(This article originally appeared in the Winter 2019 Issue #99 of the TAU-USA and was Highlights of the National Chapter 2019)

National Formation Commission Chair, Diane Menditto, OFS, announced the launching of an “exciting, new” initiative in the USA.

She began by explaining the visioning processes that occurred with formation directors and spiritual assistants from around the country. “Our two Visioning Workshops were part of the listening process and were guided by the Holy Spirit. We are now ready to go further in sharing the outcomes of our visioning.”

“Merely editing and reformatting our formation materials, principally the FUN Manual, was not enough,” she explained. “Essential topics such as prayer, Scripture, our Catholic Faith as expressed in the Creed, Franciscan sources, and chapters dedicated exclusively to the role the Rule and Constitutions play in our daily lives were not included in our current formation texts or manuals.”

While all material used in the past, including the FUN Manual, are the inspiration, resource and background for the new initiative, the new Formation Program would offer comprehensive, fresh and easy-to-read material in easily accessible and manageable bites of information, she said.

The program will consist of:

  • Two student manuals, one for the Orientation and Inquiry Stage and one for the Candidacy Stage. Individual chapters will be short, engaging and appropriate for those who are new to our Franciscan family. They will be in color and downloadable by chapter. Chapters will include reflection/discussion questions, activities and ideas for practical application, frequent references to the Rule and Constitutions, and opportunities for deepening one’s spirituality.
  • A Formator’s Guide, which will correspond to each chapter and will have tips and ideas for presenting the material and suggestions of other resources.
  • A General Guide for Formators at all levels, which will give insights on how to present material, work with adults, and help those in formation to discern their journey and deepen their spirituality.

As the Program develops, the Commission also intends to supply audio visual material to supplement the initial formation experience.

The material will be translated into the major languages spoken by fraternities in the United States.

Many of the chapters from the FUN Manual will be re-written (some by the original authors) to ensure conformity to the new rubrics. The material will be clear and concise.

“Since we are dealing with persons in initial formation, we want the material to INITIATE them into and INTRODUCE them to the Order,” she emphasized. “Rather than filling our candidates with information, our goal is to provide a resource that will assist them in the transformative process and the discernment of their vocation.”

She expects the project to be completed within the next three years.

“We know that good formation is the answer to many of our challenges and will bring strength and joy to the Order.”

(Note: The complete FUN Manual will continue to be available as one of our formation resources.)

— Mary Stronach, OFS