Bangalore: The Association of Franciscan Families of India (AFFI) has launched a nationwide plan to observe the Year of Mercy.
The association with 50,000 members spread over 164 provinces of 54 congregations in India will strive to free at least 1,000 prisoners during the period when the Universal Church is a special mission to highlight God’s unconditional love and mercy for humans.
Generals and provincials of these Franciscans unanimously agreed to the plan when they met at Shanthi Sadana (peace center) in Bangalore, southern India, February 16-19 for their 15th national assembly.
The Franciscans are already involved in the advancement of the poor and marginalized through various educational and medical institutions, besides social works.
They are also involved in the spiritual and corporal works of Mercy as shown by their leaders Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi.
The meeting said Pope Francis’ call to the Church to observe the Jubilee Year of Mercy has added a special excitement in the mission of Franciscans in India. “We are proud to work with the Pontifical Council for New Evangelisation through this ministry,” the meeting said.
The Franciscan leaders decided to focus on the release of people who languish in jails for years charged with minor crimes such thefts.
The Franciscans have already succeeded in their mission to free prisoners with the involvement of their school. The same would undertaken across the country throughout India this year.
They plan to negotiate with government authorities and concerned officials not only to release the prisoners but also guide them to settle in life with dignity and hope.
All members of the Franciscan congregations and their institutions will devise various strategies to achieve this mission.
The Franciscans have also planned to focus Sustainable Development Goals with special thrust on those living under extreme poverty and hunger, to stop violence against women, to focus on the education of the poor and the needy children and to involve in the holistic health of the rural poor and slum dwellers.
“All this will be the outcome of genuine spiritual search in Deep God experience and commitment to the oppressed and the marginalized,” the meeting explained.
Capuchin Father Nithiya Sagayam, a Missionary of Mercy from India, has been appointed the national coordinator of the mission.
AFFI will work as a committed team to release as many prisoners as possible and also focus on their rehabilitation and reconstruction of their life with honor and dignity. “This will eventually also lead them to live a happy life with hope,” the coordinator said.