During the last session of the General Definitory (February, 2020), the Minister General, with his Definitory, completed the final text of the Order’s Six-Year Plan (PSO). Today we present it to the friars in the four official languages of the Order.

We shall answer some questions from a hypothetical Friar X, who after six years, is once again looking at a Six-Year Plan of the Order. He will certainly ask:

– Do we really need a Six-Year Plan? Who says we must draft one?
– The General Statutes speak of the Six-Year Plan only in passing, saying: “The Provincial Four-Year Plans are to harmonize with the Six-Year Plan of the Order” (General Statutes, 125, §3). The same is said regarding the Custodial Four-Year Plan (cf. General Statutes, 128, §4). However, from this we know that there should be a PSO.

– What should be in the text of the PSO?
– That is explained in detail in the General Statutes.  At no. 84, it states that the objective of the Plan is the Order’s more meaningful and effective presence in the Church and in the world.

– Yes, but what does a “more meaningful and effective presence” mean?
– The Order will be more meaningful, and will be able to speak with greater wisdom and effectiveness, only if it lives and proclaims the Gospel, which is the only true news that can change people’s lives. Without the Gospel, the Order cannot be effective. For this reason, Christ and his Gospel are at the heart of the Plan—nothing else. The General Statutes express this again at no. 84. They affirm there must be a plan, and immediately add that such a plan is to “highlight the following of Christ in fraternity and in formation as priorities,” and that it is necessary to “take into consideration a pluriformity of activities that better express the specific aspects of the Order’s charism.”

– So, is this what the Plan should talk about?
– Yes, in the 2019-2025 Six-Year Plan, the Minister General describes our life and discusses three very important areas: fraternity, mission and formation, that is, letting ourselves be transformed by the Gospel.

– The friars want to know what they should do! Does the Plan state what they should do?
– Yes and no. Yes, because it mentions that having celebrated the General Chapter, we have already discussed what we should do. We have the revised Constitutions and Statutes and the Chapter Motions. That is enough. Now, we need to take up those inspirations again and the Plan invites us to do just that!
However, the Plan does not say how, when or in what way the friars should carry it out. That lies open to the creativity of the Jurisdictions, the communities and individual friars. In the meantime, the Government of the Order works on that for which it is directly responsible. Thus, it reorganizes the General Secretariat for Mission Animation, gives consideration to Franciscan Discipleship, etc.

– We will have many important anniversaries over the next six years. Obviously, nothing will be done about them.
– No, the Plan refers to them! They are, in fact, a great source of inspiration! Let’s start with the great Antonian celebration which commemorates the 800th anniversary of the decision that Fernando from Lisbon made to become a friar. For this event, the Government of the Order is proposing an Antonian themed event, in collaboration with some Jurisdictions, to be carried out during WYD 2022. However, here too, local creativity will be needed!

Recently, we have come to realize that our plans are very fragile. An invisible virus with a diameter of 80-160 nanometers has made the whole world go haywire and brought it to a halt.
– Quite right. That is why the PSO is not a plan for a business. It does not dictate fixed deadlines or calculate product value. The PSO is made with the understanding that we are fragile, that there will be failures, sin, defeats and, who knows, perhaps new viruses.  That is why the PSO talks about processes and works in progress, which need to be started, carried out and verified. Moreover, in all of this, life must be taken into account. We must trust, with total serenity, that history has never escaped, and will never escape, the hand of our Father in heaven.

The Secretary General