Frequently Asked Questions
1 What is the Secular Franciscan Order (OFS)?
Secular Franciscans, as the name implies, live their lives in the world rather than in religious communities. They may be single or married, women or men, in all walks of life. They live the Gospel in a Franciscan manner according to their own Rule which they profess after a period of initial formation. Profession as a Secular Franciscan is a lifelong commitment. Formation and profession of the Secular Franciscan takes place within a local community called a fraternity. Life in fraternity is an essential aspect of the Secular Franciscan vocation. The fraternity is a community of love, the privileged place for the sisters and brothers to develop their sense of Church and the Franciscan call. Although a self-governing Order, each Secular Franciscan fraternity receives guidance in spiritual matters from a spiritual assistant, usually a friar from one of the other Franciscan Orders. These relationships are particularly strong between Secular Franciscans and the Franciscan friars with whom they share common roots in the Franciscan penitential tradition.
2 What do Secular Franciscans do?
Essentially Secular Franciscans live and do their work as anyone else does, but with a consciousness of trying to live the Gospel values in their lives especially in family and work life. In particular, their daily lives are most usually involved in the life of the parish (serving as lectors, Extraordinary Eucharistic Ministers often taking Communion to the sick, sacristans, Parish Council members, volunteers with St Vincent de Paul and other charities and where possible promote St Francis and his spirituality (work in soup kitchens, volunteer in hospitals, work for justice, peace and integrity of creation).
3 Can I meet your order and see how you live your lives?
Yes, indeed. This is the best way to learn about the Secular Franciscans. We meet on the 2nd Sunday of each month at 1 p.m. at the Cross in the Woods Shrine, 7078 M 68, Indian River, Michigan. Here you can meet Secular Franciscans, get to know us and discern if you are a Franciscan at heart.
4 What does it mean to be a Secular Franciscan?
Secular Franciscans commit themselves to live the Gospel according to Franciscan spirituality in their secular condition. The Secular Franciscan must personally and assiduously study the Gospel and Sacred Scripture to foster love for the word of the Gospel as it is proclaimed by the Church with the assistance of the Holy Spirit. Secular Franciscans, called in earlier times “the brothers and sisters of penance”, propose to live in the spirit of continual conversion. Secular Franciscans should pledge themselves to live the spirit of the Beatitudes and, in a special way, the spirit of poverty. Evangelical poverty demonstrates confidence in the Father, affects interior freedom, and disposes them to promote a more just distribution of wealth. They pledge themselves to reduce their own personal needs so as to be better able to share spiritual and material goods with their brothers and sisters, especially those most in need. They should take a firm position against consumerism and against ideologies and practices which prefer riches over human and religious values and which permit the exploitation of the human person. They should love and practice purity of heart, the source of true fraternity.
05 Who can join the Secular Franciscan Order?
To be a Secular Franciscan one must be a Catholic of good standing, single or married (your spouse agreeing). A diocesan priest can also become a Secular Franciscan, indeed a pope can be a Secular Franciscan. A practicing Catholic is one who attends Mass on Sundays weekly. Being a Secular Franciscan is a deeper commitment to your Catholic faith as a single or married person to live a Gospel-orientated life. You must be at least 18 years of age. Conditions for admission are: to profess the Catholic faith, to live in communion with the Church, to be of good moral standing, and to show clear signs of a vocation.