Secular Franciscan Formation and Discernment. Decisions we need to make for our candidates and our Order. Bill Geary, SFO April 2009.
Bill Geary, SFO
“The Church recognizes Secular Franciscans as belonging to a real Order….Their profession to live the Gospel life is so extraordinary that, it too, is regarded as a sacred act that is no less important then the profession that friars and sisters make.”
Fr. Felice Cangelosi, OFM Cap. Speaking on the mystery of the SFO profession. Complete context of his presentation can be found on the NAFRA Web site.
If all we do is feed our candidates intellectually and fail to feed the heart and soul we are basically fooling ourselves.
The need is urgent to make our candidates AND our professed members understand fully what it means to be a member of the Franciscan Order, and to understand without any doubt what our profession means.
ANY FORMATION DIRECTOR OR TEAM CAN TELL YOU:
THIS IS NOT ALL THERE IS!!!
If the regular formation gathering is
4 hours long, and we meet once a
month, we spend only about
48 hours together for the whole year.
That actually doesn’t sound like much to support a lifetime commitment to a Franciscan Vocation.
To prepare people for an authentic Franciscan Vocation with a lifetime commitment in a worldwide religious order to carry on the ministry of Christ…
Doesn’t it seem realistic to extend the time we spend in formation gatherings or get together for formation more often?
Are they willing to be personally present, namely regular participation (not optional!) at the fraternity gatherings?
Are they willing to take a active role at fraternity gatherings?
Do they fully understand the meaning of service especially when it comes to holding office?
These considerations should be held in mind by those responsible for formation and by the Fraternity Councils when they appraise the suitability of the candidate for SFO profession
If so, you might just have a
Secular Franciscan Vocation
in your hands…
Great! Maybe everyone now agrees the candidate would be a good addition to the Order.
Notice that this is “to the Order”
not just “to the fraternity.”
This is very, very important:
Secular Franciscans are a worldwide religious order, not simply a local church club.
Q: We have experienced the joy of a new Secular Franciscan profession, so can we get back to normal business?
A: NO! Formation is a never ending process.
(That’s why we call it “ongoing formation.”) Ongoing formation needs to take center stage at every fraternity gathering. Just like daily conversion, it should never stop.
Q: Is doing regular ongoing formation a natural step for many fraternities?
A: Not yet, so it must be worked at continuously by formation directors, spiritual assistants, and every fraternity member.
Please remember these are just reminders of what to look for and some other thoughts to refresh your memory. The methods you use to put them into practice will require some creative ideas on your part.
You are a Secular Franciscan - one of 350,000 other Franciscans worldwide who belong to the Franciscan Order.