The International Council for Formation and Studies (CIFS) held its second meeting of the sexennium (2015-2021) at the OFM General Curia, from March 11th to 16th. Fourteen Secretaries for Formation and Studies were present, with all the Conferences of Provincial Ministers of the Order being represented.
The agenda included periods of listening as well as discussion and planning sessions. The first part focused on listening to the members of the CIFS — each Secretary was asked to give a presentation on Formation in his Conference, with special emphasis on Ongoing Formation, the training of Guardians, and the Pastoral Care of Vocations.
The following days the group did some more listening, during meetings with the Minister General and Definitory, with the Secretariat for Missions and Evangelization, the Justice and Peace Office, and the Director of the “Collegium Sancti Bonaventurae – International Center for Franciscan Studies. and Research” based at St. Isidore’s College, Rome.
In addition to listening, the CIFS also devoted time to the discussion and planning of major Formation activities for the second part of the sexennium (2015-2021). The Council evaluated the six continental Congresses on Formation that have been taking place since 2017 and which will continue until 2019 (in accordance with decision 3 of the last General Chapter). These Congresses deal with the theme of accompaniment in the context of Ongoing Formation, with particular attention being given to the training of Guardians and the link between Ongoing Formation and Vocations Promotion.
Draft Statutes for the Secretariat for Formation and Studies were examined, corrected and approved. The previous Statutes dated back to 1985 and required revision.
A discussion of Decision 4 of the last General Chapter also took place and the planning of a Conference of Study Centers to be held in 2020 was begun. Decision 4 includes the wording: “to convoke a Congress for the OFM Study Centers on current themes for the life and mission of the Order in the Church, starting from a global cultural and theological perspective.”
Information on several ongoing initiatives was shared, with some reflections on them:
- the progress being made regarding the Franciscan University project;
- the Chapter of Mats for friars “Under 10” being held in Taizè in 2019;
- a course for Formators from the African Conference (“The Franciscan School of Formation for Formators in Africa”), to be held in Lusaka (Zambia) over three years, for two weeks each year.
The budget of the Secretariat of Formation and Studies was presented, and in a meeting with the General Treasurer the relationship between finances and Formation was explored.
Finally, an Executive Committee was elected, made up of three CIFS members to whom the General Secretariat for Formation and Studies can turn for advice on a regular basis.