This 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".





The following difficulties limited the effectiveness of the National Promotion

Committee's plan:


q       Some regional fraternities chose not to participate in the national project, but to continue promoting the secular Franciscan vocation in their own way.


q       Some regional fraternities chose not to participate within the planned time frame, but to do something during 2004.


q       In those regional fraternities where workshops were conducted, some fraternities failed to send any representatives. Some other fraternities failed to send appropriate representatives.


q       Of 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.


The 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.





q       Not 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.


q       Not 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.


q       Many 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.


q       A 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 be welcomed.


q       If 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 promoting vocations.


Promotion 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.





Once a fraternity promotion program is working effectively and we are attracting new enquirers, then other issues become paramount:


q       We 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.


q       We 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.