A Message to Conventual Franciscans
This is an e-mail sent to local Conventual Franciscan Friars from the Minister General of their Community in Rome.
Prot.N. 609/97 Rome, 26 September 1997
All the Friars of the Order,
My Very Dear Confreres,
Two strong earthquakes—one in the middle of the night and the other after eleven this morning—seriously damaged the Sacred Convent of Assisi; the upper basilica in particular suffered severe harm.
Unfortunately, the second quake occurred while the Custos of the Sacred Convent and other friars, together with some technicians sent by civil authorities, were in the upper basilica to take note of the damage resulting from the first tremor. Without warning, the ceiling of the basilica caved in.
Under the debris four persons were found dead; among these were Fr. Angelo Api (48, from the Province of the Marches of Ancona), rector of the postulants, and one postulant himself, Zdzislaw Borowiec (22), a Pole who intended to affiliate to the Province of Umbria.
We are presently relocating various friars and postulants of the Sacred Convent during this emergency situation; the friary structure itself is too unstable for occupancy. This serious calamity is like a great wound inflicted on our Order and on all Franciscans: The heart of the Franciscan Family has been struck in a particularly painful way.
I beg you all to lovingly remember and pray for Fr. Angelo Api, an intelligent and much appreciated rector of numerous postulants who have been formed at the Sacred Convent these last years. He knew how to communicate our Franciscan ideals to these young men very effectively. The Province of the Marches has lost a gifted confrere.
A special prayer, too, for the young Polish lad who had entered the postulancy program in Assisi only ten days ago.
I entrust to your fraternal remembrance the entire community of the Sacred Convent which is bearing this painful experience; may the Lord Jesus, through the intercession of Francis, give it strength and hope. My brothers, let us accept this trial with the serenity that comes from our faith and be ready to carry the cross with Christ and Francis. Fraternal regards in our Lord Jesus Christ.
fra Agostino Gardin, Minister General