Revitalization + Restructuring
of Franciscan Life in the US
FAQs About R+R
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the answers to some questions about the Revitalization and Restructuring (R+R) of the OFM Franciscans in the US
What is Revitalization and Restructuring (R+R)?
While the number of religious is growing in Asia and Africa, it is dropping in Europe and in the US. Provinces that comprised more than a thousand men are now down to only a few hundred; provinces that started fewer friars are now similarly much reduced in number.
There are savings which can be gained by combining vocation offices, accounting offices, communication offices, etc. Restructuring will allow more of the money generously donated to the Franciscans by the people of God to be dedicated to our works.
What is a “province”?
St. Francis of Assisi established our order to be a decentralized one. While we do have a minister general in Rome, who is the successor to St. Francis, most of the day-to-day decisions in the order are made by the various local provinces throughout the world.
St. Francis also took Jesus’s mandate that the “first shall be last and the last shall be first” to heart. Unlike some religious congregations which call their leaders superiors, in the Franciscans, the leaders are called ministers and guardians. The head of each province is referred to as a provincial minister.
How many provinces are there?
What was the recent vote about?
The only issue before the friars in these chapters was the formation of a new province in order to renew and revitalize Franciscan life and ministry within the United States.
Since the power to create provinces is reserved to the minister general and his councilors in Rome, the friars voted on whether to have their provincial ministers petition the minister general and his council, asking them to allow these six provinces to form one new province.
One US province, the Immaculate Conception Province, based in New York City, had already decided to not participate in the R+R process.
What's the next step?
How long is this going to take?
What’s going to happen to my parish/ministry/favorite friar?
For the friars themselves, there will be a much richer variety of possible ministry opportunities available. A young man may want to serve in a California mission, or with migrants on the southern border, or in one of our colleges and universities, or in different parish settings, or with different language groups, or in direct service to the poor, or some mixture of these ministries during his life. No longer will he be restricted to those ministries available only in the area of the country served by his current province.
Is R+R a positive step?
Friars have been living in one of the existing provinces for many years. They were received and formed by their province. Their closest friar friends are usually within their province. We have shared stories — some true and some mythical. In leaving this behind, there will, of course, be some sadness and grieving. Friars worry if the traditions, struggles, and histories of their provinces will be respected and maintained in the new province.
At the same time, the richness of new ministry opportunities, as well as a large number of new collaborators and potential new friends brings an excitement. An integral part of the process is the revitalization of Franciscan life, and this also adds a feeling of excitement and hope.
Our founder, St. Francis of Assisi, realized that there is enthusiasm and energy when beginning a new project. St. Bonaventure tells us that St. Francis would tell the other friars: “Let us begin again, brothers, for up until now, we have done little or nothing.” One of Francis’s other biographers, Friar Thomas of Celano, tells us that Francis “did not consider that he had already attained his goal, but tireless in pursuit of holy newness, he constantly hoped to begin again.”