Direction Statement of the National Board
and the Executive Directors of the Franciscan Federation
The Vision of the Franciscan Federation is to deepen the understanding and love of the Third Order Regular Charism in our lives in order to share this gift with the Church and the World.
The Mission of the Franciscan Federation is to promote exploration and study of Franciscan Evangelical Life and its implications for these times and for our world. The Federation provides national and regional opportunities to collaborate, gather, and celebrate so that the brothers and sisters can better live the Third Order Regular call to conversion, contemplation, poverty, and humility.
from the Bylaws of the Franciscan Federation
Today as in the past, we Third Order Regular Franciscans are tasked with presenting to our society the Gospel of Christ as lived and preached by our Holy Father Francis. As members of the Franciscan Federation, we strive to articulate this message through the Vision and Mission stated in our Bylaws. Our responsibility is to share this gift with the Church and the World. This mandate causes us to look beyond our present membership to other Third Order Regular congregations who are presently not part of the Federation, as well as those who work along side of us.
Some congregations have chosen to not join, or have left the Federation. It is imperative to reach out and open a dialogue with these groups to find out what the Federation can offer them and invite them to join us. Whether it be a matter of economics, numbers or perspective, we as Franciscans can accommodate our absent Sisters and Brothers in our organization. We seek to “foster unity and communion with all members of the Franciscan family” (Rule 1:3).
From the beginning of our ministries, our congregations have invited co-workers to join us in serving God’s people in making real the dreams of our founders. Be it education, health care, social service, global and local initiatives of justice, peace and integrity of creation, or other Church ministries, Franciscan evangelical life in all its manifestations has been a sharing of energy between religious and laity.
Today, in many of our institutions, the continuation of the Franciscan message is in the care of these women and men who are journeying along side of us: as Campus Ministers in our colleges and high schools, faith formators of young students, animators of Franciscan spirit in our health care facilities and retreat centers, Franciscan Volunteers, Associates/ Affiliates/ Cojourners, Third Order Secular members or those with a Franciscan heart performing corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
They are hungry to learn more about Franciscan life; and we are mentors who have a wealth of wisdom to offer them. The next generation of Franciscans may not be in our convents or friaries, rather working along side of us.
The Mission of the Franciscan Federation is to promote exploration and study of Franciscan Evangelical Life and its implications for these times and for our world. Maybe our task at this moment in time is to make the Federation a place where this study happens. Those whom we have charged in continuing our work clamor to be nourished and sustained by Franciscan ideals. We professed religious can serve as mentors. At the same time, there are many of our co-workers who are running successful programs of sharing the charism with those whom they minister. We can provide a forum where they can share ideas and teach us how to transmit the Franciscan message to a new generation.
The Board and Executive Directors believe that the Federation needs to be a catalyst in bringing together the wisdom and traditions of the present membership and the energy and contemporary practices of the modern day followers of Francis and Clare. This will involve change. It will involve the humility of being open to the ideas of others – those who have a different experience of Church as well as those whose youth and enthusiasm may rock our staid boats. Are we ready to move to the next step in the evolution of the Federation?
This process would involve transformation in several areas:
1- our website could expand to be a resource for “Best Practices” for those wanting to share ideas in spreading our charism in witness and in ministry. (ie. Lesson plans on Clare and Francis, celebrations for workers, prayer services, etc.)
2- the AFC could add a component of workshops for those looking for practical ideas in Franciscan ministry and development of the Franciscan person.
3- Some co-workers might be invited to help plan the AFC as well as be potential presenters.
In order to further this idea, the National Board and Executive Directors propose the following action steps:
1- The National Office will convene a ZOOM meeting in early November with participants of the National Board, the Executive Directors, the Commission chairs and the Region chairs to discuss this statement. If there is not consensus, the National Board will take the advice of the ZOOM participants and reconfigure the statement. If there is agreement –
2- The National Office will poll the Regions. The Regional Chairs will be asked to submit the names to the National Office of congregations in their Region that presently are not active in the Federation.
3- each congregation will submit the names to the National Office of those in their institutions who are entrusted with furthering the Franciscan charism. These people would be contacted by the National Office to see what the Federation can offer in ways of support.
4- The National Board will form committees of religious and lay to develop tools addressing these needs.
5- Bylaws will be reviewed as necessary by the National Board.