HAVE WE LEARNT?
chapter summarises the experience of the National Committee for Evangelization
and Promotion in conducting the five regional workshops on promoting vocations
to the Secular Franciscan Order. It summarises also the initial experiences of
regional and local fraternities in applying the ideas about promoting the
secular Franciscan vocation that were presented in the workshops and are
included in this Manual. These ideas were first presented to fraternities in
the forerunner to this Manual, which was the handbook titled, "Workshop
on Promoting the Order".
following difficulties limited the effectiveness of the National Promotion
regional fraternities chose not to participate in the national project, but to
continue promoting the secular Franciscan vocation in their own way.
regional fraternities chose not to participate within the planned time frame,
but to do something during 2004.
those regional fraternities where workshops were conducted, some fraternities
failed to send any representatives. Some other fraternities failed to send
the fraternities that did report on their 2003 promotion project, most had
aimed only to raise people's awareness of the SFO. Very few attempted to
follow the procedures outlined in the workshop handbook for trying to inspire
people through a speaker or event and then inviting them to come to a meeting.
promotion workshops were effective only to the extent that each of the
participants went back to their fraternities and convinced their fraternity
members of the urgency to promote vocations. After visits made to some local
fraternities where at least one member had attended a workshop, it could be
said that the workshop had had little impact. The participant had not
communicated much to the local Fraternity. In some others, the local Minister
was not interested in the Workshop because the fraternity had conducted a
promotion drive earlier. In a few other fraternities, the person who had
attended the workshop had turned the members around from having little
interest in the promotion of vocations to being enthusiastic about planning a
future promotion program.
all regional fraternities are good at participating in national projects. They
are not all aware of the ramifications of being part of the National
Fraternity of Oceania.
all local Fraternities are good at participating in regional projects. The
awareness of belonging to the Secular Franciscan Order often does not exceed
an awareness of belonging to a local fraternity.
secular Franciscans believe that vocations are solely a gift of the Holy
Spirit and that they, themselves, have no part to play in seeking them.
successful promotion project will usually be centred on an event to which
prospective new members are invited. The critical phases are, therefore, the
quality of the invitations (ideally, they should be difficult to refuse), and
the quality of the event (it should be inspiring). While the underlying
purpose of the promotion is to attract enquirers to come to a fraternity
meeting, the outward focus should be on inspiring those who come to the
promotion to want to follow Jesus Christ in the footsteps of Saint Francis. It
is when they are thus inspired that an invitation to a fraternity meeting will
a Fraternity is to have a future, its fraternity Council will need to allot an
amount of time and effort to gathering new companions for the Franciscan
journey. The promoters will need to speak the language of the people whom they
aim to interest in the SFO. Next, they will need to understand and appreciate
where these people are coming from. Then, they will need to plan their
program, and pledge to put aside a significant amount of time for the work of
projects, however, should not be judged solely on the number of new enquirers
attracted to a fraternity meeting. A good promotion has performed a worthwhile
evangelising function if the audience has learned more about, and is inspired
by, the way Saint Francis and his followers understood the truth of Jesus'
message as they read it in the Gospels. The promotion project is worthwhile
if, as a result, a larger audience better understands Franciscan spirituality
and the opportunities for lay people to follow in the footsteps of St.
Francis. Any new enquirers that come to a fraternity meeting are a bonus.
a fraternity promotion program is working effectively and we are attracting
new enquirers, then other issues become paramount:
must ensure that our fraternity meetings are well planned and conducted. They
must fulfil the expectations of the new enquirer. They must be interesting,
informative and spiritually rewarding.
must also ensure that our fraternity formation program is well planned and
well conducted. It must fulfil the candidate's desire to learn and develop a
Franciscan spirituality that is life giving and joyful.
The National Committee for Evangelisation and Promotion sincerely thanks those who attended our workshops and contributed generously to their success. We also thank those regional executives and local fraternity councils who have followed up the workshops and have shared their experiences with us. These have contributed greatly to the value of this Manual.