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National Statutes of the Secular Franciscans in the USA

Introduction

We, the National Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order in the United States of America, called to follow Christ in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi, in order to provide for the life of the Order and specifically for its organization and function, do establish and adopt these Statutes. 
 

Section I 

Organization and Structure

Article 1. National Fraternity 
The National Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order of the United States of America (hereafter NAFRA) 

   1.is a juridical person[1] made up of he Regional Fraternities of the Secular Franciscan Order[2] existing within the United States;[3
   2.is animated and guided by the Minister and by a Council which is duly elected; 
   3.is organized and functions in conformity with the Code of Canon Law, the Rule, the General Constitutions, the Ritual and the current Statutes of the Secular Franciscan Order. [4
Article 2. Governing Bodies 
 
   1.The governing bodies of NAFRA are: 
      a. the National Fraternity Council 
      b. the National Executive Council 
   2.The Conference of National Spiritual Assistants exercises pastoral care and spiritual guidance in regard to NAFRA as one of the integral component parts of the Secular Franciscan Order [5] by suitable means including participation in deliberations of its governing bodies. No Spiritual Assistant at any level, however, shall exercise active voice on any question involving financial matters. 
Article 3. National Fraternity Council 
 
   1.The National Fraternity Council is composed of the Regional Ministers; the National Executive Council; the members of the Conference of National Spiritual Assistants; and the International Councilor. 
   2.a. The International Councilor is elected from professed Secular Franciscans by the National  Fraternity Council, and represents NAFRA on the International Council of the OFS in 
 accordance with its Statutes. (S)he is a member of the National Executive Council and has voting rights. 
     b. At the same time, the National Fraternity Council elects a substitute delegate for the International Councilor should (s)he be prevented from attending the OFS General Chapter.  In the event of such impediment, the Presidency of the International Council, OFS will be informed of it and of the substitute delegation by the National Minister of NAFRA.[6
   3.The business of the National Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order of the United States of America shall be conducted by the National Fraternity Council. 
   4.In addition, the National Fraternity Council has legislative, deliberative and elective powers; in conformity with the Rule and the Constitutions, it may make legislative decisions and 
produce norms valid within its national confines. 
   5.The regular meeting of the National Fraternity shall be the annual meeting of the National Fraternity Council convoked by the National Minister, which convocation shall provide for at 
least two months' notice. 
   6.The National Fraternity Council meets for elections every three years; this meeting is convoked by the National Minister at least two months in advance, indicating the place, the day and the time of the election. 
   7.If considered necessary by the National Executive Council, or when at least one-third of the Regional Ministers requests it, the National Fraternity Council may meet at other times during 
any year. 
   8.The National Fraternity Council has the following duties: 
     a. To make known and promote secular Franciscan spirituality and lifestyle in the United States of America; 
     b. To prepare for the celebration of the national elections, according to these statutes; 
     c. To search out, identify, publish and distribute materials for formation of Secular Franciscans; 
     d. To compose Regional Fraternities according to the General Constitutions and these Statutes; 
     e. To inform appropriate religious Superiors of creation of Regional Fraternities and to seek spiritual assistance for them; 
     f. To maintain liaison with the Presidency of the International Council OFS; 
     g. To elect the U. S. representative to the International Council, and to assume responsibility for the expenses necessary to carry out this commission; 
     h. To set the amount of annual financial contributions to NAFRA from the Regional Fraternities; 
     i. To resolve and clarify inquiries and/or problems that may arise; 
     j. To provide practical and pastoral interpretation of these statutes where necessary; 
     k. To consult with the Conference of National Spiritual Assistants as the delegates of the religious Ministers Provincial concerning composition of Regional Fraternities;[7
     l. To approve the composition of Regional Fraternities; 
     m. To perform such other duties as are set forth in Article 66, Secs. (c), (e), (h), (I), (j), (k), and (l), of the General Constitutions. 
Article 4. Structure for Property Control 
 
    1.In accordance with Art. 54 the General Constitutions, NAFRA is incorporated under the laws of the United States of America, State of Ohio, as "The National Fraternity of the 
Secular Franciscan Order - USA" and has its statutory office at 1615 Vine Street, Cincinnati Ohio 45210. 
   2.The elected officers of the National Fraternity Council shall function as the officers of the  corporation. 
   3.At least every three years, at the direction of the National Fraternity Council, a qualified auditor shall be engaged to conduct an audit of the financial status of the corporation. 
   4.The financial books and records of the corporation shall be maintained by the National Treasurer and shall be open for inspection upon the order of the National Minister or the 
National Executive Council or by any member of the National Fraternity Council upon request and prior written notice. 
   5.Upon the termination of existence of the corporation, all assets, real and personal, tangible and intangible, along with its library and records, shall become the property of the "juridic 
person immediately superior," Secular Franciscan Order, Rome, Italy.[8
 

Article 5. National Executive Council 
 
   1.Between the meetings of the National Fraternity Council, an elected National Executive Council shall carry on the business and carry out the purposes of the National Fraternity in a spirit of ministry and service. 
   2.The National Executive Council is composed of the National Minister, the National Vice Minister, the National Secretary, the National Treasurer, at least one elected Councilor, the President of the Conference of National Spiritual Assistants, and the International Councilor. 
   3.All members of the National Executive Council has voting rights. 
   4.Election of the members of the National Executive Council shall proceed in accordance with Section II of this document. 
   5.The duties of the National Executive Council are: 
     a. To coordinate, animate and guide the SFO at the national level; 
     b. To see that the decisions of the National Fraternity Council are carried out; 
     c. To clarify specific points in these statutes with validity until the next meeting of the National Fraternity Council; 
     d. To resolve urgent problems which may arise, that were not encompassed in the Constitutions or Statutes; 
     e. To intervene to solve serious and urgent problems in a spirit of reconciliation when requested by a Regional Fraternity Council or on its own initiative; 
     f. To hear appeals from decisions of dismissal from membership rendered by Regional Executive Councils were appropriate; 
     g. To set up and direct commissions and committees deemed necessary to achieve the goals and objectives determined upon by the National Fraternity Council; 
     h. At the time of fraternal and pastoral visits, and also on the occasion of their presiding over and witnessing elections, the National Executive Council shall take care to present to CIOFS  officers and to delegates of the President of General Spiritual Assistants a stipend appropriate to the journey made and the length of stay required. 
     i. To administer the financial affairs of NAFRA, including events not foreseen in the annual budget approved at the annual meeting of the National Fraternity Council, such as extraordinary (non-budgeted) expenditures, not to exceed ten per cent (10%) of the annual budget. 

Article 6. Duties of Officers of the National Executive Council 

   1.The National Minister: 
     a. To convoke and preside at the meetings of the National Fraternity Council, and to convoke the National Fraternity Council for elections every three years, according to these 
statutes; 
     b. To act as legal representative for the corporation of the National Fraternity, "The National Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order - USA"; 
     c. To make fraternal visitation of the Regional Fraternity Councils, either personally or  through a delegate; 
     d. To approve when necessary extraordinary (non-budgeted) expenditures, not to exceed one per cent (1%) of the annual budget; 
     e. To perform such other duties as are set forth in Article 67, secs. 1 and 2 (b), (c), (d), (e), and (g) of the General Constitutions.
    2.The National Vice Minister: 
     a. To substitute for the National Minister when (s)he is legitimately impeded from fulfilling  responsibilities. 
     b. Should the office of National Minister become vacant, the National Vice Minister shall succeed to the office in accordance with the provisions of CNS SFO 81. 
 3.The National Secretary: 
     a. To make and keep records of the National Fraternity Council and of the National Executive Council; 
     b. To make and distribute the minutes of the meetings of the National Fraternity Council and of the National Executive Council; 
     c. To give notice of all meetings in accordance with these Statutes; 
     d. To maintain and supervise the archives of the National Fraternity in accordance with instructions of the National Executive Council; 
     e. To perform such other duties as the National Executive Council or National Fraternity Council may designate. 
   4.The National Treasurer: 
     a. To keep account of money and retain custody of all property of the National Fraternity unless otherwise determined by the National Fraternity Council; 
     b. To render such accounts and present such statements to the National Fraternity Council and to the National Executive Council as may be required; 
     c. To deposit all funds of the National Fraternity which may come into the hands of the National Treasurer into such bank accounts in the name of NAFRA as the National Executive Council shall designate; 
     d. To pay out money as the business of the National Fraternity may require as approved in the annual budget or on the order of the National Minister or the National Executive Council, all payments to be made by check only; 
     e. To guard diligently any charitable contributions received, recording each in the appropriate register, with the date on which it was given and the name of the person from whom it was received; 
     f. To submit an annual budget to the National Executive Council for its review, and to the National Fraternity Council for its approval at the annual meeting. 
   5.International Councilor: 
     a. To participate in deliberations of the National Fraternity Council and of the National Fraternity Council informed concerning worldwide activities of the SFO; 
     b. To keep the National Executive Council and the National Fraternity Council informed concerning worldwide activities of the SFO; 
     c. To act as an adviser on international affairs in the Secular Franciscan Order to the National Fraternity Council and the National Executive Council of NAFRA. 
     d. To present to the National Fraternity Council for its approval the report to be presented to the General Chapter of OFS according to Sec. 7.5 of the International Statutes, OFS. 
   6.President of Conference of National Spiritual Assistants: 
     a. To attend meetings of the National Fraternity Council and of the National Executive Council, of which he is a member by right, collaborating with these bodies in all their activities; 
     b. In accordance with his role as President, to act collegially with the other National Spiritual Assistants to coordinate spiritual assistance on the national level and to cooperate in the initial and continuing formation of the brothers and sisters; 
     c. To exercise his active voice [9] in all but financial matters which come before these bodies  for decision. 


Endnotes



[1] Juridical persons are defined and discussed in Title VI, Chapter II, of the Code of Canon Law, 
1983 (hereafter CCL). 

Can. 116 S1. Public juridical persons are aggregates of persons or of things which are established 
by the competent ecclesiastical authority so that, within the limits allotted to them in the name of the 
Church, and in accordance with the provisions of law, they might fulfill the specific task entrusted 
them for the public good. 

Can. 117. No aggregate of persons or of things seeking juridical personality can acquire it unless its 
statutes are approved by the competent authority. 

[2] Legal title for the International body is Ordo Franciscanus Saecularis. (OFS) 

[3] Rule 2; General Constitutions of the Secular Franciscan Order, 1990 (hereafter CNS SFO) 1,5; 
CCL, cc. 210, 214, 303. 

[4] CNS SFO, Art. 4 

[5] Legal title: Ordo Franciscanus Saecularis 

[6] Statutes of the International Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order (hereafter STATS SFO), Art. 22.2 

[7] General Constitutions, Art. 86.1, 88 

[8] CCL Can. 123; again, legal title, Ordo Franciscanus Saecularis. 

[9] Active voice is the right to vote (vox active). Passive voice is the right to be voted upon (vox 
passiva ), that is the eligibility to be elected.

  
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