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From 1999 to 2018, the Franciscan Common Venture (FCV) consisted of a collaborative relationship between the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration (FSPA) of La Crosse, Wis., the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi (OSF) of Milwaukee, Wis., the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist (FSE) of Meriden, Conn., and the Tertiary Sisters of St. Francis (TSSF) of Cameroon. Three of these congregations had a common, USA foundation in 1849. In 1995, they articulated their desire for an inter-congregational celebration of gratitude for their 150th anniversary. To foster the intent of their joint 150th anniversary, a commitment was made by the three congregations to engage in a common ministry venture that would address systemic change. Concurrently, the Cameroon Province of the Tertiary Sisters of St. Francis was searching for what it meant to be African and Franciscan women religious within the experiential context of European colonization.
The 1997 International Franciscan Conference-Third Order Regular in Assisi, Italy, articulated a goal to promote inter-religious dialogue through companion relationships between Franciscan congregations so as to move toward global communion. It was in this context that doors opened between the USA Franciscans and the African Franciscans. The relationship since that time demonstrated a spirit of mutuality, friendship, and cross-cultural understanding that recognized the struggle of women religious to break barriers that sometimes prevent full realization of their potential for identity, mission, and utilization (stewardship) of resources.
The past 19 years have demonstrated a working model for women religious who may be seeking to establish meaningful relationships with their counterparts in the developing world.
“Leading with Prophetic Hope” was a project which provided a program schema that took this relationship to a new level of organizational growth and development. It opened up new avenues of transparency with the implementation of congregation-wide organizational awareness and accountability, capacity building through advanced educational achievement, and implementing the steps needed for the desired evolution for coming of age in the 21st century for an African-based congregation of women religious.
The primary population served by this project was the Province of the Tertiary Sisters of St. Francis (TSSF) of Cameroon with missions in 11 dioceses and four other African countries (the Central African Republic, Nigeria, Congo, and Morocco). The secondary population included the entire congregation of the Tertiary Sisters of St. Francis with its Generalate in Rome, Italy, the Brixen-Italy Province, the Hall-Austria Province, and the TSSF Region of Bolivia. Tertiary populations served were other congregations of women religious in Cameroon and all the people they serve through their ministries in Cameroon and other African countries.