The Need for Promotion Workshops


            Our secular Franciscan vocation is a precious gift of the Holy Spirit ó a pearl of great price, which we are duty-bound to display for the benefit of others. In fact, we are called to promote this vocation among other Catholics as an essential part of our living the Rule of the Order. We may do this individually; but we should also promote our Order collectively, using the combined talents of our local fraternity members, working as a team in their sphere of influence within the local Church.


            Promotion is a task that conjures up thoughts of mass marketing and boisterous advertising. It is necessary, therefore, that we put the promotion of our Franciscan vocation into a context that is worthy of the Most High God whom we are serving. Few Secular Franciscans will feel at ease, much less feel confident, about promoting the Order publicly. Most of us have a natural reticence about proclaiming publicly the "good" with which we have been blessed. These things are personal and the subject of private prayers of thanks and praise. Yet, like Israel of old, we should sometimes join the Psalmists in publicly expressing our gratitude to God and sing aloud the praises of his wondrous deeds. We can give thanks that we have been chosen by the Holy Spirit to walk in the footsteps of Saint Francis in carrying Christ's message to others. We do this in our daily life, but we are also called to evangelise outside our close circle of friends and acquaintances ó to take the message of his love to others, knowing that his Holy Spirit is always with us on this journey.


            To prepare us for this task it is useful that members of our local fraternities be adequately informed about promoting the secular Franciscan vocation. Well-informed Secular Franciscans, working as a team, can achieve much. A good way to mould teams and inform fraternity members about promoting the Order is to conduct workshops for them that are based on the contents of this manual.[1]



A Suggestion for a Workshop Program


            The experience of the National Committee for Evangelisation and Promotion was that a one-day workshop of about six hours duration is necessary to cover adequately the essential topics. A suggested program is shown on the next page in a format suitable for giving to participants (the names of speakers can be added). The program can be expanded to allow more discussion time or to practise groups in planning, if travel times for participants and other constraints allow a longer working day.


A Workshop Handbook can be compiled by photocopying appropriate material from this Manual. This Handbook should be of loose-leaf form so that pages can be added as the workshop proceeds through the day.













Companions for the Journey












  9.30am                     Welcome and Opening Prayer


  9.35 am                    The Need for a Promotion Program


10.00am                     Promotion Resources


10.40am                     Morning Tea Break


11.00am                     Methods of Promotion (including discussion groups)


12.15pm                     Lunch Break


  1.15pm                     How to Plan a Fraternity Promotion


  2.00pm                     Discussion Groups


  3.00pm                     Where do we go from here?


  3.30pm                     Close





Some notes for the presenters of each session of the Suggested Program follow.



The Need for a Promotion Program


            Chapters 1 and 2 of this Manual provide the essentials for this short presentation.


            It is suggested that the presenter withhold handing out the notes from Chapter 1 until after the presentation. This will allow a verbatim presentation, is desired, without the participants following the talk from the notes.


            It is suggested that the presenter include in the Workshop Handbook, the Membership Statistics pertaining to the Regional Fraternity in question. This will permit participants to see the answers to the questions regarding membership trends posed in Chapter 2.



Promotion Resources


In presenting this session, the National Promotion Committee presenter used a felt board as a visual aid to highlight key points. Initially the board was empty ó just a gold-coloured felt covering. When the session started, the title (on cardboard) was placed in the top right hand corner (Velcro or sandpaper will hold the cardboard to the felt). As the session progressed, additional cardboard elements were added as appropriate. The picture below shows the board at the conclusion of the presentation.

(Note: the picture is not provided here.)


            The notes for this presentation can be found in Chapter 3 of this Manual. It is important that the following points come across strongly in this session:


1.                  In order for visiting enquirers to come to a fraternity meeting, they must have already passed through certain stages in their association with the SFO. Firstly, they must have heard or read about the SFO and, finally, they must have been invited by someone to come to the fraternity meeting. Critically though, in between, they must have been inspired to accept the invitation by what they had learnt about the SFO. This inspiration is much more likely to derive from personal contact with a Franciscan, than from reading some literature.


2.                  Literature is useful for awareness raising and for supporting the people who are promoting the secular Franciscan vocation. Samples of the available SFO literature listed in Chapter 3 should be on hand to support this presentation, and available for participants to purchase before they leave the workshop.


The felt board or other visual aid that is used for this presentation may usefully be left on show until lunchtime.



Methods of Promotion


            It is suggested that someone with personal experience of conducting an SFO promotion introduce this session. Some anecdotes from this experience provide a good way of introducing the topic of "methods". After this five-minute introduction the presenter should give everyone about ten minutes in which to read Chapter 4 of this Manual, which should be in their Workshop Handbook.


            The next forty minutes should be devoted to a consideration of this topic in discussion groups. It is suggested that members of the same fraternity should work together on this topic, but two fraternities may work together if this is necessary to make up a group. Groups should, ideally, be of four to eight people in number.


            A suitable "Discussion Group Questions" pro forma is provided on the next page. It can be handed to participants as they assemble in their groups or it can be in their Handbook. Someone from the workshop organising committee should sit in with each group as secretary. One of the workshop participants should chair each group to ensure that appropriate time is allocated to each question and that all group members have an opportunity to contribute.


            At the conclusion of the discussion time there should be ten to fifteen minutes remaining for reports from the groups. These reports should be given by the group secretaries and cover the highlights of the discussions.


The wind-up of this session is a good time for the session presenter to reinforce some key points. Some suggestions are:

q       we should talk about our membership of the SFO to other Catholics;

q       we should never be afraid to ask people to visit our meetings;

q       we really need to be imaginative if our promotions are to lift people's perception of the SFO to a point where their enthusiasm for exploring it further exceeds their enthusiasm for the many alternative ways in which they can seek spiritual fulfilment.





Methods of Promotion


1.                  Which of these methods of promotion can you adopt?


(a)   as an individual.









(b)   as a fraternity











2.                  What other methods can you suggest for your particular situation?


(a)   as an individual.









(b)   as a fraternity









How to Plan a Fraternity Promotion


            In presenting this session, the National Promotion Committee presenter used a felt board as a visual aid to highlight key points. Initially the board was empty ó just a gold-coloured felt covering. When the session started, the title (printed on cardboard) was placed in the top right hand corner (Velcro or sandpaper will hold the cardboard to the felt) and the three steps to effective promotion were placed on the top left hand side so as to keep these important points before the participants. As the session progressed, additional cards were added as appropriate. The picture below shows the board at the conclusion of the presentation.

(Note: the picture is not provided here.)


The content of this session may be found in Chapter 5 of this Manual and should be included in the Workshop Handbook.


            Planning is a rather erudite subject and presenters may experience some difficulty in presenting it to a tired audience after lunch. Using the "question and answer" technique to involve the participants in building up the presentation with you is one way to keep them alert.

            Experience tells us that few secular Franciscans are likely to be experienced at formal planning. Most people understand the need to think through any major activity they want to conduct, but they are most likely to rely on previous experience to tell them how they should go about it and their memory (or some sketchy notes) to hold the details of their plan. A formal step-by-step planning process such as that proposed in Chapter 5, and the writing down of the plan, is an ideal. We should realise, however, that with some fraternities this ideal might have to be trimmed to suit the scale of the promotion project and the capacities of the planning team members. Nevertheless, the key steps in the planning process should be taught and the need for good planning highlighted.


            The presenter of this session should keep the key points in mind and reinforce them in a final summary:


q       planning should be a team project for which the Fraternity Council is responsible;

q       planning should begin early;

q       follow the step-by-step process outlined;

q       be imaginative for we want to inspire people through Saint Francis;

q       write down the plan and keep everyone informed;

q       remember that the time spent in planning will be amply rewarded by a good outcome.



Discussion Groups


            This session may be introduced by the presenter of the "How to Plan" session just finished. A suitable "Discussion Group Questions" pro forma is provided on the next page. It can be handed to participants as they assemble in their groups or it can be in their Handbook.


            The purpose of this group discussion period is to allow participants to review what they have heard during the day and to analyse the meaning for them and their fraternity. There will doubtlessly be questions to obtain clarification on some points. There will be issues to discuss, such as overcoming inertia in some fraternities resulting from age, smallness of number and lack of leadership. There will be enthusiasm for making a new effort to promote the SFO vocation and energy for beginning now.


            While not essential, it is probably a good idea to retain the same groups as worked together in the morning session on Methods of Promotion. Again, one member of the group should chair the discussion while one of the organising committee should take notes and summarise key points during the reporting session.


            After allowing about five minutes to take a breath following the previous session and to get organised in groups, there should be about forty minutes available for discussing the set questions and up to fifteen minutes for reporting.


            This reporting session is a time when the workshop organising team can answer issues that have arisen and clarify any misunderstandings, doubts and concerns that participants still have. This session is a good opportunity to reinforce the enthusiasm of participants and to lead in to the final session "Where do we go from here?"





1.                  What steps does your local Fraternity need to take in order to conduct its own program for promoting SFO vocations?













2.                  What problems do you foresee in carrying out a program in your Fraternity for promoting SFO vocations? How can you solve them?














3.                  What are the benefits of the approach to promoting vocations that has been presented to you today?















Where do we go from here?


Following is the text of the final presentation of the Workshops delivered by the National Promotion Committee.  It was presented by the same presenter that opened the Workshop with the presentation on "The Need for a Promotion Program". It is suggested that this text be used as the basis of the final presentation when others deliver promotion workshops.





You have good reason to be concerned about the future of the SFO. You will create your future from a position of poverty rather than abundance. Your fraternities are smaller and older.


The age-profile statistics are unsettling. But give yourselves five years of serious and sustained action to turn them around (here you can quote your Region's figures from Chapter 2, for example: from a 28% decrease in numbers to a 28% increase). Letís look at them again in five yearsí time.


Vocation promotion is all about uncovering Godís initiative in peopleís lives and fostering their response. Itís helping practising Catholics to discover and develop the purpose that God has in mind for them.


Many good Catholics assume that they lack whatever it takes to be a Secular Franciscan. What would make them join? It may be as simple as this: you ask them to join.


Have you ever invited anyone to join your local Fraternity? Ask yourself this question: "What will I do, in a personal way, to promote even one vocation to my local fraternity?"


Some will still object: "What about the action of the Holy Spirit? Isnít God the source of all Church vocations?" Appeals to the action of the Holy Spirit and citing God as the source of Church vocations has become an excuse for contributing little, if anything, to the hard work of securing new members for the SFO. Godís action is a given in this area; but your human efforts, as the living Body of the Risen Christ, are equally important.


Secular Franciscans as such are almost invisible in Australia, even in the Catholic Church. You will help remedy that situation by opening your local fraternities and sharing your faith and your lives with relatives, friends, and total strangers.


People are looking for two things: a shared life and a vibrant spirituality. You offer them fraternity. They will be attracted by your trying to share your lives and your Catholic faith, and by your witness to reconciliation and peace.


Tell them your stories: why you came to the SFO, what makes you stay, what you enjoy about it. Invite them personally to consider your Franciscan way of life as a possibility for themselves. Be for them what we are all meant to be: Good News.


Communicate to them your confidence in Godís presence and guidance, and your conviction that the Secular Franciscan Order has a future. Encourage one another to be as generous and involved as possible in the SFOís life and mission.


Evangelization is your Christian and Franciscan mission. Your lifeís work is to love God and to make God known and loved, as St Francis did.


Take up the challenge of your Franciscan mission right now and take it back to your Fraternity. This vocations promotion workshop will be effective only to the extent that each of you convinces your fraternity members of the urgency to promote vocations.


Are you ready to turn your fraternity around, if necessary? Are you committed to helping the fraternity Council to form a vocations promotion team?


Your fraternity Council will need to allot an amount of time and effort to gathering new companions for the Franciscan journey, if your Fraternity is to have a future. You will need to speak the language of the people whom you aim to interest in the SFO. Next, work to understand and appreciate where these people are coming from. Then, plan your programme and pledge to put aside a significant amount of time for the work of promoting vocations.


We of your Regional Vocations Promotion Committee thank you for your generosity in attending this workshop.


Local Fraternity Vocation Promoters should keep your Regional Promoter informed of your activities. If the Regional Promoter hears nothing from you, he or she should contact you.


So, where do we go from here? Your initial task is to bring your enthusiasm about promoting new vocations to your Fraternity Council. The steps to be taken now are essentially:


1.      Form a fraternity Promotion Team.

2.      Begin planning your first new promotion (refer to "How to Plan a Fraternity Promotion" in your workshop handbook).

3.      Conduct at least one well-planned promotion this year.

4.      Review how the promotion goes (what worked; what didn't; what were the lessons learnt?).

5.      Write a report for your fraternity's benefit, as a guide to planning future promotions, and share it with the Regional Promoter.

6.      Conduct further promotions over the next five years, learning and improving as you go.


What is the primary challenge that the Secular Franciscans in Oceania face today? It is to have the faith, the hope, and the passionate drive to bring to life the future that God has in mind for you and your secular Franciscan way of life. So let us go from here today with a firm commitment to respond to this challenge. Let us go forth with faith and hope, and the passionate drive to find new 'companions for the journey'.


[1] It is considered that the following fraternity members should participate in a promotion workshop: Minister, Vocations Promoter, available Councillors, and other interested members.