The Franciscan Federation: Mutual Love Generating a Future

National Board
From left, Srs. Dorothy McCormack OSF, Kathleen Warren OSF, Mary Maloney SFP, Michele Craig MFIC, Margaret Wick OSF, Ramona Miller OSF, Sue Ernster FSPA, Ann Lyons FSSJ

The 44th Franciscan Federation Annual Assembly was held on July 10 – 13, 2009 at the Hilton Netherland Plaza, Cincinnati, OH .  Mutual Love Generating a Futurewas the theme. Sr. Arlene McGowan, SFP and Sr. Kathy Warren, OSF were the co-chairs, and Sister Arleen Bourquin, SFP chaired the Registration. We SFPs were well represented – 21 of us participated.

Saturday morning began the keynote presentations, and both of the keynote speakers, Patricia Smith, a Sister of St. Francis of Philadelphia and Michael Higgins, the Minister General of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis, focused their presentations on Franciscan leadership:

Sister Pat described the Hallmarks of Franciscan Leadership as: Gospel centered, rooted in authenticity and humility, and dependent upon continuous conversion. The leader has a passion for life and a vision of the future, and successfully communicates it to others -- and helps them overcome obstacles to its achievement.   

Father Mike’s presentation, based on a case study of the leadership style of Sr. Margaret Carney, osf, President of St. Bonaventure University, identified ten characteristics of Franciscan leadership, and ended by asking two questions, “What qualities of Franciscan leadership resonate in your life and ministry?” And, “What might happen if Franciscans unified their leadership to become a more “disturbing presence” in our world today?” 

The Implementation Task Force (ITF) presented the new Franciscan Federation Structure and suggested that we need to walk with it for a year or two to see how everything works out.  Three sessions were held to review by-laws changes, which were accepted in their entirety in the third session. The proposed Structure has three commissions.

Commission of Elected Leadership (CEL) – those currently serving in elected leadership of a TOR member congregation. It provides a forum for elected leaders to deepen the TOR charism in light of their role as minister-leader. Responsibilities:  Its purpose is to address the common issues of elected leaders – and it holds reserved powers.

Commission of Charism Services (CCS)congregational or associate (organizations or individuals) representing Franciscan-related interests. It provides a forum for networking among interest groups and individuals to exchange and develop resources in light of the TOR charism.

Commission of Regions (COR) - active congregational or associate members of the regions. It provides a forum to foster diverse expressions of our TOR charism in service to the sisters and brother in regions. It acts as a forum to meet the particular needs of regions.


Art by Jan Peters

As each commission met they nominated and elected members from the respective commissions to serve on The National Board, which consists of two members from each Commission, plus a Treasurer and Executive Director. However, the Regional Steering Committees, as we currently have them, remain in each Region.

Sr. Mary Maloney, SFP was elected to the Commission of Regions (COR) which subsequently selected her to serve as a member of the National Board for a three-year term. Sr. Arlene McGowan, SFP was elected as a member of the Commission of Charism Services (CSS).

Sunday evening during a festive Franciscan Banquet, the members of the Transformation Team were honored for their accomplishments. Following the meeting, the National Board met to elect officers:  Sr. Ramona Miller, osf, was elected President and Sr. Margaret Wick, osf is Vice-President. The other members of the National Board are: Sisters Kathy Warren, osf, Dorothy McCormack, osf, Mary Maloney, sfp, Michelle Craig, mfic, Sue Ernster, fspa, Treasurer and Ann Lyons, fssj, Executive Director. 

For more details, please visit

The next Annual Franciscan Federation Conference will be held July 30 – August 1, 2010 in Buffalo, NY.

- By Karen J. Hartman, sfp