Reorganizing of Franciscans International

Wendy Healy Franciscan World

GENEVA — Franciscans International, the Franciscan voice at the United Nations, announced last month that it is restructuring and will spend the next year in transition.

News of the restructuring, including a staff reduction and resignation of Sr. Denise Boyle, FMDM, as executive director, was announced in the Dec. 21 issue of Franciscan Voice, FI’s newsletter, and in a letter to Franciscans from Doug Clorey, OFS, president of the FI Board of Directors and a Secular Franciscan.

Clorey wrote in his letter:

“On Oct. 2, 2012, the Conference of the Franciscan Family met in Assisi with the Franciscans International Board of Directors to discuss the current challenges facing FI. During this meeting, the CFF and the IBD unanimously agreed to re-think the FI organization so that it would be better positioned to move forward into the future in a financially sustainable manner. They also agreed to re-dimension the organization to enable it to operate more effectively in providing a bridge between Franciscans working at the grassroots and the United Nations. The implementation of this direction will be overseen by a Re-dimensioning Committee comprised of representatives from both the CFF and the IBD.”

Re-dimensioning includes a staff reduction by Jan. 31 that will leave only four remaining employees — one advocacy officer in New York, two officers in Geneva, and one in Bangkok. Sr. Denise’s resignation is effective Jan. 31, and Fr. Markus Heinze, OFM, will manage the transition.

Leadership Change
Fr. Markus began transitional work in mid-December and additional resources will join the team as funding becomes available, according to the newsletter. Clorey also thanked staff in his letter: “We are indeed grateful to all managers and staff for their outstanding support of the Franciscan family’s ministry at the United Nations, and are especially grateful to Sr. Denise for her leadership of the organization and exceptional commitment to the mission and vision of FI.”

In a newsletter message titled “Endings into New Beginnings,” Sr. Denise expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to have served FI, saying, “As I hand on the baton of leadership to Br. Markus Heinze OFM, I do so with heartfelt gratitude for everyone who shared this phase of the FI journey with me.”

Sr. Denise began as executive director of FI in 2008. The Irish Franciscan religious sister had a 30-year career in education, social justice, and development, spending many years in advocacy work abroad.

In Zimbabwe, she spent eight years as the national coordinator of the Women and Children’s Program of the Catholic Commission of Justice and Peace. She organized an emergency feeding program that brought relief to 11,000 children after a drought. In Australia, where she spent 15 years as an educator, she was passionate about social justice.

As the Overseas Project officer at the Volunteer Missionary Movement, Sr. Denise developed and implemented the training program for 53 volunteers in Africa and Guatemala.

Business & Human Rights Forum
The first Forum on Business and Human Rights was held in Geneva last month, bringing together more than 1,000 participants representing states, business enterprises and civil society to discuss implementation of the Guiding Principles that were adopted 18 months ago. The Guiding Principles are based on three pillars: the duty of states to protect human rights; the duty of businesses and corporations to respect human rights; and the right of persons and peoples to effective remedies for violations of their human rights, according to the e-newsletter.

Booklet Introduces Organization
FI also announced release of Franciscans International: Seeking Justice through the United Nations, a collection of case studies reflecting the variety of human rights challenges addressed by FI through the United Nations. This booklet is an introduction to the work of FI, with first-hand accounts of the experiences of Franciscan grassroots partners around the world and their collaboration in bringing crucial human rights issues to the attention of international leaders.

This resource offers an introduction to FI work, the work of Franciscans defending human rights around the world, and the broader challenges in ensuring human development and social justice, according to the e-newsletter.

— Wendy Healy, a Connecticut-based writer, is a frequent contributor to HNP Today.