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About the Secular Franciscan Order

OVERVIEW

The rule and life of the Secular Franciscan is this; to observe the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by following the example of St Francis of Assisi, who made Christ the inspiration and the centre of his life with God and people. 

Christ, the gift of the Father's Love is the way to Him, the Truth into which the Holy Spirit leads us and the Life He had come to give abundantly. 

Secular Franciscans are required to devote themselves especially to careful reading of the Gospel, going from Gospel to life and life to the Gospel.

OUR HISTORY 

St Francis of Assisi, the Saint known and loved the world over, was born at Assisi, in central Italy, in the year 1181, the son of a wealthy merchant. He died there in 1226, after a life in Christ that earned him the title "Poverello" - little poor man.

As a youth, like many young people today, Francis "discovered" Jesus. He found Him in the Gospel, poor and suffering. Francis made up his mind to identify himself with his crucified Lord. In the words of Pope Pius XI, "So lifelike and strikingly did the image of Jesus Christ and the· Gospel manner of life shine forth in Francis, that he appeared to his contemporaries almost as though he were the Risen Christ.". Saint Francis attained this marvelous ideal by making the Holy Gospel! in every detail, the rule and standard of his life.

Others wanted to live as Francis lived, men and women, single and married. These followers became the Franciscan Family.

Friars (First Order): Priests and Brothers who live in community with vows. 

Poor Clare's (Second Order): Cloistered women who live in a contemplative community with vows.

The simple Gospel way of life of St. Francis of Asslsi attracted a vast number of lay people and Diocesan Clergy. They received direction from Francis and were known as the "Brothers and Sisters of Penance". Receiving an official Rule in 1238, they were called "The Third Order of St Francis" and today are known as the "Secular Franciscan Order".


MEMBERSHIP: Secular Franciscans are Lay people and Diocesan Clergy who follow the Rule of the Secular Franciscans in living the Gospel in the spirit of St. Francis and St. Clare. The Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) is for single, married and priests who are not already members of another religious or secular Order. One must be 18 years of age, and a practicing Catholic, faithful to the teaching of the Catholic Church and loyal to the Apostolic See. There is a regional and national Youth and Young Adults 18-35 SFO division. Secular Franciscans, by virtue of their solemn promise, are required to observe the Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order, approved by the Church (Pope Paul VI, 1978).

PRAYER LIFE: Prayer is an integral part of the lives of Secular Franciscans. They are required to pray the Liturgy of the Hours at various times during the day, and to live a sacramental life. Francis put great emphasis on the "spirit of prayer and devotion." The intense, simple and spontaneous nature of his prayer is summarized in his famous prayer: "My God and My All"

FRANCISCAN FRATERNITY: Secular Franciscans assemble frequently as a true spiritual family called "Fraternity". We gather together as a community of faith, to rekindle our Franciscan ideals and to receive nourishment for our spiritual journey; to share our struggles and celebrate our successes.

FRANCISCAN APOSTOLATE: As a Lay Order, the Secular Franciscan Order stresses conversion, seeking Christian perfection first. The second basic but equally essential aim is the personal and social apostolate. Secular Franciscans are expected to be active in their Parishes and to give special care to working in six areas that should be concerns for every Christian today:

Family 
Work 
Justice, Peace & the Integrity of Creation (JPIC)
Youth 
Ecumenism 

Expressed another way, the mission of the Secular Franciscan is to present Christ to the world and offer loving service to His people, especially the poor and marginalized. A response to God's call to St. Francis 'go re-build my Church,' to be builders of God's Church through the charisms endowed, and by bring. We are called to be messengers of Peace, Joy and Hope to our families and to society by the example of our daily lives.