The Secular Franciscan Order (SFO), as its name implies, is the secular or lay Order which is part of the Franciscan Family. Its members commit themselves to live the Gospel after the example of Francis of Assisi. Whereas Franciscan friars and sisters are divided into various families (for example, Friars Minor, Conventuals, Capuchins, etc.), the SFO is a single Order made up of an organic union of local, regional and national fraternities, run by the members themselves under the guidance of the International Council and its Presidency.
Service to the SFO
The four General Assistants are appointed by the General Ministers of the Friars Minor, Conventuals, Capuchins and Third Order Regular (TOR), and are members by right of the International Council. They share responsibility with the other members of the Council executive for the co-ordination, guidance and animation of the SFO worldwide. Their specific task is to give spiritual and pastoral assistance to the SFO, working together as a group. As the Conference of General Assistants they meet nine or ten times a year to plan their activities and share information and responsibilities in the various parts of the world. In particular, they make pastoral visits to the national Councils and attend national Chapters.
The Capuchin General Assistant is Br Amanuel Mesgun Temelso(Prov. Of Eritrea). He works closely with the other General Assistants and with the Presidency of the SFO International Commission.
Serving the Capuchin Order
Each of the four General Assistants does important work within his own Order. Br. Amanuel Mesgun Temelso helps the Capuchin friars to “show a fraternal spirit towards members of the Secular Franciscan Order, to support them by their example in fidelity to the gospel way of life and effectively promote the Order itself both among the diocesan clergy and among the laity" (Const. OFMCap 95,4). Spiritual assistance to the SFO is not an apostolate to be entrusted to experts, but is a part of the life of gospel brotherhood, which we live in communion with the seculars. Hence the insistence on the need for formation of all the friars, not just the Assistants or those in initial formation, so that all are fully aware of the SFO.
This Office can assist you if you need to get in touch with the spiritual assistants and directors of the SFO in the various countries. We are also more than willing to help with the formation of the brothers of your Province regarding the SFO. We can tell you where to find formation resources, texts and materials, and also assist in finding people to give formation courses to the friars, or perhaps even do so personally. Such courses need to be prepared at least 6 months in advance, since it is rarely possible to find people able to come at only a few weeks notice. The same applies when you would like a visit from the General Assistant.
Br. Amanuel Mesgun Temelso, Capuchin General Assistant