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Organization: Secular Franciscan Order, SFO National Fraternity of Canada
The following information may be cited or quoted as long as the source is accurately mentioned and the words are not taken out of context.
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PROGRESS: Has your organization seen progress toward a culture of peace and nonviolence in your domain of action and in your constituency during the first half of the Decade?

YES! In January 2000 in response to the United Nations Declaration of The International Year for the Culture of Peace, the Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) in Canada (www.ofsnational.ca) set up its National Commission on Justice and Peace. That Commission defined, with specific objectives for each, the following goals:

1 - Affirm and challenge the Secular brothers and sisters in their efforts to re-explore and re-think the basics of the Rule from the perspective of peace and justice.

2 - Help with the ongoing identification of systems which deny human dignity and freedom, and adopt focused and non-violent confrontation of those systems as an aspect of Secular Franciscan ministry at the national, provincial, regional and local levels.

3 - Encourage the Secular brothers and sisters to collaborate fully in the peace and justice work and mission plan of the local church.

4 - Integrate and coordinate the peace and justice efforts of the Secular Franciscan Order with the other branches of the Franciscan Family in North America.

5 - Affirm and challenge the Secular brothers and sisters to recognize, understand and embrace peace and justice ministry as an essential element of their Franciscan
evangelical vocation, through the processes of initial and ongoing formation.

6 - Assure that the brothers and sisters are informed of the ways the Franciscan Vision of peace and justice is being specifically, prophetically, enfleshed by friars, sisters, seculars, and others who are not formally joined to the Franciscan Family, in Canada and around the world.

Peace is as much a never-ending ongoing process as a goal or a concept; and this is particularly true in the case of Secular Franciscans who are called to constantly strive to be at peace within oneself as well as in harmony with all of the Creation, animate or inanimate as they endeavour to live charitably, dynamically hoping for the best, in faith in Divine mercy and grace through the examples of Jesus Christ, Francis and Clare of Assisi.

At this stage, though without quantifying indicators, we can confidently say that there is progress in the advancement of a culture of peace to the extent that the brethren and sisters across the country have been more than ever sensitised about the quest for peace and the conscious concerted global movement for a culture of peace, from the signing of the Manifesto 2000 for the Culture of Peace, to the ensuing UN Declaration and Program of Action of the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the children of the World, 2001-2010. Also we can, undeniably, say that over the first half of the Decade not many would not have had their relative peace jolted by vivid media reporting of unprecedented acts of violence in one form or another on one individual or many, by an individual, an organisation or a state. Most of us would have had ample opportunity to fathom what peace and non-violence really means to us.

In Canada we welcome the recent launch of the Canadian Culture of Peace Program (www.peace.ca/canadiancultureofpeaceprogram.htm), under the honorary chairmanship of Douglas Roche O.C. (www.douglasroche.ca) renowned peace and disarmament advocate, past Canadian ambassador, parliamentarian, senator and author of several books, including ‘The Human Right to Peace’. We are hopeful that the formation of the CCOPP bodes well for the advancement of the culture of peace in Canada, and the world, as it develops a network stakeholders for effective concerted action and new synergies. We look forward to be active within the CCOPP.

Note that the SFO rule calls secular Franciscans individually and as a group to “be in the forefront in promoting justice”, and by extension peace, “by the testimony of their human lives and their courageous initiatives.”  Even the Franciscan greeting “Peace and all good!” (In Italian “Pace e bene!”), demonstrates intrinsically this prayerful desire of Franciscans to be channel, even instruments, of peace of the Lord. Often that greeting is extended as “Peace and joy!” reflecting the desire to be joyful at all times in discerning perfecting gratitude for all and everything.

It is inspiring and motivating that we the peoples are taking stock of progress of the culture of peace, at this mid-point of the International Decade, in this unprecedented way through the civil society world report being coordinated by Frederico Mayor and David Adams, both lead proponents of the Culture of Peace once at UNESCO. May, by the grace of God, this exercise lead to concrete measures and actions by the international community as well as nations, governments, corporations, organizations, local communities and individuals for the sincere and true advancement of a culture of peace and non-violence.

OBSTACLES: What are the most important obstacles that have prevented progress?

There are over 8000 professed members of the Secular Franciscan Order in 73 fraternities across Canada.

-          Lack of resources, or even insufficient mobilization of resources, for concerted systematic action, follow-up and gauging of progress. Generally so far, actions have been left mostly to the discretion of individual members and local fraternities.

-         Need for a better defined and coordinated SFO national plan of action for the culture of peace which nonetheless empowers the different levels of the Order, from the individual member, to the local fraternity, region and national levels, both in the English and French sectors; to the extent possible encouraging more joint actions and activities.

-          Until the launch of the Canadian Culture of Peace Program, there was a lack of an overall national program of action and networking structure.

ACTIONS: What actions have been undertaken by your organization to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence during the first half of the Decade?

-          Fraternities have been encouraged to nominate a member responsible for the ministry of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC). These JPIC representatives are part of a regional and national JPIC network and through them the members’ attention is drawn to related issues.

-          Some regions and local fraternities have newsletters. There is also a French magazine.

-         It is expected that members of the Secular Franciscan Order live their Franciscan Christian Charisma simply, charitably, in faith doing their best while hoping for the best, mindful of the Divine seed in all. This they are expected to do in the world, hence the term secular, in their families, place of work and communities. Many are also involved in other organisations showing love and care for the poor, the sick, the mentally ill, the homeless, refugees and new immigrants, as well as in organisations such as Amnesty International, and Development and Peace (www.devp.org) which seeks to develop awareness and active solidarity among Canadians, as well about and for other peoples, in order to guarantee a more just, peaceful and sustainable future for all. The SFO is in liaison with Franciscans International (www.franciscansinternational.org) which has general consultative status at the United Nations. More recently there has been noteworthy implication of SFO in developing the Canadian Culture of Peace Program.

ADVICE: What advice would you like to give to the Secretary-General and the General Assembly to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence during the second half of the Decade?

The Secular Franciscan Order in Canada prayerfully hopes that with Divine grace the Secretary General will consider carefully the world civil society report being compiled by the Culture of Peace Foundation for his benefit, as well as other inputs, and subsequently   make all appropriate recommendations to the General Assembly to secure sure commitment of all member states to foster effectively the culture of peace and non-violence, mindful of the Divine seed in each person in their own respective societies as well as globally.

PARTNERSHIPS: What partnerships and networks does your organization participate in, thus strengthening the global movement for a culture of peace?

The Secular Franciscan Order in Canada has over 8000 professed members in Canada distributed in 73 local fraternities across the country. Communication is ongoing with the Inter-community Franciscan Animation Service in Montreal to study ways of consolidating that service so as to ensure a more effective coordination equally in the anglophone and francophone sectors as presently the focus is mostly within the latter.

SFO is also active in the Canadian Culture of Peace Program network of stakeholders actively working to advance the culture of peace.

Through the International Council of the Franciscan Order, of the Catholic Church, SFO Canada is part of a vast international network of SFO fraternities and Christians all over the world.

All Franciscans being de facto members of Franciscans International (FI), which has Consultative Status at the United Nations, SFO Canada endeavours to act locally in liaison with FI on the global stage.

PLANS: What new engagements are planned by your organization to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence in the second half of the Decade (2005-2010)?

-          While mindful of the specificities of the Secular Franciscan Order, its place in the Catholic Church, be active in the Canadian Culture of Peace Program at all levels, and promote cooperation to share the Canadian experience in fostering the Culture of Peace.

-          Endeavour to have a more effective network of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) representatives in the SFO across Canada.

-          Consolidate to the extent possible joint coordination, francophone and anglophone sectors, within the whole Franciscan Family to ensure unity of purpose, and effectiveness of actions with regards to JPIC.

-         Coordinate active participation, in particular fostering interreligious dialogue, of members of the Franciscan family, in Canada and from other countries, in the World Peace Forum 2006, to be hosted by the City of Vancouver, B.C., Canada from 23rd to 28th June 2006.

Postal address of organization

c/o David Bouchard, sfo
National JPIC Coordinator
Secular Franciscan Order
107 McLevin Cres.
Red Deer,
Alberta, T4R 1S8
Canada

E-mail address of organization

information@ofsnational.ca
(Mid-decade Report coordinator, Tex Albert: tex@ekoviraz.com)

Website address of organization

www.ofsnational.ca

Highest priority action domain of a culture of peace

Understanding, tolerance, solidarity

Second priority action domain of a culture of peace

Sustainable development

Highest priority country of action (or international)

Canada

Second priority country of action (or international)

International
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Organization: Secular Franciscan Order, SFO National Fraternity of Canada

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