PROCESS FOR ESTABLISHING A NEW FRATERNITY
(Note: The parts played by the friars are indicated in italics.)
Phase I: Setting up a newly forming group
A newly forming group is one that is exploring the possibility of being established as a Secular Franciscan Fraternity. There may or may not be any professed Secular Franciscans in the group. If those wishing to form a new group belong to a Fraternity, they submit a written request for approval to the Council of that Fraternity. The Council examines the request. If approved, the group is given the status of a "newly forming group". The Minister of the Fraternity informs the Regional Executive Council of the existence and development of the group.
If those wishing to form a new group do not belong to a Fraternity, or desire to be separated from their Fraternity, they submit a written request for approval to the Regional Executive Council, which examines the request. If approved, the group is given the status of a "newly forming group" and is assigned to a sponsoring local Fraternity within the Regional Fraternity. If any of the professed members of the newly forming group are members of other Fraternities, the Minister of the sponsoring Fraternity informs those Fraternities and obtains their official transfer to the sponsoring Fraternity.
If no local Fraternity is available as a sponsor for a given group, the Regional Fraternity - in extraordinary circumstances - acts as the sponsoring Fraternity in accord with Art. 62.2b of the General Constitutions. In such a case, the following steps are taken:
1. The Regional Executive Council carries out all that is ordinarily expected of the Council of the sponsoring local Fraternity.
2. The liaison person of the newly forming group does not attend the Regional Executive Council meeting, but meets regularly with the Minister (or an appointed delegate) of the Regional Fraternity Council.
Once the newly forming group is approved, it:
1.chooses one of its members as leader and begins to meet on its own to build fraternity;
2.provides a member of the group as liaison person to the Council of the sponsoring Fraternity who attends the Council's meetings without the right to vote;
3. requests the appointment of a competent spiritual Assistant by the Provincial Minister (or delegate) of the friar Province to which the sponsoring local Fraternity is bonded. If the Regional Fraternity is the sponsoring Fraternity, then the newly forming group requests spiritual assistance from a friar Province recommended by the Conference of Regional Spiritual Assistants or chosen by its own discernment;
4. appoints a qualified professed member of the newly forming group as Formator. Otherwise, the sponsoring Fraternity or Regional Executive Council will provide a suitable person. In any case, the formation of new members in the newly forming group will be overseen by the formation staff of the sponsoring Fraternity;
5. sends a six-monthly report to the Council of the sponsoring Fraternity;
6. is expected to participate in the activities of the sponsoring Fraternity.
The newly forming group begins a period of building fraternity as a
semi-autonomous section of the sponsoring Fraternity. Included in the meetings
will be the structures and procedures necessary for its operation, including
prayer, formation, communications, and socializing. Opportunities will be sought
for interaction outside the fraternity meetings and regular interaction with
other Franciscans during this time. These structures and procedures are to be
approved by the Council of the sponsoring Fraternity together with an
accompanying system for accountability and evaluation.
Admissions and professions of new members will be approved by the sponsoring Fraternity Council and will be received by the Minister of the sponsoring Fraternity.
The newly forming group begins its first official year of preparation to become an emerging fraternity only after it has a minimum of five professed members.
After the completion of at least one year with five professed members, the newly forming group, after seeking the approval of the sponsoring Fraternity Council, may submit a written request to the Regional Executive Council that it be given the status of "emerging fraternity".
After seeking the status of emerging fraternity, the newly forming group
requests and receives a pastoral and fraternal visit from the regional
level to ascertain its suitability for the status of an emerging fraternity.
Phase II: Developing an emerging fraternity
Upon completion of the pastoral and fraternal visits, the Regional Executive Council examines the request of the newly forming group. If approved, the group is given the status of an emerging fraternity.
The emerging fraternity chooses its own council and starts functioning like a Fraternity, with fraternity meetings, council meetings, and keeping minutes, records and financial accounts.
The leader of the emerging fraternity is admitted to the Council of the
sponsoring Fraternity without the right to vote.
Admission and professions of new members are approved by the council of the emerging fraternity and confirmed by the Council of the sponsoring Fraternity. The Minister of the sponsoring Fraternity has the responsibility of receiving admissions and professions according to the Ritual, but can delegate this responsibility to the leader of the emerging fraternity, if professed. The council of the emerging fraternity provides a written quarterly report for the sponsoring Fraternity and the Regional Executive Council.
The council of the emerging fraternity enters into a formal (written) agreement of altius moderamen with a friar Province by establishing a formal bond with that Province of friars which would best serve the permanent viability of the emerging fraternity and by asking for the appointment of a spiritual Assistant by that Province. Ordinarily the emerging fraternity chooses the friar Province bonded to the sponsoring local Fraternity unless the Regional Fraternity is the sponsor. It may happen that the emerging fraternity discerns that spiritual assistance would be better provided by a different friar Province of any of the four obediences.
The four obediences that have the right of canonically establishing a local Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order, and the responsibility of providing spiritual assistance, and of making pastoral visits are the following: Friars Minor, Friars Minor Capuchin and Friars Minor Conventual, and a particular Third Order Regular whose Minister General resides at the Church of Saints Cosmas and Damian, in Rome. This particular Order is not present in Oceania. (See GC 85.1 and footnote ).
The friar Provincial Minister (or delegate) informs the local bishop
about the existence and development of an emerging fraternity in his diocese.
The Regional Executive Council informs the National Executive Council of the existence and development of an emerging fraternity, the place of meeting and the contact person.
The emerging fraternity establishes for itself the structures and procedures necessary for:
1. its operation (including prayer, ongoing formation, ministries, communications, socializing);
2. vocation promotion;
3. formation of aspirants and candidates;
4. opportunities of interaction outside the fraternity meetings;
5. regular interaction with SFO Fraternities and other Franciscans.
These structures and procedures are to be endorsed by the Council of the sponsoring Fraternity and approved by the Regional Executive Council together with an accompanying system for accountability and evaluation.
After at least three years, the emerging fraternity may submit a written
request to the Regional Executive Council for its canonical establishment as a
Before it accedes to the request, the Regional Executive Council authorizes a fraternal visit of the emerging fraternity, and the Conference of Regional Spiritual Assistants authorizes a pastoral visit in conjunction with the friar Province to which the emerging fraternity is bonded. The visits are to ascertain the fraternity's permanent viability for life in fraternity, its faithful observance of the Rule and Constitutions, and its proper compliance in regards to minutes, records, registers, and finances.
Phase III: Canonically establishing a Fraternity
Upon the completion of the pastoral and fraternal visits, the Regional Executive Council examines the request of the emerging fraternity to be canonically established. If approval is given, the following steps are taken:
1. the Regional Executive Council informs in writing the friar Provincial Minister (or his delegate) that the emerging fraternity is ready to be established. The friar Provincial Minister (or delegate), in his turn, requests the bishop's permission in writing to establish the new Fraternity in his diocese;
2. the Regional Executive Council, providing the necessary information, requests and obtains from the Conference of National Spiritual Assistants four copies of the formal document of establishment. The regional Minister signs and dates the four copies and passes them on to the friar Provincial Minister (or delegate);
3.the friar Provincial Minister (or delegate) signs and dates the four copies of the document and obtains the signature of the bishop.
4. the emerging fraternity arranges for the ceremony of canonical establishment in conjunction with the Regional Executive Council, the friar Provincial Minister (or delegate), and, where customary, the bishop;
5. the Regional Executive Council confirms for one year the council of the
emerging fraternity as the first Council of the new local Fraternity in accord
with Art.49.1 of the SFO General Constitutions (omitted from the amended text!).
The ceremony of canonical establishment is celebrated with due solemnity according to the Ritual. During the ceremony, the four copies of the document are signed and dated by the delegate of the friar Minister Provincial and by the witnesses.
After the ceremony:
1. one copy is sent to the Regional Council to be kept in its archives, one copy is sent to the archives of the friar Province, a third copy is sent to the diocesan chancery for filing, and the fourth copy is preserved in the newly established Fraternity's records;
2. the regional Minister informs the National Executive Council of the
canonical establishment of the new Fraternity.
One year after the canonical establishment, the new Fraternity holds its first Chapter of election of its Council. The regional Minister presides at the elections and a member of the Conference of Regional Spiritual Assistants is present as a witness of the communion between the religious and secular Franciscans.