Friars Share Vision Ideas at Fraternal Gatherings

Jocelyn Thomas In the Headlines

NEW YORK — The friars of Holy Name Province met at five fraternal gatherings over the last few weeks to discuss the future of their community. The last two meetings in the seven-gathering series are being held tomorrow and Nov. 14 in St. Petersburg, Fla. 

The friars discussed the Province’s recently-approved vision statement, as well as findings from a recent friar preference survey.

“The gatherings are the first part of the bridge that creates the link between the vision statement and the strategic plan,” said Francis Gunn, OFM, chair of the Province’s Vision and Planning Committee (V&P).
Vision Statement 
The Province’s vision statement, shown below, arose from consensus reached at the Province’s Chapter of Mats in June and approved by the Provincial Council in August. It will be officially ratified at the 2008 chapter in June, said Francis.

In the next five years, we, the Franciscan friars of Holy Name Province, will challenge ourselves in the areas of:
•    Fraternity: Strengthen fraternity as the core of our charism by striving to be “brothers-in-relationship,” deepening spiritual lives, and inviting lay people and the wider Franciscan family to experience our fraternal life,
•    Collaboration
: Expand our relationships with our lay partners, promote vocations to our way of life, and seek collaboration with other Franciscan entities,
•   Mission: Focus on peacemaking, evangelization of young adults, and serving the marginalized and powerless, while maintaining our diversity of ministries.

The Manhattan gathering, held at the new provincialiate/friary on West 31st Street, attracted the largest turnout. Nearly 75 friars attended this meeting on Oct. 30, according to Provincial Secretary Michael Harlan, OFM, who organized the meeting. 

These gatherings, sometimes referred to as regional days, were set up by the Provincial Council and the Province’s V&P Committee to provide an opportunity for friars to hear the opinions of their brothers about how they want to live and minister.

Survey Discussion
At each gathering, a facilitator presented results of the survey that more than 70 percent of Holy Name friars completed earlier this fall. This is “a fantastic response,” according to Dominic Perri, a strategic planning consultant who has been working with the V&P Committee for several years.

The statistics show information about:
► Age distribution of the friars 
► Current ministry status
► Age and house sizes
► Ecclesial status (percentage of ordained vs. lay friars)
► Language proficiency of friars
► Factors that are most important to friars when considering a ministry
► Factors most important to friars when considering a friar community
► Factors important when considering a geographic location
► Opinions about criteria used when the Province makes decisions about personnel assignments
► How long friars want to remain in their current ministries
► Number of friars who prefer to be assigned to a ministry that primarily serves economically poor and/or marginalized people
Friars met in groups of six to eight people to discuss the findings. They were encouraged to periodically change groups to hear varied opinions and to discuss a variety of topics.

In their breakout groups, where discussions were upbeat and optimistic, the friars reviewed information about seven topics. They included finances and fraternity, as well as other topics that further analysis.

“The format provided a setting for friars to hear various perspectives about statistics compiled by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), the Washington, D.C.-based organization that recorded and interpreted the data. The survey was created by a subcommittee of the V&P Committee.

FratGath800_0011“Through this format, we are inviting friars to be the co-interpreters of the data,” said the consultant Perri, shown in photo at screen, who facilitated three of the gatherings. The others were led by Francis Gunn,  pastor of Holy Name Church, Manhattan, and Janet Rizzuto, a member of the V&P Committee.

Each gathering included opening and midday prayers, hymns, and lunch. Many friars stayed at the meeting sites after the event to socialize and share a meal with their brothers.

According to the presentation made to the Fraternal Gathering attendees, the vision statement identifies areas of focus. The next question is to determine the actions to  “take us” to these goals. The strategic plan is being developed between now and June 2008.

Both the vision statement and the strategic plan of Holy Name Province will be ratified at the June canonical chapter at St. Bonaventure University in Western New York. 

The vision statement will be included in Province literature in the coming months. This week, the document is being uploaded to the “Friars Only” section of the Province’s Web site. Later this year, it will appear on the home page of