LOCAL SPIRITUAL ASSISTANT
1. Who the local spiritual Assistant IS NOT:
1.1 not normally a professed member of the Secular Franciscan Order. However, if he or she is a Secular Franciscan, then the spiritual Assistant is preferably not a member of the local Fraternity;
1.2 not a factor of control in the fraternity:
1.21 does not have a final say or veto in the internal government, organization, elections or disposition of finances;
1.22 does not direct the ordinary administration or business of the fraternity (not a "director");
1.23 not the "majordomo" or "odd jobs” person of the fraternity;
1.24 does not act as the spokesperson for the fraternity;
1.25 does not run the fraternity by imposing own will, opinions, preferences, or decisions on the members.
1.3 The local spiritual Assistant is not a passive element in the fraternity:
1.31 does not merely exercise a sacramental role in the fraternity (like a "chaplain"), if he is a priest;
1.32 is not divorced from the life and activity of the fraternity (e.g., absent from council meetings, from community discussions, from formation sessions, from elections although without a vote).
2. Who the local spiritual Assistant IS:
2.1 a member of the fraternity Council with a vote (except in elections and financial questions) and “collaborates with it in all activities (cf. GC 90.2; Stat.Assist.12.3), participating in its meetings and work in accordance with the law proper to the SFO, and providing the spiritual dimension to leadership and the Franciscan dimension to service;
2.2 responsible for "cooperating in the initial and continuing formation of the secular Franciscans" (cf. GC 90.1 and Stat.Assist. 13.1) as counsellor and resource person;
2.3 a servant to the whole fraternity, with the responsibility of active participation and the right of active voice, in order to "foster the communion with the Church, guaranteeing the integrity of faith and ecclesiastical discipline” (see CCL 305; GC 85.2).
2.4 If the Assistant is a friar, he gives “witness of Franciscan spirituality and of the fraternal affection of the religious towards the secular Franciscans and to be a bond of communion between his Order and the SFO” ( GC 89.3), and provides the necessary pastoral and spiritual care on behalf of the friar province responsible for providing spiritual assistance.
2.5 If the Assistant is not a friar, he or she reminds the SFO Fraternity of the bond of communion between the Franciscan Order and the SFO.
3. Qualities of a Spiritual Assistant: a "suitable and well prepared" person (SFO Rule 26):
3.1 Suitable (striving for the ideal):
3.11 a Christocentric person;
3.12 a person of prayer, mature in one's own vocation;
3.13 a person of peace in oneself and a peace-maker;
3.14 a credible witness to Christian faith and to the Franciscan vocation;
3.15 a person enthused about the SFO, about living and sharing one's own vocation;
3.16 a brother/sister who accompanies the Secular Franciscans on their pilgrimage;
3.17 a person with pastoral devotedness and a pastoral approach to ministry;
3.18 a person with basic communication skills for teaching and sharing.
3.2 Well prepared: open and understanding:
3.21 in liturgy, ecclesiology, and the role of the laity;
3.22 in Franciscan history and spirituality, especially regarding the SFO;
3.23 in the contemporary application and integration of the above disciplines.
4. The Responsibilities of the local Spiritual Assistant: pastoral (with particular application to clergy), fraternal (with particular application to laity), ecumenical, and inter-religious:
4.1 Pastoral: to facilitate the spiritual growth of the fraternity members:
4.11 to develop a Christocentric life according to the SFO Rule; i.e., to develop spirituality, build community, foster life-style, and empower the members for evangelization:
a) through the availability of Word and Sacrament;
b) through conferences, exhortations, homilies, prayer;
c) through presence and advice, esp. at council meetings;
d) through fraternal sharing of one's own life, faith-journey, and vocation;
e) through individual spiritual direction when necessary;
f) through exercising a prophetic role in the community (i.e., challenging the members to develop creativity and ability to take risks).
4.12 to assist in the formation of new members and to facilitate the continuing education of the professed as a resource person for content and methodology, as a catalyst in training the formation team, and as an evaluator of the formation program and team;
4.13 to give official witness of the Church and of the Franciscan Family at receptions and professions.
4.2 Fraternal: to foster the common bond of unity in the Franciscan Family:
4.21 representing by presence and activity the common striving for holiness, the common participation in the same charism, and common efforts at evangelization among all who are called to follow Francis and Clare;
4.22 promoting interactivity among the members of the Franciscan Family:
a) between the various levels of fraternity in the SFO;
b) between Franciscan Religious and Secular Franciscans.
4.3 Ecumenical: to foster rapport and collaboration with groups akin to the Secular Franciscans:
4.31 with other secular orders (e.g., Carmelite, Dominican, Benedictine, Servite, etc.) or “third orders” (cf. CCL 303);
4.32 laity encountered in other ministries, especially movements of spirituality and "public associations of the faithful" (CCL 312-320), such as Marriage Encounter, Charismatic Movement, Cursillo, Knights of the Southern Cross, Legion of Mary, St. Vincent De Paul Society, youth groups, etc.;
4.33 other denominations, especially those who look to St Francis as their spiritual guide (e.g., Anglican Franciscans, Lutheran Franciscans).
4.4 Inter-religious: to foster rapport and collaboration with individuals and groups of followers of non-Christian religions:
4.41 with special reference to Muslims, after the example of St Francis and according to his method (cf. Rule of 1221, Ch. 16).