Conference of National
Assistants SFO -
SPIRITUAL ASSISTANCE TO THE NATIONAL
The three branches of the First Order provide spiritual assistance to the SFO in the National Fraternity of Oceania. The Third Order Regular (TOR) is not present in these countries.
Only the Friars Minor have appointed non-friars as local Assistants. Three of these are secular priests and one is a married deacon, all members of the SFO. One local Assistant is a Salesian priest, three are Franciscan Sisters, and one is a Sister of Mercy. One is a professed Secular Franciscan.
friars and ten non-friars assist thirty-seven local Fraternities and three
Capuchin and OFM friars in
are at present 13 SFO local Fraternities, seven around the
With sorrow we record the deaths of former Spiritual Assistants, Fr Cronan Fahey OFMCap and Br Philip Carroll OFM.
formation of new members is undertaken by the individual fraternities under the
guidance of the local Formator. Ongoing formation in the
2006 the retreat was led by Sr Anne-Marie Joyce OSC of the
Regional Executive meets monthly and communicates with the local fraternities
on a regular basis, mainly by email. A Regional Chapter is held each year.
Delegates and Regional Spiritual Assistants attend the annual National Council
or Chapter in
-- Lucian Armstrong OFM and Matthias Murphy
OFMCap, Regional Spiritual Assistants, SFO -
At present, only the OFM Custos is responsible
for assistance to the SFO in
The SFO Regional
Fraternity of St Michael, constituted in 1991, is comprised of seven
established local Fraternities, four of them in
Enquiries have been
made into the possibility of a collaborative effort between the OFM friars and
the SSFS Sisters to introduce the SFO in the state of
Over the last year, the local fraternities in Singapore and Sabah have committed themselves to short-term as well as medium-term (4-5 years) goals for themselves in terms of how they want to grow as individual fraternities, and how they will contribute towards growth of the SFO in their own State.
Both the Regional
Assistants for Singapore-Sabah and for neighbouring
n John Wong OFM, Regional Spiritual Assistant, SFO - Singapore-Sabah.
PAPUA NEW GUINEA
- Tom Ritchie OFM, from an earlier report.
The first colonisers arrived in Papua New Guinea a little over 130 years ago and the first missionaries arrived soon after. Now it is basically a Christian country. More than seventy percent of the population is Christian and half of the Christians are Catholics.
The first OFM friars arrived in PNG in 1946, the first Third Order Regular Sisters arrived about 1952 and the Capuchins also arrived in the 1950’s with other Franciscan Sisters. The first Poor Clares came about 1970. There are now at least five congregations of Franciscan Sisters in PNG.
There was an SFO fraternity formed in Aitape from lay-missionaries in the early 1960’s but the members eventually returned to their countries of origin. The first enduring Fraternity of PNG nationals, was begun in Aitape in 1987 by Fr. Salvator Doherty OFM. A year after his death in 1991, it was canonically erected by the then OFM Provincial Minister and was called the “St. Salvator Fraternity”.
The interest in the SFO is growing quickly. Three of the present Fraternities began almost entirely through the initiatives of lay people who had experience of the SFO. More groups of lay Catholics are requesting the formation of Fraternities in their parishes. The SFO is just beginning but has the potential to be a powerful influence in the Church in PNG and is already a vital and integral part of the Franciscan Family in the country. We are planning our first meeting of Ministers from all fraternities in the city of Lae in September 2007, with a view to moving towards a regional fraternity.
- Norbert Pittorino OFM
CONFERENCE OF NATIONAL ASSISTANTS SFO -
In 2007, the members of the Conference are: David Huebner OFMConv., Carmel Flora OFMCap, and Carl Schafer OFM, who all reside in NSW.
As a Conference, the three National Assistants have been meeting at least four times a year since 1999.
We elect a President and a Secretary for a year at a time. However, we have had difficulty regrouping since late in 2005, when two members, Anthony Fox OFMConv and Patrick Colbourne OFMCap, were replaced.
Relation to SFO National Fraternity
The Conference makes decisions collegially regarding spiritual assistance to the SFO above the local level. We coordinate our spiritual assistance and service to the Oceania National Fraternity and its governing bodies, the National Chapter, Council and Executive.
We take turns at giving our spiritual input at the meetings of the National Executive. Planning the liturgies of the National Chapter and National Council is another regular task of the Conference.
The three National Assistants are individual members of the SFO National Chapter, Council and Executive. We do not function in those governing bodies as a Conference of National Assistants, but we report to them regarding our activities as a Conference and, optionally, as individuals. The President of the Conference is the voting member at SFO Chapters and Councils, in accordance with the General Constitutions, Art.91.2b. We do not vote in elections or in financial matters.
Office of SFO National Secretariat
The National Executive was offered
storage space under the church at Edgecliff. The address of the Office of the
The Conference delegates its members to make pastoral visits to the regional level. Usually, the pastoral visit is combined with the fraternal visit, but occasionally it has been more convenient to make them separately. Sometimes, the pastoral visit includes a Day of reflection or even a Retreat.
Fr Carl, Fr John Wong OFM, Regional
Assistant, and Helen Britton made a combined Visit to the local Fraternities of
Witness at Elections
The Conference settles arrangements with the National Executive for attendance at Regional Elective Chapters.
Meetings of the Conference with Major Superiors of Friars
The Conference arranges a meeting with our Provincial Ministers, to discuss their responsibilities to the SFO and our delegation by them. This is meant to be an annual meeting. It has proved to be difficult for all three National Assistants and all three major Superiors to attend.
Meetings of the SFO National Executive with Major Superiors of Friars
The members of the Conference, as members of the National Executive, try to meet with the friar major Superiors once a year. Not all three major Superiors have managed to attend.
Monthly Spiritual Message
On behalf of the Conference, the
National Assistants take turns in publishing a Monthly Spiritual Message, which the author sends to the Regional
Committees of the National Executive
The members of the Conference are delegated to various National Committees.
National Committee for Evangelization and Promotion
After completing the work on the Manual for Promoting the Secular Franciscan Vocation, this Committee was disbanded in October 2004.
National Committee for Care of Inquirers
Fr Carl prepared a paper, “Care of Inquirers” in an attempt to answer the need to do something positive for isolated inquirers. It was presented to the National Executive. On 18 December, a National Executive Committee was constituted to prepare a working paper on the matter. Guidelines for the Care of Inquirers were approved by the National Council in 2006. The Committee contacted the Regional Executives to appoint Regional Carers.
National Committee for Reviewing Statutes
The National Committee for Reviewing Statutes was given the task of coordinating the results of the discussion groups at the National Chapter in 2004, and of drawing up a position paper on future governance and administration of the National Fraternity. The result was a clarification of the role and functions of a National Secretariat.
The Statutes of the Regional Fraternity of Singapore-Sabah were approved by the National Council in 2006. No other regional statutes have come to us for final review since 2004.
The Statutes of the National Fraternity of Oceania were sent to the Presidency of the International Council, returned for corrections, redrafted, and will be presented to the National Chapter for approval and eventual confirmation by Rome. In the meantime, the National Statutes of 1998 remain in force.
Seminar for Spiritual
The Seminar for Spiritual Assistants appointed since 2003, approved by the Provincial Ministers for 2008, has been postponed owing to WYD in 2008.
Weekend Workshop for Formation of Secular Franciscans as Spiritual Assistants
It is very difficult to find friars or other suitable and prepared persons as spiritual Assistants. Most of the friar Assistants are over 70 years of age and are assisting SFO Fraternities on several levels.
The National Assistants are also
Regional Assistants in
In 2005, the three major Superiors of the friars delegated the Conference to hold a weekend workshop for the formation of Secular Franciscans as Spiritual Assistants. Nominations of candidates were sought from the National Executive and Regional Ministers.
The Conference is organizing a workshop for a small group of Secular Franciscans, on Queens Birthday weekend, June 2007, at the Capuchin Conference Centre, Plumpton NSW. Together with receiving spiritual formation, the participants will decide on a programme of ongoing formation suitable for their Australian conditions. The Provincial Ministers of the friars asked for a budget and have offered financial support.
Franciscan Youth Meeting
World Youth Day 2008
Conference has expressed to the major Superiors the need to coordinate the
plans of the three Orders for WYD08, to be hosted by
St Francis Exhibition 2008
initiative of Holy Spirit Fraternity,
Association of Spiritual Assistance of
The Association of Spiritual Assistants of Oceania meets annually in conjunction with the National Chapter or Council. It is open to all Assistants, but usually only those Assistants attending the Chapter or Council meeting are able to attend. The meeting discusses matters of particular interest to the spiritual Assistants, friars and non-friars, in the SFO National Fraternity of Oceania. The meeting appoints a President and a Secretary for a year.
Carl Schafer OFM
Conference of National
Assistants - SFO,