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History of Franciscans International

1982: The seedlings of Franciscans International (FI) sprout when two Franciscans, Fr. Dionysius Mintoff OFM from Malta and Sr. Elizabeth Cameron OSF (RIP) from the United States write to the Franciscan Family in the US to suggest the possibility of having a Franciscan presence at the United Nations.

1984 - 1988: The idea quickly grows into a common project of the Franciscan Family (FF) and an interfamilial Preparatory Committee is organised in the US for this future ministry.
This Committee prepares the FI Vision Statement based on three main goals:

•    Raise awareness of the interconnectedness of all creation, and thus stressing the need to care for creation – both human and environmental;
•    Promote peace;
•    Voice concern for the world’s poor.

1989: The UN Department of Public Information (DPI) officially recognises Franciscans International as a non-governmental organisation (NGO).
1990: FI opens an office in New York. At this stage the organisation is one based on ‘membership’ with each member paying annual dues.

1991: The Preparatory Committee serves as the Executive Committee for FI and begins the process of applying for Consultative Status (Category 1) with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the UN.

1995: FI receives General Consultative Status with ECOSOC at the UN. This allows FI to participate through oral interventions and written statements in the activities of ECOSOC.

1996: The Conference of the Franciscan Family (CFF) in Rome, which includes the Ministers General of Friar Minors, Capuchins, Conventuals, Third Order Regular and Secular Franciscan Order and the President of the Inter-Franciscan Conference Third Order Regular, appoints a Working Group to prepare a new organizational “Charter” for FI.

1997: FI, with Dominicans for Justice and Peace, opens an office in Geneva, Switzerland where the Human Rights Commission (HRC) of the UN is located. Its focus is on the promotion and protection of human rights: civil, cultural, economic, political and social.

1999: The Conference of the Franciscan Family (CFF) approves the new “FI Charter” and assumes its role as sponsor. The CFF appoints thirteen men and women to the new FI International Board of Directors (IBD). The CFF abolish ‘membership dues’ stating that ALL Franciscans belong to FI and that each branch of the FF should contribute to the running costs of the organization.  

2000: The FI Board meets annually and aligns FI with its new “FI Charter" under the direction of Fr. David B. Couturier OFM Cap, who was elected President of the first IBD.

2001: The CFF writes a letter to the international Franciscan Family, asking for their participation and support for the work of FI.

2003: The CFF appoints a second International Board of Directors, at their first meeting in Maryknoll Seminary in New York Sr. Denise Boyle fmdm, is elected President.

2004, November: Fr. John Quigley OFM is appointed Executive Director for a three year term with responsibility for the New York and Geneva offices.

2005: Through a generous grant from the OFM Capuchins Conference of the United States, FI establishes an Africa Desk to address issues of HIV and AIDS, peacemaking and conflict resolution. Br. Mike Perry, OFM is given responsibility for the implementation of the Africa Desk programme, out of the New York office.

The Anglican First and Third Order Franciscans formally join the CFF as FI sponsors. A partnership is established with the Marist Foundation for International Solidarity (FMSI) who will work with FI out of the Geneva office.

2006: The CFF appoints a third International Board of Directors. Fr. John Celichowski OFM Cap is elected President  

2008: FI opens its third office in Bangkok, Thailand, under the direction of Ms Julie Morgan, the first Regional Director for the Asia Pacific Programme. The primary role of the office is to bring the services of FI closer to the Franciscan Family and the most vulnerable in the Asia Pacific region.  FI will simultaneously work with the regional arm of the UN, the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), located in Bangkok.

Sr. Denise Boyle fmdm is selected as the new Executive Director, after an international employment search, with responsibility for the FI programme including the three regional offices in Bangkok, Geneva and New York.

2009: The CFF appoints a fourth International Board of Directors. Fr. John Doctor OFM is elected the President.
FI begins preparatory work for its first 3-year strategic plan holding consultations with principle stakeholders, the Franciscan Family, funding agencies, donors and service providers.

2010: FI appoints a Regional Director to each of the regional FI offices: Fr. Markus Heinze OFM in Geneva (Germany); Fr. Mike Lasky OFM Conv. in New York (USA); and Mr. Mateusz Tuniewicz in Bangkok, (Poland).

First FI ‘Human Rights Award’ is presented to Fr. Dionysius Mintoff OFM, Malta, for his significant role in encouraging Franciscans to get involved in the UN specifically for their international work on JPIC.

2011:  Sr. Denise Boyle fmdm is appointed Executive Director for another three year term contract to April 2014, by the International Board of Directors.

2010-2012: FI implements its 2010-2012 Strategic Plan detailing a revised vision and mission statement, which better suits the current advocacy work of FI, as requested by the Franciscan Family worldwide.

2011, August: Mateusz Tuniewicz drowns in Bali (RIP) on his way home from an FI workshop in Indonesia. Sanjay Gathia is appointed the ‘Interim Regional Director’ until a new director is appointed.

2012, March:  Fr. Elias Manuel OFM, Bangalore, India is selected as the new Regional Director for the Asia Pacific Programme after an international employment search.

2012: New International Board of Directors appointed by the CFF. Their first meeting is in Geneva in April, where Doug Clorey OFS is appointed as the President.

Fr. Dionysius receives the award from Fr. John Doctor, IBD President

First FI Human Rights Award

At a special celebration in Geneva on 9 April 2010, Fr. Dionysius Mintoff OFM, accepted the first 'FI Human Rights Award' for his founding vision of Franciscans International. In 1982 he was one of two Franciscans to suggest the idea of Franciscans working at the United Nations to bring justice for the poor and the vulnerable. At the Award Ceremony he said: "No one better than Franciscans can play an active role for peace. I want to thank God for the work of Franciscans Intenational. FI is united many religious orders who are doing justice and peace work as a mission. We have to go to the minorities, bring them back to society and give them back their dignity."