YOUFRA–Franciscan Youth

Touching the hearts of young people,

Vision for Franciscan Youth in the United States
Ríobart (Rob) Breen, OFS Chair, Franciscan Youth and Young Adult (YouFra) Commission
In the previous issue of Tau USA, we looked at some of the challenges for developing a strategy and goals in reaching out to young people with the Gospel life in the spirit of Francis and Clare.

What worked for previous generations of young Catholics will not be appropriate for most of this next generation today. We will need the Holy Spirit’s vision, creativity and sensitivity in order for us to touch the hearts of young people, and invite them into the Franciscan Family. Let us first review how YouFra is set up, and then see the vision for a new YouFra movement in the U.S.

Officially, YouFra is supposed to be its own organization, with its own constitutions, its own local, regional and national fraternities, its own elected leaders,and its own financial resources. The Secular Franciscan Order is to provide support, mentoring, guidance and assistance with formation for YouFra. The relationship is similar to the relation the Friars have with the Secular Franciscan Order. The Secular Franciscan Order should also have structures in place to support YouFra at every level, and always ready to invite YouFra members should they want to pursue a deepening adult vocation to the Franciscan Gospel life as professed Secular Franciscans.

Since there is no YouFra organization established in the United States yet, according to our rule and constitutions, it is the responsibility of the Secular Franciscan Order in the United Sates to rebuild a viable and active Franciscan Youth (YouFra)* movement and organization. In the words of Francis, “Let us begin again, for until now we have done nothing.” Here is the general vision that we will be unfolding over the next few years to make this happen.

Rebuilding YouFra will be done primarily by regional fraternities and councils working with local fraternities. However, there is a strong need for the first several years for initial capacity building and visioning by the National Fraternity and Council (NAFRA) to spur this nationwide YouFra movement. This will be done by building the capacity of regional councils to help both local OFS fraternities and emerging YouFra fraternities. This will require:

1.Establishing a national YouFra vision and goals through a collaborative national YouFra commission;
2. Facilitating national networking and communication with regional and local OFS Franciscan Youth chairs, and with YouFra members and leaders as they emerge;
3.Initiating a communications and outreach project to connect with young adults who are interested in forming YouFra fraternities;
4.Developing new YouFra materials and curriculum for formation, and servant leadership training;
5. Developing initial draft guidelines for YouFra constitutions; 6. Disseminating successful models for YouFra fraternities;
7. Hosting annual regional gatherings for YouFra and OFS.

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