Every year during the month of October, the Project Managers and the International Commission of Economic Solidarity comes to the General Curia in Rome to discuss the numerous applications for missionary subsidies, initial formation subsidies, and projects. After studying the applications, an official recommendation is made to the General Minister and his Council for their consideration and approval at their November meeting. Thus, the work by these brothers, who come from all the different parts of the world and who all have particular experiences and preparation for evaluating the project proposals which we receive, is an invaluable service for the General Minister and Council in determining which requests should receive funding during the following fiscal year.
The resources available for Economic Solidarity continue to be present, but also have been declining over the past several years. Thus, not all project requests can be approved and priorities must be made according to the applications received. Subsidies for the missionary activity of the Order and the initial formation of our young brothers in new parts of the world are given first priority since the implantation of the Order in new parts of the world must always be a priority for the entire Order. The Project Managers and the Commission members also take into account the resources that a new circumscription might have to become self-reliant upon a local fraternal economy, with the projection of helping those circumscriptions which currently receive a subsidy to become sustainable in the future.
As a second priority, the Project Managers and the Solidarity Commission consider the requests for projects. Often these project requests are for the establishment of new friaries or formation houses in places where the Order has not yet been fully implanted. Other projects which the Solidarity Office has considered have been projects that could lead to the generation of income to the circumscription, in an effort toward self-sustainability. Other projects have been in support of the needs of the Capuchin Poor Clares. In the past couple of years, the Solidarity Office has also received requests for study burses for brothers in Africa to study in such areas as Health Care ofr Education in their own countries, so as to be prepared to work in institutions and programs in jobs that would be coherent with our charism while also providing a salary as income to the local fraternity.
In the case of the project request, for a proposal to be considered, a concept note must first have been received by the Office of Economic Solidarity before May 31. Then, the rest of the application materials, including the application form, architectural designs and building plans (in the case of a building project), overall budget, quotes, land title deed, and all other pertinent information needed to arrive at the Solidarity Office by August 31. This documentation was then scanned into electronic form and prepared in files so that everything would be organized for study by the Project Managers. All electronic copies were sent out to the Project Managers ahead of the meeting for their perusal.
Upon arriving at the Curia, the Project Managers assess each subsidy request according to the need of each circumscription and make a proposal to the Solidarity Commission regarding the amount of subsidy which the circumscription should receive next year. A further recommendation is made regarding how much longer the subsidy will be needed, based on the particular economic situation of the country and the situation regarding the number of brothers, both in and out of initial formation, in the circumscription. For each project proposal, the Project Managers study the feasibility of the project, the urgency of the project, the completeness of the proposal, and the extent to which the circumscription is economically capable of contributing to the completion of the project. From this, the Project Managers make a recommendation regarding whether the project should receive funding, or if the proposal needs further development and would better be considered the following year.
Upon receiving the proposals from the Project Managers, the Commission members vote on each one, making the official recommendation to the General Council. Within all of this work, everyone involved must also take into account the spending limit; for the year 2018 the General Minister and his Council approved a total of USD 4 million for all subsidies and projects. Since the total requested was more than USD 7 million, the work in determining which requests should be approved and which should not is immense. Thus, the thirteen brothers who form these two groups take their responsibility seriously as a service to the entire Order in studying how best to use the resources for the purpose of spreading and implanting our charism throughout the world.
The work of the Project Managers and of the Solidarity Commission is one of technical assistance to the General Minister and his Council. At the November General Council meeting, the decision on each of these project requests rests with them. A word of thanks is in order, then, to the brothers who lend their talents to the Order to help the General Minister and Council in this great work.