The founding Chapter of the new Franciscan Province in Spain was celebrated from December 29 to January 4. The new Province is named Provincia de la Inmaculada Concepción (Immaculate Conception Province) and is the result of the union of six of the eight OFM Provinces that had been in Spain and the small Custody of San Francisco Solano in Perú.
The founding Chapter, presided over by the general Delegate, Friar Juan Telesforo Zuriarrain, had the theme: “Do whatever He tells you” and it took place in a environment of brotherliness and hope. The Chapter was a time to study the reports of the Secretariats of Formation and Studies as well as of Mission and Evangelization. The report on the economy was also dealt with and the Project for life and mission as well as the Statutes of the new Province were approved.
On the afternoon of December 31 an encounter was held with General Minister Michael A. Perry, and General Definitor Vicente Felipe. There was also action in which the President of the Chapter read the decree which removed seven entities and the Franciscan Province of the Immaculate Conception was erected on January 1, 2015. The General Minister then congratulated the new Province indicating some points that must be considered in the near future. Then the decree appointing Friar Juan Carlos Moya Shepherd, 44, Minister of the new Province, Friar José María Sainz, Vicar Provincial, and the rest of the Definitorium was read.
On January 1, World Day of Peace, at the Royal Basilica of San Francisco El Grande, in Madrid, the General Minister solemnly proclaimed the establishment of the Franciscan Province in the presence of a broad representation of the Franciscan Family of Spain and Portugal, Cardinal Carlos Amigo Vallejo OFM, Bishop Emeritus of Braganza, and the Franciscan Friar Antonio Montes Moreira. The ceremony began at 12:30. With a packed church of over 300 people, the decree suppressing the seven provinces of the Order in Spain was read, and the Province of the Immaculate Conception was canonically erected.
Each former Provincial Minister performed a gesture standing before an image of the Immaculate Conception in the center of the altar, they each offered a basket of soil from the territory of the extinct Provinces, olive and “mesetas.” Next, the former Ministers returned the seals of the Provinces and the General Minister of the Order gave the new Provincial Minister, Friar Juan Carlos Moya Ovejero, the seal of the new Province.
The day ended with a concluding solemn Eucharistic celebration. Putting the finishing touches on the day a concert of medieval music was held in the afternoon
The new Province of the Immaculate Conception encompasses the territories of the autonomous communities of Andalusia, Aragon, Castilla y León, Castilla-La Mancha, Canary Islands, Catalonia, Valencia, Extremadura, Illes Balears, La Rioja, Madrid and Murcia. The Province has 365 brothers and the following apostolates:
- 46 Parishes
- 12 Shrines
- 13 schools with 7,355 students and 586 teachers
- 6 Infirmaries
- 6 Centers of Spirituality
- 1 Theological Institute, connected to the Theology Department of the Pontifical University Antonianum.
- 2 academic journals: Carthaginensia y Selecciones de Franciscanismo
- 1 Major College/University
- 36 Churches
- Within its geographic boundaries there are 83 Poor Clare Monasteries with a total of 865 sisters.