the cross; to his right is Fr. Michael Higgins, TOR (minister general) and Encarnacion del Pozo, SFO (minister general). In the second row, the bearded friar is Mauro Johri, OFM Cap (minister general).