Franciscans International Plans Nov. 19 Event

Jocelyn Thomas Franciscan World

Photo courtesy by Franciscans International

Photos of Joseph Rozansky and other FI activists that appear in FI’s flyer about the Nov. 19 Mass (Photo courtesy of Franciscans International)

NEW YORK — All are invited to a Mass and reception on Nov. 19 at Holy Name of Jesus Church, hosted by Franciscans International. Attendees will learn about the work of this non-governmental organization (NGO) that advocates at the United Nations, in the name of the Franciscan family, for the marginalized. They will also meet representatives of the nearly 30-year-old organization from around the world. The Mass is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at the church on West 96th Street and Amsterdam Avenue.

“We invite you to a simple reception after the Mass where you can hear more about Franciscans International, meet the executive director of the organization, the board members who come from the U.S., Italy, Germany, Malaysia and Kenya, and Sr. Odile Coirier, FMM, the FI representative in New York,” said Joseph Rozansky, OFM, president of the International Board of Directors of Franciscans International since April.

“You will also be able to spend some time with your Franciscan sisters and brothers of the region,” said Joseph, who has collaborated with FI since its beginnings in the 1980s. “The participation of members of the Franciscan family is important to us.”

“We would like the Franciscan family of New York-New Jersey-Connecticut area to come to the parish for its vigil liturgy at 5:30 p.m.,” said Joseph and Fr. Markus Heinze, OFM, FI’s executive director, in a letter.

“We would like to meet with the Franciscan family of the tri-state area to update them on the situation and the work of FI,” said Joseph.

Those planning to attend the Nov. 19 mass and reception are asked to contact Sr. Odile at or 917.270.8922.

An informational flyer about the event – which can be shared with friars and others – describes FI’s mission to promote a “global community based on Franciscan values in which the dignity of every person is respected, resources are shared equitably, the environment is sustained; and nations and peoples live in peace.”

Franciscans International in New York
While in New York, the board will be holding its second meeting of 2016. Among other parallel activities, members will participate in a session at the United Nations run by the UN’s Department of Public Information. It will deal with the role of NGOs at the United Nations.

The Nov. 19 Mass will “put faces to names,” Joseph said. “It will help people understand what we are doing.”

“For about two years now, we have been evaluating goals and plans,” he said. “At the moment, we are looking to revitalize the New York office of FI. We have been talking to those who have been associated with this office over the years, and we are carrying out a legal audit of our situation. We are specially interested in reviving the possibilities offered to us due to our ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council) status. Few NGOs have this privilege, and it provides us with a wonderful opportunity to advocate for those with whom we partner.”

“FI has come a long way,” added Joseph, describing the organization that is undergoing a transition to strengthen its structure. “We have reorganized our office in Geneva, and now want to do the same in New York. In Geneva, we are very involved with issues related to human rights, since that is where the UN addresses these questions. In New York, we will look for ways to focus on issues that the UN deals with here, including collaboration with the Security Council, women’s issues, indigenous issues, and the issues associated with the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals).” Joe, who served as the director of the OFM Office for Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation for 10 years, added: “We want to continue our commitment to work with the Franciscan JPIC people, who are the grassroots network of FI.”

As described on its website, the advocacy work of FI — the Franciscan voice at the UN that protects the vulnerable, the forgotten, and the wounded earth — comprises three main objectives:

  • Influencing policy-makers to bring about concrete change
  • Denouncing human rights abuses and raising awareness about them
  • Mobilizing partners to participate in decisions that affect them

The organization divides its work between Thematic Priorities and Regional Programmes.

Recently, Franciscans International members have been involved with projects advocating for human rights, for refugees, and indigenous peoples. The September 2016 issue of its e-newsletter includes articles about workshops held this summer in support of marginalized in claiming their rights, a debate on the war on drugs and its impact on human rights, the World Social Forum held in August in Montreal, and a handbook titled “Making Human Rights Work for People Living in Extreme Poverty.”

More About the Organization
Franciscans International was formed in 1989, when it was officially recognized as a non-governmental organization. Since its establishment, various Franciscans from the United States have been involved in FI’s work. The president of the first International Board of Directors, or IBD, according to FI’s timeline was Fr. David Couturier, OFM, Cap., who is now dean of the School of Franciscan Studies at St. Bonaventure University in Western New York.

Fr. Michael Perry, OFM, of Sacred Heart Province, currently General Minister of the Order of Friars Minor, served as a lobbyist for FI for three years. Fr. John Doctor, OFM, of Sacred Heart Province, was elected president of the IBD in 2009.

In 2011, Daniel Grigassy, OFM, participated in a film produced by FI called “Hear it First Hand: Trafficking, Stories Policy and Best Practices.”

Past issues of the FI newsletter along with links to the organization’s Facebook and Twitter pages can be found on the Franciscans International website.

— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.

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