Having identified the need to promote vocations to our Order, let us be clear about the meaning of "Promotion" and then let us look at the resources that are available for us to use for promotion.





In the context of the SFO, promotion is the work we do to find new vocations to our Order. In this work we are co-operators with and agents of the Holy Spirit.


There are many reasons why we should try to attract new vocations to the SFO. The following are offered as a good selection:

q       We wish to share the gift of our Franciscan vocation with others.

q       We want to gather companions who will share our journey with us.

q       We want our fraternity to survive into the future when we are gone.

q       We want the SFO to gather strength as a symbol of Christian living.

q       Our General Constitutions encourage us to promote the Order.


Our work of promotion must aim at building up the membership of the SFO — gathering companions for the journey. In our fraternity, this must start with ensuring its viability into the future by attracting new (and younger) members now.


Within the SFO, we can define 'promotion' as follows:

            Promotion comprises those activities that aim to attract people to enquire about joining our SFO fraternity.


The desired outcome of any fraternity promotion is that enquirers (prospective new members) come to a fraternity meeting to learn more about the SFO.





Prospective enquirers must move through certain stages in their knowledge of the Order and the spirituality of its founder, in order to discern their vocation. Our promotion activities must, firstly, attract enquirers and then take them through the early stages of this process to the point where they are open to an invitation to come to a fraternity meeting. Further stages in the discernment of a vocation are then the responsibility of the fraternity through its formation program.


Stages in Promotion of SFO

1.                  Prospective members must become aware that the SFO exists.

(The majority of Catholics would not know about the SFO or even that lay people could become members of an Order)


2.                  Prospective members must then become sufficiently enthused about the SFO and its founder to want to enquire further.

We must stir the emotions of prospective enquirers with our own zeal for the SFO. Their heart should beat faster when they learn of St. Francis and how we find his spirituality relevant to living a truly Christian life in today's world.


If we are to lift our Order above the multitude of good Catholic organizations seeking new members, we need to give prospective members an Emmaus experience: "Were not our hearts burning within us as we walked…" In this critical step we are truly co-operators with the Holy Spirit. As members of the Body of Christ, we are its visible signs and it is our role to work cooperatively with the Holy Spirit, which imbues that body with God's love. When hearts are on fire, the Holy Spirit will choose those souls whom it will prompt to answer, "yes" to an invitation to learn more about their vocation to the SFO.


            How do we build from awareness to enthusiasm? It is here that the practising Secular Franciscan is the most effective promotion resource. Personal testimony — self-disclosure of a member's life experience as a Secular Franciscan— is probably the most Spirit-driven way to reach the heart of a potential vocation.


3.                  Prospective members must be invited to a fraternity meeting.

(An invitation to a fraternity meeting requires that a fraternity member make personal contact with a prospective enquirer.)


This leads us to consider our people (our current fraternity members) because they are our primary promotion resource whose individual contributions are critical.





Article 45.1 of the General Constitutions of the SFO tells us:

            The promotion of vocation to the Order is a duty of all the brothers and sisters and is a sign of the vitality of the Fraternities themselves.


Promotion is clearly a duty of all members of a fraternity. However, every brother and sister is an individual, each having his or her individual gifts to offer. Some, particularly fraternity council members, have a responsibility to lead in the planning and coordinating of activities. Others will willingly offer their services in support of the Council's plans.


Fraternity leaders must remain aware of the duty of all members to participate appropriately in fraternity promotion activities. They should therefore be careful to identify the charisms and skills of all fraternity members. Those members who are unable to provide physical support should provide the prayer support that will be the powerhouse driving the fraternity's promotion activities. For the others, the outcome of their promotion activities should be that they invite to a fraternity meeting those people whose heart the Holy Spirit touches.


The methods that can be used in a fraternity promotion enterprise will be looked at in the next chapter. However, while our members are the primary agents of promotion, we do have one other resource that we can use - our SFO literature.




Let us be clear on three points concerning the function of our literature.


1.      Our literature is very useful for achieving Stage 1, "awareness that the SFO exists" (see "Stages in Promotion of SFO" on page 11). Our posters are designed for this purpose in that they place the name of our Order before all who read them.[1] Our leaflets take this awareness raising a step further by providing more background about the SFO. Leaflets can be produced relatively cheaply and, therefore, can be distributed fairly widely. Twelve leaflets are available, each focussing on certain aspects of the SFO and Secular Franciscan life. These leaflets are listed and briefly described, beginning on the next page.[2]


2.      Literature alone is unlikely to be so inspirational that readers will be filled with a burning desire to enquire about SFO membership (Stage 2 of Promotion). This is more likely to happen when the literature is used in support of personal testimony about the rewards of living the Franciscan life. The leaflets are intended to provide some information to anyone seeking to find out about the SFO and to show them how to contact a Secular Franciscan who can help them further. Our three brochures (briefly described at the end of this chapter) are a more expensive production and provide more detailed information. They should be used more sparingly and are best used as support to personal contact with prospective candidates who have shown a definite interest in the Order.


3.      Literature can provide some details about the presence of a local fraternity, particularly if stamped with the contact details of a Secular Franciscan who is friendly and informative, but it is not effective in inviting a prospective member to a fraternity meeting (Stage 3 of Promotion). An invitation is most effective when delivered person-to-person by a fraternity member.





Literature is a useful support to promotion but it is the person, the committed Secular Franciscan, whose witness can inspire prospective members to respond to the call of the Holy Spirit; and only a person can extend with sincerity and warmth an invitation to join him or her at a fraternity meeting.






Promotional leaflets can be viewed on this web site.




A 30 x 42 cm poster is available from the National Office of the SFO. Its message is:  "Secular Franciscans are Lay people building the Church of the Future in their ordinary daily lives". For further information, contact …(provide space for details).  An orange coloured tau cross provides the background to this poster and its size makes it suitable for places such as church notice boards.

[1] Notice board sized posters are available from the SFO National Office (19a Quirk Street, Rozelle, 2039) for $1 each. Smaller posters can also be produced by artistic people or people with computer skills.

[2] Master copies of the set of twelve leaflets are available from the SFO National Office (19a Quirk Street, Rozelle, 2039) for $5 per set. These masters are good quality print on heavy white paper — suitable for photocopying.