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NEWS of the Immaculate Conception Province  December 18, 2009 
PHOTO ESSAY: Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
Friar Vit Fiala releases first CD
Vocation Retreat to be held in Boston Jan. 22-24
Christmas Letter of the General Minister
PHOTO ESSAY: Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception 
NEW YORK - Provincial Minister Robert Campagna hosted the New York Downstate Region for a celebration of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.  The event, held at Padua Friary, included Evening Prayer followed by a preprandium and dinner.

Immaculate Conception in the Chapel

 IC Chapel 2

Friars Gather for Immaculate Conception
 Dinner for Immaculate Conception
Friar Vit Fiala releases first CD 
Fr. Vit Fiala, OFMYOUNGSTOWN, OHIO - Friar Vit Fiala has released his first CD of music for entitled "Serenade & Variations: Pieces for cello and piano".   The CD is a collaborative work with pianist Amy Vinisko from Bantam, CT.
The CD contains 11 tracks with selections from Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, Ravel, Faure, Mendelssohn, and Sibelius.
Entering religious life with our Province in 1991, Vit wondered if he would every use his musical gifts again.  Today, Fr. Vit has embarked on a schedule of concerts in Ohio, Connecticut and Florida that he uses as an opportunity to share beautiful music as well as to raise money for the Franciscan Missionary Union of our Province.
Vit is particularly excited about concerts he has been doing featuring music that was composed by Jews at the Nazi Concentration Camp called Terezin (or Theresienstadt) in the Czech Republic. These concerts have been in collaboration with Jewish musicians.
Fr. Vit, originally from Litoměřice in the Czech Republic.  He was trained at the Conservatory of Prague and studied with the well known European cellist, M. Apolin. He was the first cellist in AUS of Prague, then continued his career in Brno, the capital of Moravia.
He toured Eastern and Western Europe with the National Opera and Chamber Players of Brno and played in the Symphony Orchestra and Radio Orchestra of Brno. At this time, he also founded and arranged music for the cello quartet known as "Rag Q", which produced many recordings for the Czech TV and Radio.
In 1985, he escaped communist Czechoslovakia and relocated to Austria, where he joined a chamber orchestra and appeared often as a chamber concert musician. After two years, he continued his musical career in Canada, where he appeared as a soloist with local orchestras and in various ensembles including piano trios and string quartets. He also served as organist and choir master at a local church.
You can purchase a CD for $15 by contacting Amy Vinisko at [email protected].
Vocation Retreat to be held in Boston Jan. 22-24 
BOSTON - The Vocation Office has announced that a Vocation Discernment Retreat weekend will be held at St. Leonard Friary the weekend of Jan. 22-24. The retreat is open to single men between the ages of 18-38 who are discerning a possible Franciscan vocation and want to explore God's call in their lives.
Interested candidates should contact the Vocation Director at (800) 521-5442 or [email protected]
A vocation retreat was recently held at St. Francis Centre for Religious Studies in Caledon, Ontario, Canada from December 11-13 and another will be held on the weekend of March 19-21.  

Protestors in Hartford

Christmas Letter of the General Minister 
ROME - General Minister José Rodríguez Carballo has issued his letter for the Solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ..  The text is below:
Dear Brothers, May the Lord give you peace!

VIII Centenary of the Founding of the Order
We are about to bring closure to the jubilee year in which we commemorated 800 yrs since the founding of our Order, approved by the Pope as the forma vitae, revealed by the Most High to Francis, and which he, in turn, committed to writing in simple words (cf. Test 14, 15).

At the end of these celebrations we wish to praise and bless the Most High, Almighty and Good Lord, for the gift of Francis to both the Church and the world. We wish also to thank him for the gift of so many brothers and sisters who, inspired by the Holy Spirit (cf. Rnb 2, 1), have faithfully lived in joy and creativity the way of life handed down to us by Francis. Among them the figure of Clare stands out as the Little Plant of Francis.

The celebration of the 8th centenary of the founding of the Order of the Lesser Brothers began with an urgent appeal to be refounded, that is, a call to return to the essential, to the basic principles of our charism, and to the roots of our spirituality. At the same time, we are called to recognize, read, and interpret, in light of the Gospel, the signs of the times, for they are like "flashes of light in the dark night of our lives and of our people, lighthouses that generate hope" (LgP 6), and pleas which the Spirit makes to us and which ask for a response" (BGG 14). Hence, the urgent call to be "reborn" (Jn 3:3) resounds strongly in our hearts not to domesticate the prophetic words of the Gospel or to suit them to a comfortable way of life (LgP 2), but "to nourish from within, our fragmented and unequal world that is hungry for meaning with the liberating offer of the Gospel just as Francis and Clare of Assisi did in their time" (LgP 2); we are called to be evident signs of life for a world that is thirsty for a "new heaven and earth" (Is 65, 17; Ap 21, 1 [LgP 2]). This same call to conversion continues to hound us today, urging us to usher a new era and awaken a new vision of life that is founded on justice, love, and peace (cf. LgP 2).

By going back to the essentials, to our roots and foundations, we have found the Gospel. The rest of the text can be read here.

Nativity of Our Lord

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Prayer for Vocations 
 O Mary Immaculate, Patroness of the Americas
and Queen of the Order of Friars Minor,
we ask you to inspire humble and chosen souls
for a  life in Christ and in the spirit of St. Francis.
Motherly care,
foster vocations to our Order and to our Province,
so that seraphic love, labor and sacrifice
will ever flourish in this land dedicated to your protection.

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Province of the Immaculate Conception ˇ Order of Friars Minor ˇ 2009
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