Having identified the need to promote the SFO and having looked at the resources and methods available to fraternities for promoting vocations, it is now time to look at how to plan a local fraternity promotion.  From the start, it should be said that there are many ways in which this planning can be done. The following is an outline of one way, which has a good chance of success because it is both flexible and thorough. It allows a fraternity's particular situation and circumstances to be taken into account and it follows a simple step-by-step logic.


Planning is a matter of making decisions about what is to be done, and making those decisions in an orderly manner. In this case, we are to make decisions about how a fraternity should go about seeking new vocations to the Secular Franciscan way of life, with a view to adding to its membership.





The Rule of the SFO (Rule 21) says: "…each fraternity is animated and guided by a council and minister." Again, the General Constitutions of the SFO (Article 45.2) says: "Although nothing can substitute for the witness of each member and of the fraternity, the councils must adopt appropriate means to promote the secular Franciscan vocation".  Therefore, the Fraternity Council, led by its minister, has the responsibility for planning ("animating and guiding") fraternity activities, including the activity of promoting the Order.


A fraternity may appoint one of its members to be its vocations promoter, but this person's role is primarily to be a point of contact for communications about promotion and to be a key person in animating and guiding the fraternity to carry out its promotion responsibilities. The vocations promoter's role is to work with the Fraternity Council, which has overall responsibility for planning the fraternity's promotion activities.


While a plan can be drafted by an individual and then discussed with and agreed to by the Council, it is usually a better process for the whole Council to work collaboratively on developing the plan. Not only is the collective wisdom of the Council utilised but also all the members are involved in the project from the beginning and each is fully aware of the reasoning behind the agreed plan and precisely what has to be done.


If it is not possible for all the Fraternity Council to participate in the planning, the Fraternity Council should appoint a promotion team to carry out this task. This team should comprise some councillors (at least the Minister and the Vocations Promoter) and other interested fraternity members. The promotion team is responsible to the Council.





A suitable step-by-step process for planning a fraternity promotion project is as follows. While each step is important and is described fairly fully, the degree of formal attention given to each step can vary according to the size and characteristics of both the project and the promotion team.



STEP 1 — State the aim of the promotion


A clear 'aim' helps ensure that everyone involved in the project is working towards the same objective. It also allows the Fraternity Council, when the project is completed, to assess whether or not it was a success. Comparing the results achieved with the objectives set does this.


The aim can be expressed as either a broad objective (e.g. "Our aim is to attract new inquirers to our fraternity") or as a more specific outcome (e.g. Our aim is to attract mid-aged Catholics to our fraternity from St. Anne's Parish").


The more specific the aim — for example, by closely defining the target audience — the more focussed can be the promotion (e.g. approaches can be focused on a particular age group and confined to a particular parish).


Setting the aim is critical. A clear and agreed aim is the essential starting point for planning. The promotion team should identify and discuss the possibilities, and then agree on one of them.


It is not necessary to achieve everything desired in one promotion project. There will be further opportunities later. The essential thing is that the team believes that the agreed aim for the current project is realistic and achievable.



STEP 2 — Identify useful resources


Make a list of the resources that the fraternity can use in its promotion project.


Resources can be divided into (A) people and (B) material (primarily literature).


When looking at the people in your fraternity, note beside each name the particular skills that the person can offer. Skills include praying[1], offering encouragement, organising, liaising with people, speaking to groups, administrative work, manual work, hosting visitors, writing letters and many more.


When looking at the material that can be used, consider those posters, leaflets, booklets and the like, that were mentioned in Chapter 3, together with anything more to which your fraternity has access. Those things that will most likely help achieve the aim of the promotion should be noted.



STEP 3 — Identify possible methods


Consider the list of fraternity promotion methods that were outlined in Chapter 4.


Knowing the aim of the promotion (particularly who the target audience is) and the people and material that are available to implement it, look down the list of possible methods and rule out those that are obviously inappropriate or for which the fraternity does not have the required resources. Of course, the team may add to this list from its own ideas on methods of promotion. A short list of possible promotion methods will result.


            It is important when selecting methods of promotion to remember that the target audience (your prospective enquirers) must be taken through the preliminary stages of vocation discernment (awareness - enthusiasm - invitation) described in Chapter 3.



STEP 4 — Choose from among the options


Choosing from among the options is not necessarily a matter of eliminating all but one option. It might be that a fraternity has the resources to embark on a project that uses a number of methods simultaneously. What is required at this stage is to prioritise the available options so that the best and most workable can be identified.


The way to do this is for the planning team to look at the methods on their list of 'possibles', one by one. The team should consider each method of promotion and note the points for and against it. The process of working through each method should include (1) a check of the fraternity resources (people and materials) required to make it work; (2) identification of any approvals required from people outside the fraternity (e.g. the local parish priest) and an estimate of the prospects of his cooperation; (3) an estimate of how good a coverage it will give of the target audience; and (4) an estimate of how well the method will achieve the three preliminary stages of vocation discernment (awareness - enthusiasm - invitation).


After all methods on the list have been examined in this way, it is most likely that the team will be able to agree on which are the most promising methods and which are the least promising. They should then be able to agree on a listing of methods in order of likely effectiveness. If there is a method that would be chosen except for uncertainty about some aspect of it (e.g. the cooperation of the local parish priest) then, time permitting; try to resolve the uncertainty before making the final choice of method.


Ultimately, having considered all of the prevailing circumstances, the team will have a list with the most preferred methods of promotion at the top. Looking at its resources, the team must then decide whether to undertake one or more of these methods in its promotion project. It is good to use all available resources but your people resources should not be stretched to a point where they are overworked and risk becoming ineffective.


It is better to do a little effectively than to try too much and fail. Promotion must be an ongoing activity if our fraternities are to survive; and so there will be future opportunities to do further promotion with new target audiences or using other methods.



STEP 5 — Write down your promotion plan in detail


It is desirable that the detailed promotion plan be written down so that all involved can read what is to be done. The plan will start with a brief statement of its aim and the method to be used. It should then list all the tasks that must be undertaken in order to make the plan work (these can be grouped into tasks to be undertaken before, during and after the main promotion event). The plan should state when, where, how and by whom each task is to be done. Such a plan may take the following form:


AIM                  Include who the target audience is.


METHOD:      Broadly describe the promotion method to be used. Mention key times and locations.


(Example: We aim to attract mid-aged Catholic enquirers to our fraternity by holding an "Hour of Reflection on the Franciscan Charism" following the 9.00 am Mass in St. Anne's Parish on Sunday 5th October.)


TASKS:            Preparation phase

a.   List the tasks that need to be carried out and the people responsible for them.


q       check that the day chosen to conduct the program is suitable; nominate who will do the checking;

q       ensure that the preferred venue is available; nominate who will make sure;

q       list the material resources needed, how many of each item and who will provide them;

q       list the notices, letters, invitations etc. that need to be prepared and who will attend to them;

q       select speakers and discuss their topics with them;

q       plan for morning tea, distribution of literature etc.


b.   Note who will be responsible for coordinating the preparations.


c.   Identify any assistance that the team would like from their Regional Executive and who will ask for it.[2]


            On the day

            List the tasks that need to be carried out and the people responsible for them, e.g.

q       preparation of the venue

q       briefing of speakers

q       reception of visitors and distribution of literature

q       provision of morning tea

Include for each task:

q       location and timings

q       support being provided (e.g. overhead projector, literature etc.)



Follow-up phase

a.       Note arrangements for a follow-up meeting to review the promotion project and identify the lessons learnt.

b.       Mention any reports required from those involved.



STEP 6 — Communication


Once the plan is written down, it is a good idea to give copies to everyone involved for them to read. Then everyone involved should come together so that the planning team can go through the plan with them. Everyone should have the opportunity to ask questions for clarification and to offer ideas for improving details of the plan. This meeting will also allow matters of coordination between those involved to be resolved. For a large project, other meetings may be necessary to monitor the progress of preparations and to finalise last minute matters before the day of the promotion. Following the promotion another meeting should be held with all involved to review the outcomes and the lessons learnt.





            Good planning is a team responsibility and necessitates that the team members should work together comfortably and cooperatively. Planning should start early so that the project is well thought out and there is adequate time for all the details to be given proper attention. If the team is rushing to meet a tight deadline, members are likely to be stressed and the project is likely to be less effective than it would otherwise be.


Teamwork requires meetings, but meeting time can be minimised if individual team members work between meetings on those aspects of the plan for which they are responsible.


What Fraternity Councils must understand is that adequate time must be given to the whole planning process. The time devoted to the planning of a promotion project will prove to be the most beneficial contribution to the project's success. Time spent in planning will be justly rewarded. Good planning will help prevent misadventures on the day of the major promotion event and will maximise the likelihood that the event will run smoothly and effectively.

[1] Article 45.1 of the General Constitutions of the SFO says: "… The brothers and sisters, convinced of the validity of the Franciscan way of life, should pray that God may give the grace of the Franciscan vocation to new members".

[2] The Regional Executive may be able to provide coordination between fraternities that are conducting promotion projects cooperatively (in which case the promotion might be considered a regional project); it may be able to provide awareness-raising articles for publication in Catholic newspapers; or it may be able to provide guest speakers for the fraternity promotion. Complementary media material that is read by the target audience at the time of the fraternity promotion can enhance and add depth to the promotion project.