SFOKE991 by HC111111073648


1999 - 1, English Edition                                                             Year VI
No. 21

IN THIS ISSUE: "Dynamic Nature of Spiritual Assistance" (Nils Thompson OFM). "Conclusions of
the Meeting of Spiritual Assistant sof the SFO in Spain" (Antonio Raindo Gomez, SFO National
Minister, Spain). "The SFO in Ireland Celebrates Francsican Family." "Annual Planning Meeting of
the Conference of General Assistants" (Nils Thompson OFM).

                        Nils Thompson, O.F.M., General Spiritual Assistant

INTRODUCTION: The Role of Spiritual
Assistant is not a static one, but a                envisioned the Third Order of St.
dynamic one. It can and does change                 Francis as a Religious Order, not a lay
with the times. Under the Leonine                   Order, the Tertiares were subjected to
Rule the Spiritual "Director" was                   the governance of the First Order.
basically "in charge" of the Tertiaries,            Later this governance was extended to
as their "Religious Superior" or                    the Third Order Regular Friars as well.
representative of "Father Commissary"               The Spiritual Director, as a Franciscan
who was delegated by the Friar                      Religious Priest, was expected to have
Provincial to serve the Third Order of              all the answers needed for clear
St. Francis. Under the new Pauline                  direction for the spiritual life of these
Rule the role of Spiritual "Assistant"              quasi-Religious, the Tertiaries of St.
has been that of an animator (one who               Francis.       The dangers of this
gives life), who helps develop the                  approach were obvious: For example,
autonomy of the SFO while preserving                domination by Friars, instead of
vital reciprocity. According to the Rule            assistance by them, was normal. This
Of Paul VI, the Seculars are to "ask for            was extended even to giving control of
suitable and well prepared religious for            the funds of the T.O.S.F. to the
spiritual assistance." (Rule, 26). A                Friar-priest Director.
change of style in spiritual assistance
is     developing    into   a     clearer           The role of Spiritual Director became
understanding of Spiritual Assistance               liturgical, thus usurping the role of the
in the future.                                      parish priests, although the friar priest
                                                    often had both roles together. In most
ROLE         OF     THE     "SPIRITUAL              of world there is a growing shortage of
DIRECTOR" IN THE PAST:             Until            priests. There simply can not be a
1978 a "Spiritual Director" served as               special Mass for the S.F.O. on a
local Religious Superior of the                     regular basis. This is the reality today.
Tertiares who were considered to be                 And, today there are many Franciscan
"little Religious" or those lay men and             Religious, including Lay Brothers and
women who could not for various                     Sisters, who are doing the task of
reasons join a Religious Order.                     Assistance, still legally restricted to
Because the Rule of Pope Leo XIII

ordained men.            (SFO General           We are doing a good job in leading
Constitutions, Art.91)                          them to see the need for their
TRANSITION TO THE PAULINE                       autonomy, helping them to mature as a
RULE: We have been doing a good                 lay Order in the church. This does not
job! It worked. Most of us have                 mean that we are cutting them off from
adjusted to the Rule approved by Pope           us, but that we recognize that they are
Paul VI in 1978. We now recognize               mature adults and we are not their
that members of the Secular                     parents in any sense of that word.
Franciscan Order have a lay vocation,           Autonomy does not mean total
not a calling to a Religious Order.             independence but recognition of
"The rule and life of the Secular               maturity and responsibility for one's
Franciscans is this: to observe the             own life. We are growing in our role of
gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by              preserving and developing vital
following the example fo Saint Francis          reciprocity (giving life to one another).
of Assisi…" (Rule, 4) They share with           There has to be a balance of autonomy
us Franciscan Religious our baptismal           and vital reciprocity.         Autonomy
life in Christ. They are lay Christians         assures the independence of the
who form the great majority of the              S.F.O. from the Friars, vital reciprocity
Church--baptized       laity, in    the         assures that we Vowed Franciscans
Franciscan Family. They are not a               will remain in an intimate relationship
Religious Order. Because they are a             with the Secular Franciscan Order.
Lay Order, the Secular Franciscans
are responsible for their own spiritual         TOWARDS THE FUTURE:                   We
life; we only assist them.                      recognize signs of changing styles of
                                                Spiritual Assistance to the Secular
We know that we do the Secular                  Franciscans. Our role is to Assist, not
Franciscans a great disservice when             direct the lives of our Secular
we promote the use of "habits" or               Franciscan brothers and sisters. We
terms pertinent to Religious Life, or           remain with the S.F.O. as their basic
direct them only to a devotional life, of       connection with the larger Franciscan
saying favorite prayers and ignoring            Family and the whole church. Unity
the world around them.. Their prayer            with the local church, through the local
must flow into apostolic action, "going         Bishop, is our responsibility through
from gospel to life and life to the             word and example, as Franciscan
gospel." (Rule, 4)                              Religious. This does not mean that
                                                the Secular Franciscans are expected
They are not subject to the First Order         to stop thinking when they approach
or to the T.O.R. in any way.        Our         their parish doors, no more than we
responsibility to them is not of                Franciscan Religious stop thinking
governance but of accompaniment, of             when we make our Vows.
companions on the journey.          We          Ours is not a liturgical role, but that of
serve, in the words of their Rule (26)          co-pray-er. The Spiritual Assistant, as
"As a concrete sign of communion and            a full member of a local Fraternity
coresponsibility" by our "support in            Council, helps develop other forms of
the life of the fraternity"     through         Conferences.
regular local, regional, national and
general    assistance    and     regular        The Spiritual Assistant is not the only
pastoral visits as their Brothers and           one who speaks at gatherings of the
Sisters who walk with them in our               S.F.O., and at times he or she may not
common Franciscan journey.                      even give a talk at a Fraternity
                                                meeting. After all, the Holy Spirit works

in the whole Church, not only in Priests         The Council (which always includes
or Religious.                                    the Spiritual Assistant) has to give
The Spiritual Assistant has the task of          good example to the Fraternity of
creative leadership in helping develop           their dedication the the Lord Jesus
the S.F.O. ritual for local (and regional        within our Church and the Franciscan
and national) fraternities. The basic            Family.     The Council led by the
Ritual of the Seculars can be                    Minister is to concern themselves with
expanded by them to fit local or                 the initial and ongoing formation of
regional or national needs. A Spiritual          each member. The Council members
Assistant can be of great help to the            (including the Minister and the Spiritual
Seculars by helping them develop their           Assistant) are to give good example of
Ritual--remembering, always that he or           an apostolic spirit, especially in caring
she is not the one "in charge" of the            for the poor, bringing justice and peace
services; this is the responsibility of          to our world, supporting family life (in
the Fraternity Council, not the                  its various forms), showing reverence
Assistant alone.                                 for work as a gift of God, and praying
                                                 with and showing respect to all
A growing shortage of priests is the             creation (see Rule, 13-19). This is
reality in most of the world. It is unfair       "animation" or giving "soul" to our life
of Local Fraternities to impose their            as Franciscan Christians.
perceived "need" for Mass on an
already over-burdened priest. How                Ordination, we believe, is not to be
often have parish priests come back              required for Spiritual Assistance (which
from celebrating a number of Masses              is not a lliturgical function). We have
to face a group of Secular Franciscans,          to be realistic about the shortage of
most of whom have already been to                priests in the world today. We do a
their parish Masses, demanding a                 disservice to our people if we stick our
special Mass for their Freaternity?              heads in the sand. The concept of
This is unjust to the priest and                 equality of the various forms of the
liturgically incorrect--our people have          Franciscan Vocation frees all of
the responsibility to take part in Mass          us--ordained friars, Lay Brothers,
at their own parish. And, Mass should            Franciscan          Sisters,     Secular
not be celebrated without a real need.           Franciscans--to follow Jesus together.
While it is nice to have Mass                    The life of Vowed Religious, who
occasionally in S.F.O. Fraternities, we          prayerfully live celibacy in community,
must never separate the Secular                  share obedience to God in specific
Franciscans in any way from the life of          apostolates, and have shared finances,
their proper parishes.                           is done differently. Of course, I want
                                                 to remember that Secular Franciscans
For these reasons the Conference of              live out the same values in their
General Spiritual Assistants, along with         secular life in their own way, and show
the International Presidency,        are         me great courage in following Jesus.
proposing changes in the S.F.O.
General      Constitutions     regarding         We also want to remove the vote from
Spiritual Assistance.                            the Spiritual Assistants at all levels.
                                                 That is, we wish to expand the
We realize that "animation" of the               provision in the S.F.O. General
Fraternity is basically the responsibility       Constitutions, Art.89, No.5, which
of an entire Fraternity led by Council           prescribes voting by the Spiritual
and Minister, not just the responsibility        Assistant in financial questions. Our
of the Spiritual Assistant or Animator.          proposal simply would state that the

Spiritual Assistant does not vote. This        usually willing to follow the direction of
would enable the Assistant to be               the Spirit within our Church, but
Brother or Sister to the SFO by freeing        sometimes this conflicts with our own
him or her from the vote, and thus free        preferences and training. Most of us
from the political process which is            have been trained in a specific
natural to any human group. This does          understanding of priesthood. There is
not denigrate the role of Spiritual            an emphasis today on "servant
Assistant, but makes it clearer, I             leadership" as Franciscan men. In
believe. Secular Franciscans do not            other words, the "brotherhood" of the
belong to the Religious Franciscan             Friars informs or gives shape to the
Orders and they do not vote in our             priesthood to which so many of us are
Chapters. An Assistant remains an              ordained, and leads us to service as
active member of the Frqaternity               brothers to the people of God. This, I
Council, and of the Formation process,         believe, has been our Franciscan style
but does not need the vote to perform          of priesthood and is recognizeable to
any of his or her responsibilities among       the peple. This attempt to adjust the
the Secular Franciscans.                       General Constitutions of the S.F.O. is
                                               not to be construed as an attack on the
Altius Moderamen (the specific                 ordained priesthood!        We have to
spiritual assistance we friars owe the         remember that all the baptized share in
Secular Franciscan Order) remains the          the priesthood of Jesus Christ, and all
responsibility of the First Order and          the baptized are called to exercise that
T.O.R. friars.          The competent          priesthood of service to others. Those
Religious Superiors can expand the             of us who are ordained to the
field of available Religious to be             ministerial priesthood are, I believe,
Spiritual Assistants, and this is already      called primarily to a sacramental
happening in a number of countries.            service of leading the community.
This will require Training of Friars           Franciscan Lay Brothers and Sisters
(ordained and not ordained) and                are quite often just as qualified as
T.O.R. Sisters and Brothers of the             Franciscans to help the S.F.O.
various         Franciscan       Religious     understand our common Vocation as
Communities who are willing to serve           Franciscans. In any case the Secular
as Spiritual Assistants. After all, the        Franciscans in my experience show
Secular        Franciscans      ask     for    extraordinary respect for the ordained
"competent         and      well-prepared"     priesthood.
assistants.            Training is the
responsibility of the First Order and       LED BY THE SPIRIT: TRUE
T.O.R. Friars, I believe, with the          MINISTER GENERAL OF THE
cooperation of the T.O.R. Religious         ORDER.
communities.        A Spiritual Assistant   This is how we got where we are
has to be grounded in Franciscan            today, in obedience to our Church and
spirituality, and must be Catholic as St.   our Franciscan vocation. It has taken
Francis insisted all his brothers and       a lot of change for those of us who
sisters must be--"and let them be           were trained before Vatican II. And
Catholic." In some cases it will be         we know that change is a sign of life.
necessary to pray and work for a            I want to continue following the Spirit
change of the attitudes of some of the      who is leading the entire Franciscan
Friars regarding Lay Brothers and           Family in this new step towards true
women Religious Franciscans. We             communion and coresponsibility with
are good men, loyal to the Church, and      the Secular Franciscans

                                Madrid, October 27-28, 1998

Sixty-one Spiritual Assistants (23 OFM, 19 CAP, 9 CONV, 9 TOR, 1 Diocesan priest (SFO) and six
Secular Franciscans representing the National Council participated, and reflected on themes
presented by P. Zudaire: "Assistance to the S.F.O. Today" and "Spiritual Assistance of the S.F.O.
Facing 2000." What follows are conclusions reached by small group discussion on these themes..
Fraternal greetings from Antonio Raìndo Gòmea, Ministro Nacional O.F.S.rada.ofs@arrakis.es

   Assistance to the S.F.O. Today                   Fraternity. The Assistant must be a
                                                    light to them, and must encourage
Negative Attitudes. Assistants at                   them but not be in charge. °The
times seem disgusted, in a rush,                    Assistants realize that there have been
considering the SFO a waste of his                  great     achievements       in     many
time, and does not seem to know the                 Fraternities due in the most part to the
Rule and General Constitutions of the               work of the Seculars.              °They
S.F.O. Lacking an understanding of                  recognize that the S.F.O. has served
the communion of S.F.O. with the First              as a unifying force among the diverse
Order and T.O.R. Friars, at times he                franciscan branches, and have brought
considers the S.F.O. just another                   about closer relationships among the
church     society.       °There     are            Assistants in Spain, and closer
Fraternities in which the Assistants are            relationships with the S.F.O. °The
"Directors." °They do not believe the               Assistants know that many Fraternities
Seculars have sufficient capabilities to            have       greatly    improved       their
be themselves. °There is a lack of                  methodology and formation in their
encouragement and interest towards                  gatherings. °The richness of spiritual
the S.F.O. and Franciscan Youth                     content and the form of life of the new
(JUFRA) on the part of the religious                Rule of the S.F.O. °They ask that the
community. They prefer to dedicate                  friars' Provincials become primary
themselves to other newer groups and                animators       of     their    religious
movements.       °There is a lack of                communities to assist the S.F.O., and
animation of the friars in the S.F.O.               that they would feel that the S.F.O. is
Franciscan Vocation.       They should              really their family. °Many important
understand that we are truly from the               steps have been made but the
same family.         °The friars lack               Assistants desire that the hop
formation in order to serve the S.F.O.              demonstrated in these days will be
as Assistants in the Fraternities.                  confirmed in their respect for and
                                                    dedication to the S.F:O.
Positive Attitudes. Assistants know
that they get a lot of encouragement                  SPIRITUAL ASSISTANCE IN 2000
from the Seculars. They have found                  Negative Attitudes to be Changed.
in them a family. The Seculars give                 °Lack of Formation from the local level
them much help and are faithful and                 of Fraternity to the Regional.
trusting, and they notice that the                  °Necessity of new temrinology. Certain
Seculars are strongly aware that they               terms of the S.F.O., e.g., Order,
have a Franciscan Vocation. °If the                 Minister, Novitiate, Profession, are
Assistant believes in the vocation of               actually not understood by the
the Secular Franciscan he will have                 Seculars.     °The     difficulty    of
interest and love and give life to the              relationships between older and

younger people. °There actually are no          their own plan of action. °We know
Formation Directors in every Fraternity.        that the hope and joy of knowing we
There is a need for biblical Formation          are called to renew the Church and
and on the writings of St. Francis.             today's world, as Francis did in his
°Worry about the future because the             age, communicating the joy of the
Seculars are getting older, and the             Beatitudes. We have to show the
need for promotion of vocations.                world the joy of our Christian faith and
°Need to call together the Religious to         our Franciscan charism, paying more
promote interest in the Secular                 attention to living it out than to the
Franciscans. This is true for both the          organization itself.     °To trust and
S.F.O. and JUFRA. °A need to deal               believe in the presence of the Holy
with the problem of Franciscan Youth            Spirit who gives us strength and moves
not going into the S.F.O.           It is       us to action. °To be leaven which
necessary to present the S.F.O. more            causes the dough to rise. To be in
as a way of life than a series of               personal relationships so we can offer
obligations to fulfill.   The Seculars          our charism with discretion but firmlyl.
must not be obstacles to the growth of          °To know how to discover positive
their Order. They must be tolerant,             values in our relationship with the
and open to new horizons. °We find              brothers and sisters, whatever age
few positive experiences of promotion           they are, and whatever group they are
of vocations to the S.F:O. by the               from.     °To collaborate with groups
Religious. In some cases, it appears            which work for the care of Nature.
that they are afraid to reveal the              °We must denounce injustice: labor
existence of an S.F.O. Fraternity.              camps, immigrants, drug addicts, etc.,
°The lack of vocations seems also due           stand up to selfish capitalism, and
to the fact that today a vocation is            defend ourselves against uncontrolled
valued, and there are no massive                consumerism, so we can be more free
recruitments. °There is not sufficient          and available to others. We need to
information given to groups finishing           promote a more humanizing dimension
their Confirmation training to JUFRA as         to life. °There are social action groups
a possibility for continuing their              in the Fraternities working in different
religious    formation.        °Religious       areas: with broken families, the sick,
communities should be motivated to              elderly, in Caritas, Manoa Unidas, etc.
open their houses and invite the                °There      are     great    ecumenical
Secular Franciscans to celebrate                achievements, too. There are some
Morning and Evening Prayer with                 experiences in this area. Also in the
them.                                           ecumenical prayer union in the "Spirit
Positive      Attitudes      we     have        of Assisi."
Discovered. °An interest in one's own
personal internal renewal. To know              In summary. We must, we will and
our charism. A desire to communicate            desire to be instruments in the hands
and use the spiritual richness we have.         of God.       The trust and joy of
°We recognize that a Fraternity offers          discovering God at work in us gives us
us the possibility of forming ourselves,        an optimism which creates, impels,
of discerning, of prayer, of growth and         and will be a great incentive towards
maturing, and an encounter with the             the desired renewal of our Fraternities,
essential: that it is a way of following        with     Assistants    and      Secular
Christ. °It is necessary that every             Franciscans joined in collaboration.
Fraternity a the various levels have

               S.F.O. in Ireland Celebrates Franciscan Family
August, 1998. The SFO in Ireland held its General Assembly at Multyfarnum. The
occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Pauline Rule was recognized by a symposium
on the S.F.O. in Africa. They also recognized the great variety of Franciscans in
Ireland. To quote the report of Sheila Hughes, S.F.O: "Another special innovation
was to invite members of the Franciscan Leadership Conference as our special
guests. We asked them to come to our Sunday Eucharist, to share lunch with us
and to come and listen to our key-note speaker [a Secular Franciscan]. Many of them
came, thanks be to God, and it was very gratifying to see friars--OFM and
Capuchin--brothers and sisters from many of the Third Order Regular congregations
and Poor Clares, all sharing with us in our celebration. It turned out to be a great
family gathering and it was also a wonderful example to our grass roots membership
as we try to raise their awareness, that they too are full members of the wonderful
family of Francis and Clare." [St.Anthony Brief, No.6,Oct/Nov '98 Irish OFM

            Annual Planning Meeting of the General Assistants
The Conference of General Assistants              our readers can help with this problem,
met in their annual planning meeting,             please let us know.
November 30 to December 2, 1998.
We met at the Conventual Brothers                 We finalized the Guidelines for
Friary in Civitella in Teramo, Abruzzo.           Formation of Franciscan Religious to
The hospitality of our Brothers there             Understanding and Assisting the
was generous and very touching.                   Secular Franciscans. This will soon
They received us with open hearts,                be on the internet on the CIOFS
and we are very grateful to them. Our             pages.
decision was to share their prayer time
in fraternity and Mass with them and              We discussed the planned Courses for
laity of the Shrine fo the Madonna of             Assistants of Italy, and will inform you
the Lights. That was very satisfying.             very soon of the dates and times and
                                                  costs. We discussed the possibility of
Ben Brevoort, O.F.M.Cap., Valentìn                seminars for Assistants in Latin
Redondo, O.F.M.Conv., and Nils                    America and Asia.
Thompson, O.F.M. were present.
Zvonimir Brusac, T.O.R., was unable               We reviewed the Denver meeting of
to attend because of illness. We had              National, Regional, and Provincial
a full agenda.                                    Assistants, with friars' Ministers
                                                  Provincial and friars' Formation
We discussed the KOINONIA and our                 Directors in September, and agreed
basic problem of the lack of a                    that this initiative of the USA National
translator (English-Italian) at all four of       Assistiants was of real benefit to the
the General Curias in Rome. If any of             S.F.O. in the USA and beyond.

We talked about other scheduled               with changes proposed for the internal
events.      E.g., Nils did pastoral          structure of the Order's general council
visitation to the U.S. in October, a          and other councils. No.3 will deal with
workshop for Assistants in Hungary in         Issues related to Franciscan Youth,
November, and worked in a formation           Visitations, and the relationship
workshop in Nairobi, Kenya, in                between Ministers and Councils. No.
December. Nils also spoke with friars         4, to be published after the October
in initial formation in Budapest and          General Chapter, will deal with
Nairobi, about the need for formation         decisions of that Chapter and how to
about the SFO; and gave a talk at a           implement those decisions.
special course for OFM Spanish and
Italian speaking Formators in Rome in         We talked about the perception that
September.                                    some have about Visitations and their
We will have a special week of study of
the proposed changes in the SFO               We dscussed the Secular Franciscan
General Constitutions before the              Order in Italy.
General Chapter in October, 1999 in
Madrid. We will at the same time plan         We discussed a topic brought up the
Liturgies and prayer times for the            the Presidency before, of some sort of
Chapter.                                      encounter of the S.F.O. with other
                                              Third Orders.
We planned themes for the KOINONIA
for 1999. The first three issues will         We were very grateful to our Brothers
deal with proposed changes in the             who hosted us, and grateful to God for
General Constitutions.      This one          such Brothers!
obviously deals with proposed changes
in Spiritual Assistance. No.2 will deal       Nils Thompson, O.F.M.


       Conference of General Spiritual Assistants to the S.F.O.

On Tuesday, January 12, the Conference of General Assistants had their regular
monthly meeting. At this meeting elections were due and these are the results of
that election: (international telephone code for Italy is +39, Rome code is 06)

Conference President, 1999-2002:: Zvonimir Brusac, T.O.R.
Via dei Fori Imperiali, 1 -- 00186 Roma, Italy -- +39-06-699-1540; FAX 06-678-4970

Conference Secretary, 1999-2002: Valentìn Redondo, O.F.M.Conv. agois@alt.it
Pzza.Santi Apostoli, 51--00187 Roma, Italy. TEL: 06-699-571; FAX: 06-699-57321.

Ben Brevoort, O.F.M.Cap. -- Via Piemonte, 70 -- 00187 Roma, Italy
benitius@iname.it TEL: 06-462-0121; FAX: 06-482-8267.

Nils Thompson, O.F.M. -- Via Santa Maria Mediatrice, 25 -- 00165 Roma, Italy
Nilst@ofm.org   TEL: 06-684-919; FAX: 06-638-0292.



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