The plea made by the Vatican at the United Nations Millennium Summit (2000)—“that Africa be given special attention”—has been in practice for a number of years as Franciscan friars and sisters from Africa have been given scholarships to earn masters’ degrees at the Franciscan Institute. The Institute also affirms the second half of the plea—“that efforts be made which are really capable of meeting its needs”— and to this end has undertaken its African Initiative Project.
While continuing to offer scholarships to the Institute, the Institute is also cognizant of the need to educate, in African institutions of higher learning, the multitude of young women and men who are entering the various Franciscan novitiates in Africa. The goal is to work with Franciscan leadership and Catholic higher education in Africa—sharing personnel, resources, and expertise—to assist African leaders in establishing a degree program in Franciscan theology, a program that, when mature, will be completely in the hands of the African Franciscan family.
Initial efforts have included on-site seminars in Kenya, the shipment of Franciscan texts to Kenya, conversations with male and female Franciscan leadership, and on-going dialog with leadership in The Catholic University of East Africa, Tangaza College, and the Franciscan Family Association of Kenya.