for carrying out the SFO General Constitutions, Art.25

From: Letter to the Assistants, 1996, N. 4

The SFO National Council of Italy, meeting with the Presidency of the Franciscan Youth on 24 July 1995, recognized and approved the following Charter for the Franciscan Children, developed from the Methodological Guidelines approved by the same Council on 24 June 1990, as a document of discernment and as a sign of the responsibility shared by the SFO and Franciscan Youth for the Franciscan vocational proposal made to children.

1. Franciscan Children is the initiation into the Franciscan experience adapted to children and to pre-adolescents so that they may aim at the ideal of the perfect man realized in Jesus Christ, the Word made man, and lived by St Francis of Assisi.

2. Franciscan Children covers two distinct age-groups, with different psychological needs:
a. "Children" (aged 8 to 11), needing an imaginative environment and starting to experience responsibility and commitment.
b. "Juniors" (aged 12 to 14), needing an atmosphere of adventure and of bonding in positive criticism, in commitment, in responsibility and in forms adapted to the service of others and with others. Their Fraternity is made up of small teams.

3. The experience of Franciscan Children is conducted along methodological guidelines:
a. characterized by the secular Franciscan spirituality;
b. directed towards the total growth of the person;
c. paying attention to coeducation, to ensure a positive formation in the complementarity of the two sexes.

4. In order to realize the indications of art.2 and 3, the method of formation of Franciscan Children:
a. translates the commandment of love into a "Law", which sounds like this to the "Children":
1. I love God my Father.
2. I love all the children of God my Father.

To the "Juniors", it sounds like this:
1. I am on the way to discovering God my Father with the help of Jesus Christ who reveals the Father to me in his Gospel.
2. I want to welcome and to use all the gifts that God, the Lord of my life, gives me
(the Word, Sacraments, prayer; relations with others, with Creation, with God).
3. I put all my commitment into overcoming my selfishness and in being simple and humble, generous with others and welcoming them, respecting my home which is Creation and my body which God has given me.
4. I seek every day to do something good for others and with others, even if they do not ask me to do so.
5. I am always loyal and truthful with myself and with everyone so as to merit their trust.

b. commits the member to observe the Law with the Promise:
- for the "Children":
I promise Jesus, my brother and friend, before the entire Fraternity, to do my best to listen to the Law of the "Children" before listening to my own selfish wishes. I am sure that Jesus will help me.
- for the "Juniors":With the help of God, before the Fraternity, I promise to do my best to observe the Law of the "Juniors" in every circumstance and to accept all the help that may come to me from my brothers and sisters to achieve this purpose.

c. develops a way that responds to today's needs of the group and of the individual members, making opportune adjustments.
d. makes much use of games as a formative agent, and so it is always careful that also games, like any other activity, have a precise and authentic purpose, responding to the needs of the children and not only to their requests, and corresponding to their physical, intellectual and psychological possibilities ("to carry out activities with games, but not just for a game").
e. likewise, makes great use of expression (acting, bodily, musical, etc.) to perfect their capacities for communication.
f. initiates them into the spirit of service through a daily act of kindness towards a neighbour.
g. encourages them optimistically to make moral progress with their motto: Always better!.
h. enables them to experience concretely and joyfully the value of gospel poverty, the indispensable prerequisite for recognizing the Lordship of God over all things and for an authentic spirit of fraternity.

5. The official recognition of the Fraternities of the "Children" and of the "Juniors" belongs to the National Presidency. Recognition:
a. can be obtained on the condition that in the Fraternities the method of formation, approved by the National Council on 24 June 1990 and expressed synthetically in this "Charter", be carried out;
b. is granted, on the explicit and formal request of the Regional Presidency, when an Animator is guaranteed who is an adult sufficiently well-prepared and approved by the Regional Presidency.
c. allows every "Junior" and "Child" and to wear the proper emblem recognized by the SFO National Council.