What is Spiritual Assistance?

Article 18. Local Fraternity

  1. The Local Fraternity is the primary constituent part of the entire structure of Secular Franciscan life to which the member relates [cf. Rule, article #2259].
  2. The provisions of articles #46 and #4760 of the General Constitutions shall govern the canonical establishment of new fraternities and determine the Franciscan friar province which assumes pastoral care [cf. Statutes for Spiritual Assistance, articles #6.161 and #11.262].
  3. The Council of each Local Fraternity is composed according to the requirements of article #49.163 of the General Constitutions. With respect to the fraternity they assist, anyone who serves as a Spiritual Assistant is subject to the same rights and restrictions as are Franciscan religious Spiritual Assistants [cf. articles #1264, #1365, #1566, #2367 and #2468, Statutes for Spiritual Assistance]. Spiritual Assistants who are Secular Franciscans may not be elected to other positions on the Councils of fraternities they assist.
  4. A Local Fraternity may pass to the pastoral care of another friar province of the First Order or Third Order Regular in one of two ways [cf. General Constitutions, article #47.269; Statutes for Spiritual Assistance, article #6.270]: 11

           a.  The Council and Minister of the Local Fraternity approach the Regional                Executive Council, including the Regional Spiritual Assistant(s), with the request for transfer. If the Regional Executive Council, including the Regional Spiritual        Assistant(s), approves the request, the Regional Spiritual Assistant asks the Provincial Ministers or Provincial Spiritual Assistants of the two friar provinces to effect the transfer.

            b.  For the sake of providing better pastoral care, the Provincial Ministers or Provincial Spiritual Assistants of two friar provinces may initiate the transfer of a Local Fraternity from the care of one province to that of the other. The Provincial Ministers or Provincial Spiritual Assistants act in consultation with the Councils, including the Spiritual Assistants, of the Local and Regional Fraternities.

66 SSA Art 15

  1. The Assistant is appointed by the competent major Superior, after consultation with the council of the fraternity concerned.
  2. Where more than one major Superior of the same Order is involved in the appointment of an Assistant, the norms established jointly by the Superiors with jurisdiction in the territory should be followed
  3. The appointment of the Assistant is made in writing and for a limited time, which accumulated cannot be more than twelve years.
  4. When it is not possible to give the fraternity a Spiritual Assistant who is a member of the First Order or the TOR, the competent major Superior can entrust the service of spiritual assistance to:  a) religious brothers or sisters of other Franciscan institutes;  b) secular Franciscans, cleric or lay, specially prepared for such service;  c) other diocesan clerics or non-Franciscan religious.

Taken from the National Statutes of the Order of Secular Franciscans in the USA.