SECULAR FRANCISCAN ORDER
Five Franciscan Martyrs Region
Florida, South Georgia, Lower Alabama
Spiritual Assistance Training Program Syllabus for Five Franciscan Martyrs Region
An extensive review of existing Spiritual Assistance Training Programs was conducted by the Five Franciscan Martyrs Regional Spiritual Assistant (i.e., me). Based on that review, and given the constraints of our specific region, I have developed the following curriculum for the training of future Spiritual Assistants in our region. It is generally in concert with existing training programs. The major difference between our program and those of other programs is the requirement that our program be conducted online for the most part. The focus is on what it means to be a Spiritual Assistant; there will not be much in the way of general Franciscan formation. It is assumed you already have that background or you wouldn’t be applying for this ministry. We will have an annual meeting in which all candidates share their knowledge and experiences while participating in the training program. While completion of the program does not guarantee certification or appointment, it will assure that the candidate is properly prepared for this ministry should approval and appointment be forthcoming by the provincial Spiritual Assistant.
All required text can be purchased via Smoky Valley Printing, see the Tau-USA publication. I believe the FUN Manual is now online, and I will provide a digital copy of the History of the SFO and its Rules. Therefore, you will be responsible for purchasing or otherwise securing copies of the Franciscan Family Connections, Essential Documents of the SFO, and the Handbook for Spiritual Assistance to the OFS. The approximate cost should be around $50 or less by my calculations.
My philosophy for developing this training program is to emphasize practicality, without sacrificing the needed knowledge to be an effective Spiritual Assistant. I know other programs go into Canon Law and other theological aspects, but we just don’t have the time. Frankly, I don’t think these areas are as relevant to the work we do as Spiritual Assistants. If needed, you can pick up this knowledge on your own time. I want to focus on specific areas that are more relevant to the Spiritual Assistant.
The following details the reading requirements and monthly assignments for the 18 month program. This is an intensive program; if you think you may not have the time or motivation to complete this program it is advised that you reconsider your application to become a Spiritual Assistant. My goal is to have 100% completion rate. I don’t believe the requirements for this program are unrealistic. To be sure, not everyone is destined to be a Spiritual Assistant. It takes initiative, motivation, and discernment before embarking on this journey. It is well worth your time and effort; we are on this journey together. I’m your guide, but I expect I will learn from you as well!
Schedule of Monthly Sessions (subject to change)
Month 1 (Sept. 2017): Orientation
a) A Brief History of the Secular Franciscan Order and Its Rules (Wicks). I will provide a .pdf file for this resource.
b) Section 1 – The Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order (Essential Documents of the Secular Franciscan Order)
Assignment: Write an essay (not to exceed 5 pages, double-spaced) in which you discuss how our “Rule” will inform your duties as a Spiritual Assistant (SA). That is, how will our Rule be manifested in all that you do as a SA?
Month 2 (Oct. 2017): What is a Spiritual Assistant?
a) Chapter 1 – The Role of a Spiritual Assistant (FF Connections)
b) Chapter 1 – (Handbook for Spiritual Assistance)
Assignment: In Month 1 (last month) you discussed how the “Rule” will inform your duties as a Spiritual Assistant. This month we get more specific. In your own words, what IS a Spiritual Assistant? In your response to this question address what YOU will do as a Spiritual Assistant in the fraternity to which you will be assigned. No generalities, please. Try and be specific. Concrete goals.
Month 3 (Nov. 2017): Franciscan Spirituality
a) Chapter 2 – Franciscan Theology/Spirituality (FF Connections)
b) Chapter 3 – The Trinity and Us (FF Connections)
c) Franciscan Theology, Tradition and Spirituality (FUN)
d) St. Francis and His Approach to Divinity (FUN)
Assignment:These two questions are associated mainly with Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 of FF Connections dealing with Franciscan Spirituality. Question #1—How do the ideas of Chapter 2 make a difference in your service to a local fraternity. Question #2—What role would you play as a SA in the process of forming people who come to the OFS?
Month 4 (Dec. 2017): Spiritual Assistants and Formation
a) Chapter 4 – Spiritual Assistants and Initial Formation (FF Connections)
b) Chapter 5 – Spiritual Assistants and Ongoing Formation (FF Connections)
c) Chapter 11 – Church, Eucharist, Ongoing Formation (FF Connections)
Assignment: Question #1—Are you prepared, as a spiritual assistant, to be regularly involved in initial formation? What would help or hinder your participation? Question #2—With reference to the SA Handbook, what role does the spiritual assistant play in the process of forming people who come to the SFO? Question #3—What contribution(s) are you called to make for ongoing formation as a spiritual assistant?
Month 5 (Jan. 2018): Franciscan Influences
a) Chapter 6 – Franciscan Writers ((FF Connections)
b) Chapter 7 – Vatican II’s Influence (FF Connections)
c) Our Identity as a Secular Franciscan (FUN)
Assignment: Question #1—What contribution have Franciscan theologians made to the Church? Which Franciscan writers are most refreshing for you and why? Question #2—Lumen Gentium and Gaudium et Spes offer direction for our ministry in the Church. What specific ideas in these documents are important for you? Question #3—How ready are you to make changes in your life when the Spirit calls you to change? In what specific areas of your life do you find it difficult to consider change/conversion? Why? How would you call people to conversion on a pastoral visitation?
Month 6 (Feb. 2018): OFS Structure
a) Chapter 8 – SFO Organizational Structure (FF Connections)
b) Chapter 9 – SFO Activity in the World/Leadership (FF Connections)
c) Charism and Mission of Secular Franciscans (FUN)
Month 7 (Mar. 2018): Franciscan Rituals
a) Chapter 10 – Franciscan Rituals and Devotions (FF Connections)
b) Chapter 14 – Conversion – the Call of the Spirit (FF Connections)
c) Penitence and Conversion (FUN)
Month 8 (Apr. 2018): Forms of Prayer
a) Chapter 18—Prayer Forms (FF Connections)
Month 9 (May 2018): Profession
a) Chapter 16—Theology of Profession (FF Connections)
b) Profession (FUN)
Month 10 (June 2018): TBD
I want at least one month “open” so we can determine if we as a group wish to cover an area not specified in the syllabus.
Month11 (July 2018): Important Documents of the OFS (Part 1 of 4)
a) Section 2 – General Constitutions of the SFO 2000 (Essential Documents)
Month12 (Aug. 2018):One day retreat at San Pedro Center, Winter Park, FL. Details TBD.
Month 13 (Sept. 2018): Important Documents of the OFS (Part 2 of
a) Section 3 – Statutes of the National Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order in the U.S. (Essential Documents)
Month 14 (Oct 2018): Important Documents of the OFS (Part 3 of 4)
a) Section 4 – Ritual of the SFO (Essential Documents)
Month 15 (Nov 2018): Important Documents of the OFS (Part 4 of 4)
a) Section 6 – Statutes for Spiritual and Pastoral Assistance to the SFO (Essential Documents)
Month 16 (Dec. 2018): Fraternity Issues
a) Chapter 2 (Handbook)
Month 17 (Jan. 2019): CNSA Issues
a) Chapter 3 (Handbook)
Month 18 (Feb. 2019): Conclusion and Next Steps
We made it! Congratulations!
Final Assignment: TBD
Each month there will be several questions or an activity in which the candidate will respond. Essays or activities will be based on the readings for that month and the experiences of the candidate. Essays or activities should be typed, and double spaced not to exceed 5 pages. If the candidate does not have a word processor let me know and exceptions can be made. Papers will be graded and returned to the candidate with comments/feedback. There is no specific format that needs to be used; however, all papers should be free of grammatical or spelling errors.
Specific questions or activities for each month will be provided to candidates at least one month in advance of the lesson. It is expected that candidates will submit their assignments no later than the end of the first week of the subsequent month. Thus, your assignment this month (Sept 2017) should be submitted to me no later than the first week of next month (Oct 2017). You can always submit earlier if you wish, but I don’t want you getting behind so we need to keep to the schedule.