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Dear Brothers, May the Lord give you Peace!

The manual presented here was prepared by the Commission for Solidarity of Personnel, which was established by the General Minister and Definitory after the General Chapter in 2006. It was approved by the General Definitory during its meeting in September 2009 ad experimentum until the next General Chapter. The manual is based on observations and experiences over the last number of years and is offered as a guideline to the friars of the Order. We underline that it is approved ad experimentum and so can be adapted and improved before being submitted for definitive approval at the next Chapter. While dissatisfaction has been expressed by some language-groups about the title “Solidarity of Personnel”, no suitable alternative has been suggested and we invite reflection and suggestions from interested groups on this issue. As our experience of Solidarity of Personnel grows with the years, so too do our reflections on its meaning and purpose within the context of our international fraternity. One of the things we wish to underline is that all initiatives in the area of Solidarity of Personnel should be submitted to the General Minister for guidance, approval and evaluation.

As emphasised in the Manual, a solid missionary spirit is necessary in order to become involved in Solidarity of Personnel. Our prayer is that the Lord will renew in our Order and in each of us that Gospel spirit of missionary outreach which has marked the Franciscan family from the beginning.

With thanks to all the members of the Commission and fraternal good wishes, Your brother,

Br. Mauro Jöhri, General Minister OFMCap

1. Clarification

While various forms of collaboration exist among the jurisdictions in the Order, by Solidarity of Personnel is meant a long-term sharing of personnel between two provinces (or in exceptional cases between several provinces) of the Order, the arrangement being approved by the General Minister and regulated by a contract approved by the General Definitory. It is to be distinguished from Economic solidarity and from Mission understood as the implantation of the Church and the Order in a particular region.

The commitment necessary for those who are sent in Solidarity of Personnel is only possible if it is based on an authentic missionary spirit. This missionary spirit is also expected from the friars of the receiving circumscription, in the sense that they need to be open to new initiatives and approaches in pastoral work and evangelization that may be suggested by the friars who are sent to them.

2. Basics of the Concept of Solidarity of Personnel

• Just as Francis who, challenged by the new social situation of his time, made the world his cloister, so are we called in an increasingly globalised world to transcend the boundaries of provinces and countries. Concretely, this means overcoming all forms of provincialism by becoming open to one another and becoming interested not only in the concerns of the local community or the local Province, but also in the concerns of the entire Order, of the Church and of the world today.

• In this way Solidarity of Personnel becomes an expression of fraternity, interdependence and redeemed relationships, which are essential elements of our Franciscan life-style.

3. The Goals of Solidarity of Personnel

• To strengthen the Capuchin charism in places where the Order has lost its vitality or is in danger of disappearing:

 

    • - by instilling greater dynamism and community spirit into our fraternities;
    • - by revitalising the remaining communities in order to provide a more effective and witnessing presence;
    • - by bridging the age-gap between the friars of the province and possible new candidates;
    • - by helping a project that holds promise for a region, but cannot be sustained by local resources.

 

• To witness to Franciscan brotherhood in the increasingly intercultural society of our time: - by forming international or intercultural communities; - by being involved in social and pastoral services to migrants.

4. Requirements for Solidarity of Personnel

a. For the Receiving Province

i. Conscientising the friars of the Receiving Province, at every stage in the project of Solidarity of Personnel, on the various aspects of the process being carried out .

ii. Articulating and formulating the motives for receiving friars from another province by reflecting on questions such as:

- Why are we inviting friars from another Province to come to our Province on the basis of Solidarity of Personnel?

- What do we expect from them?

iii. Being open to change, reflecting on questions like:

- What changes will be necessary in the emerging new situation?

- Are the friars of the receiving Province prepared to accept and live joyfully through these changes?

iv. The Provincial Minister must make a written request to the General Minister, providing reasons for his application.

b. For the Sending - Province

i. The request for participation in a project comes from the General Minister.

ii. The request should be published, made known and discussed in the province.

iii. The decision either to take part or not to take part is taken by the Provincial Definitory.

c. For the Friars who will be sent

i. They inform themselves about the culture and general conditions of the receiving Province.

ii. They come to terms with the thought of a long term absence from home and with the demands of integrating oneself into a foreign culture.

iii. They are motivated by a missionary spirit.

iv. They possess the necessary capacity to learn a foreign language and should acquire a knowledge of the basics of the language while still in their own country.

5. Preparations for Solidarity of Personnel

a. For the Receiving Province

i. All the friars should familiarize themselves with the culture of the Sending Province, especially the fraternity where the friars will live when they come.

ii. They should build up personal contacts with the friars of the Sending Province (especially with the Provincial and Definitory).

iii. Longer visits of those responsible for Solidarity of Personnel and of those friars with special involvement in the project.

iv. Initial contacts with the friars who will be sent.

b. For the Sending Province

i. General familiarization with the culture of the Receiving Province.

ii. Visits to the receiving Province.

iii. Awareness of the particular challenges of the culture of the Receiving Province.

iv. The friars who are sent are to be freed from all responsibilities so that they can prepare themselves for their new assignment by following a well-designed programme.

6. Implementation Phase

The implementation phase includes both the introductory period and the period of insertion.

a. Introductory period

• This period is the time during which the friar who is sent obtains the qualifications and skills necessary for his involvement in the Receiving Province. The duration of this phase depends upon the particular gifts of the friar who is sent.

• The introductory programme should include the following elements: ○ A basic mastery of the language

○ Cultural integration (geography, history, basic understanding of citizenship, political processes, etc...)

○ Thought patterns and values; critical thinking, life-style, etc....

○ Particular theological emphases in the Church of the Receiving Province.

○ Integration into the Receiving Province: Customs and usages, projects of communities, dealing with money, the way the friars think, forms of spirituality, anecdotes, etc....

○ Integration into the local Church

○ Introductory Course (e.g. the one in Brussels)

○ Methodologically, the introductory phase should, as far as possible, be linked with practice, that is, the different themes should be handled and / or deepened with the aid of concrete experiences. Courses, meetings, lectures, ongoing formation programmes and fraternal conversation: all of these could be availed of.

• The introduction is to be accompanied by a friar designated by the Provincial Minister, who shall also carry out periodic evaluations.

b. Insertion Period

• The transition to the insertion phase takes place gradually, according to the progress of the introductory phase. Much patience is needed.

• It is recommended that the friar who is sent be involved initially in a project which is already under way, in order to build up his confidence

• Since friars from other cultures may see the practices of the Receiving Province from a different perspective, it is recommended that some new and creative projects be developed together with the friars who are sent.

• It is important that the friars who are sent develop a sense of belonging to the Receiving Province in order that they may feel at home there.

7. Contracts

• As an appendix to this Hand book, there is a sample contract, which can serve as a blueprint for drawing up a contract of cooperation between two provinces. The sample contract contains the points which need to be regulated for the implementation of Solidarity of Personnel.

• A contract of cooperation in the framework of Solidarity of Personnel must always be approved by the General Minister.

• Copies of the contract are to be sent to all the friars involved

• The modalities of implementing the social security schemes (Insurances) should be included in the Contract.

• The triennial reports sent to the General Curia shall include an evaluation of the contract and its implementation

8. Alternative Models of Solidarity of Personnel

a. Between several Provinces

Generally, the bilateral model of Solidarity of Personnel is the norm. But in exceptional cases, the General Definitory may endorse cooperation, within the structure of Solidarity of Personnel, involving more than two Provinces.

b. A whole community in a Receiving Province

In cases where a Receiving Province is not able to integrate the friars from another circumscription into their own fraternities, they may offer a particular fraternity to be taken over by the Sending Province.

9. Separation of Solidarity of Personnel from Economic Solidarity

Since Solidarity of Personnel began, it has always been emphasised that Solidarity of Personnel and Economic Solidarity should be kept entirely separate.

Through International Economic Solidarity, the Order strives to promote fraternal sharing of its economic resources. This sharing takes place without linking it to any form of Solidarity of Personnel. However, the Receiving Province should ensure that at the time of retirement after a long period of service, adequate financial arrangements are made with the Sending Province.

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