Secular Franciscan Order

Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis

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Press Release

The International Fraternity of the OFS today voted to have permanent offices for formation, communication and JPIC (Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation) with the aim of improving the functioning of these areas and decentralizing the management of the CIOFS Presidency.

In the first case, the intention is to better coordinate the work carried out at the international level in regard to both initial and on-going formation, with the ultimate goal of deepening the sense of identity and belonging to the OFS.

Regarding JPIC, a secretariat will be established to coordinate activities and to collaborate with other organizations in the Franciscan Family with similar areas of interest.

Finally, a communications office will be established to bring the life of the international fraternity closer to the brothers and sisters scattered around the world.

The above are measures approved by the General Chapter to improve the management of the Secular Franciscan Order in its entirety. In addition, the Chapter approved the creation of an international register of local fraternities; that national fraternities establish national registers of Secular Franciscans; the establishment of a group of experts; collaboration with the Franciscan Family and the development of a financial strategy.

However, the most emotional moments of the day were when presentations were made on causes of beatification and canonization of two Secular Franciscans who gave their lives as martyrs for their faith: Lucien Botovasoa, a teacher from Madagascar, and Franz Jägerstätter , an Austrian farmer.

Immediately following, a report was given on the beginning process of the causes for the beatification of Augusto Natali (Italy), one of the precursors of the international fraternity, and for General Ministers Manuela Mattioli (Venezuela) and Emanuela de Nunzio ( Italy), whose death was six years ago today.  

Rome, November 10, 2017

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Press Release

The General Chapter of the OFS today addressed one of the most delicate aspects, the economic support of the International Fraternity, which relies on the irregular contributions of brothers and sisters throughout the world through the National Fraternities.

The Vice General Minister of the OFS, Chelito Núñez, appealed to the sense of co-responsibility that is referred to in Article 30 of the General Constitutions. She used the image of the 'castellers' (human towers) of Catalonia as a symbol for the common effort necessary to achieve the result, in this case the good functioning of the International Fraternity.

Values ​​such as formation, shared effort, teamwork, dynamism, balance, courage, solidarity, tenacity, common sense, integration or diversity, that are found in the 'castellers', serve to define the fraternity we want -- local and global at the same time.

The day also provided presentations on concrete life experiences of Secular Franciscans, such as Eugenia and Elisabetta, who are responsible for the pastoral care of an urban area of ​​Milan (Italy); Franco's, who participates in both public and political life in Latina (Italy); Lorena, whose fraternity in Cadiz (Spain) started a formation project based on caring for the environment, or Ann, who, as a Secular Franciscan, is the spiritual assistant of a fraternity.

The Chapter heard the perspective of Fr. Marco Tasca, General Minister OFMConv., who presided over the Eucharist, and dedicated (the mass) to the Basilica of the (St. John) Lateran. In his homily, he questioned "our way of relating to God," sometimes seeming more similar to how it was before Jesus.

In addition, the group work continued on the different aspects of the 'Instrumentum Laboris', with the aim of arriving at conclusions that will provide the substance for the definitive document that will establish guidelines for the future management of the Order.

Rome, November 7, 2017

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Press release

The OFS General Chapter learned at first hand about the progress of two of the Order’s particularly attractive projects, Africa and Holy Land – Arabia, both of which asked for greater access to formation materials and support fior the growing number of Franciscan vocations among groups of young people.

After being renewed three years ago, Project Africa is now in its second stage, and continues its work of facilitating the growth of local fraternities now surging accross the continent, despite the difficult communcations and huge distances between them.

The aim is to continue with the workshops which untuil now have made it possible to reach  brothers and sisters in different countries, living in both French and English-speaking fraternities.

The project leaders are working on the celebration of the first Panafrican Congress of the OFS, due to be held in 2018.

Regarding the Holy Land – Arabia, this project was begun in the present sexennium. Its aim is to achideve united action in an area that shares a number of characteristics:  cultural and linguisticaffinity and a minority Christian presence, sometimes with limited freedom to express religious  faith.

Some of the regions have the additional difficulty of political conflict affecting their daily lives,  as in Israel and Palestine in the Holy Land, or even a state of war, as in Syria,  which has meant the disappearance of fraternities in Aleppo and Damascus.

Both projects also declared their intention to focus on the transmission of our charism to young people through Franciscan Youth, whose representative also spoke at the Chapter today. Andrea Odak, International Coordinator of Jufra, highglighted the need to give Jufra its proper place within OFS.  The means to do this already exist, and they need to be used, such as simultaneous membership of a fraternity  (of Jufra and OFS)  and the presence of a fraternal animator. 

Rome, November 7, 2017

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Press release

Michel Versteegh, a Secular Franciscan from the Netherlands, invited the capitulars today to reflect on the daily life of the Secular Franciscan.

While a cardio-vascular surgeon by profession, he finds time to serve the OFS at its different levels.  At the beginning of his speech, Michel offered a life testimony based on the fact that others (patients, colleagues, family, siblings) are truly people.

But Michel didn’t stop there.  He went further, offering ten keys that can and should help Secular Franciscans face personal and fraternity challenges in daily living, and even the much-desired global management of the Order.

The first of these keys is formation, starting at the moment when we first welcome a brother or a sister. This gives rise to other key elements such as valuing testimonies, seeking and accepting one's talents, perseverance, commitment, prayer, giving value to others, always remembering our roots, being reborn every day and bringing God to everything that happens in life.

In short, it was a presentation that delved into the theme of the Chapter - "As you have sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world" (Jn 17.18) - that has been very well received by the capitulars.

Subsequent group work and dialogue with the speaker, reinforced the importance of the fraternal welcome and the encounter with the brother/sister. Together with formation, these can help the brothers and sisters identify their own talents and later put them at the service of the fraternity as a part of the team.

The international councilors also placed their focus on the importance of the family as the nucleus of the Secular Franciscan life and of the daily conversion of the person.


Rome, November 6, 2017

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«We were gentle among you, as a nursing mother cares for her children» (1 Thess 2, 7).

Dear Brothers and Sisters of the Secular Franciscan Order, these words of Saint Paul, heard in the second reading, outline one of the most picturesque images to express the Gospel proclamation with that very solicitude typical of a mother who cares not only of the material good but also of the spiritual one of her children. God's Word, in fact, leads people to Christ and is the most necessary for growth in faith.

You too, according to your lay vocation within the Church, are committed to announcing and witnessing the Gospel, dedicating you to the apostolate in the form of fraternity inspired by the charism of Saint Francis. Therefore, the description of the Christian mission that the Apostle presents through the maternal image is also addressed to you. 

There is a difference between this maternal image of the apostolate and that which emerges in the other two readings, marked by sharp and severe warnings. They are addressed to the priests of the Old Covenant, to the scribes, to the pharisees, but indicate the risks that are always lurking even in the lay apostolate.

Press Briefing

73 chapter members began work today at the 15th General Chapter of the OFS. The Chapter opened yesterday with Mass presided over by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

The Chapter comes half-way through the present sexennial (2014 – 2020), an opportunity for the international OFS fraternity to review the situation of the Order at its different levels, while assessing progress in the implementation of current priorities and objectives.

In his homily, Cardinal Parolin exhorted Secular Franciscans to be “more closely united to Christ”, since this was “the essential foundation of any apostolic community and vision, as well as the guarantee that pastoral planning will be effective”.

The opening celebrations continued today with Mass presided over by Fr. Michael Perry, the OFM Minister General, who spoke of the need for “leadership based on identity, on the experience of Jesus”, but which at the same time must be “dynamic, relational and create partnerships”.

The work of reviewing the state of the Order began with presentation of various Reports. Tibor Kauser, Minister General of the OFS, recognized that the number of Secular Franciscans is declining, and warned that “we cannot deny the problem of lack of interest and failure to promote the OFS and Jufra”, although “we also see many encouraging signs in many national fraternities”.

In his turn, Fr. Amando Trujillo, President of the Conference of General Spiritual Assistants (CAS), highlighted “the incorporation of the Assistants in the work of the Presidency”, and pointed to a number of challenges needing attention, such as “the lack of knowledge of the identity and mission of the OFS among many Franciscan friars”.

The 15th Chapter is being held at a specially emotional time, being the 25th anniversary of the death of Manuela Mattioli, the first Minister General of the OFS. 

Rome, November 5, 2017

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