Spring and autumn have been busy times for the Secular Franciscan Order, both in the United States and around the world.
Last month, the National Fraternity held its annual chapter and Richard Trezza, OFM, the Province’s spiritual assistant for the SFO, was among the 80 some participants. The Oct. 24 to 29 gathering at Mission San Juan Bautista in California included all regional ministers as well as other National Commission members and the national executive council, Richard said.
“This is a big year for matters pertaining to justice, peace and integrity of creation,” said Richard. He added that discussions included formation, youth fraternities and fraternal life.
“The SFO is still committed to the Franciscan Action Network,” he said, “and is eager to be involved in JPIC issues.”
At the gathering, political activist Fr. Louis Vitale, OFM, the former provincial minister of St. Barbara Province, was given the Peace Award.
Earlier in October, the SFO held its General Chapter in San Paulo, Brazil. Its theme was “Evangelize to Evangelize.”
According to Richard, four major points emerged from discussions at the Oct. 22 to 29 gathering:
• The world is undergoing significant changes which create new situations and challenges: culture (secularization), society (the intermingling of peoples), mass media, economy, science and civic life.
• In the new evangelization, Secular Franciscan fraternities have to be transformed in their thinking, so they can continue to carry out the mission of proclamation within these new sectors.
• Current times call upon the Church to renew her manner and forms of evangelizing and to display a new readiness to render an account of faith and hope.
• The new evangelization requires living out this call for proclamation and witness, which promises to bear fruit.
New Formation Manual
In May, the “long-awaited new initial formation material was finally introduced in the United States,” Richard said.
“All the regional ministers were present for a workshop on how to introduce the manual to their regions and form their formators,” said Richard, a member of the National Formation Commission. “For a while now, the international presidency of CIOFS — the International Conference of the SFO — has made formation a priority. It had developed a syllabus to be adopted and adapted by the various nations.”
Richard was present at the 2008 General Chapter in Budapest, Hungary, when the syllabus was made public. From that time until now, the National Formation Commission has been adapting the information to the needs of U.S. Seculars.
“Our country is the first to have completed the task, and now workshops are being given all over the country,” he said. The manual is being called the “FUN” manual because of its title — “For Up Till Now.” Richard said he encourages all spiritual assistants and local fraternities to “get behind the effort to promulgate” the new formation manual.
“They are principal agents of formation,” he noted, “and will be instrumental in teaching some of the more theological concepts contained in the program.”
Holy Name Province assists approximately 2,900 Secular Franciscans in nine geographic regions, Richard said.
— Rebecca Doel is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.