Becoming part of the OFS
Welcome, dear visitor, to the website of the Secular Franciscan Order in Great Britain.
Is St Francis, the saint from whom Pope Francis took his name, inviting you? Come
and see. Francesco Bernardone, the son of a wealthy merchant, dreamt of fulfilment
through achievements, honours and knighthood. But God planned otherwise. What
has God planned for you? Come and see.
In fulfilling God’s plan for him Francis founded three orders: the Friars Minor, the
Poor Ladies (the Poor Clares); and the Brothers and Sisters of Penance, a lay order
of people living a rich gospel life, while living and working in the world. For this last
order Francis wrote a rule which was approved by Pope Honorius II in 1221. This
order later became known as the Third Order of St Francis, and is now known as the
Secular Franciscan Order (or Ordo Franciscanus Saecularis). OFS for short! The
original exhortation written by Francis still forms part of our Rule today.
Over eight centuries many Secular Franciscans have been beatified and canonised.
They came from all walks of life. The latest will be Zelie Martin (mother of St Thérèse
of Lisieux, The Little Flower), who is expected to be canonised, along with her
husband, Blessed Louis, at a ceremony held during the world Synod of Bishops on
the family in October 2015.
There are around 350,000 members of the OFS worldwide in more than one
hundred countries. Lay people and diocesan clergy join the OFS. St John Vianney
was a member as were nine popes.
How does God want to use you? Is St Francis inviting you? Come and see.
How to find out more about the OFS
To find out more about the ofs contact us at email@example.com and we will send you the
address of your nearest local fraternity. There are over one hundred local fraternities
in England, Scotland and Wales, where a warm Franciscan welcome will await you at
a regular monthly meeting. Members meet together to share fellowship, to explore
matters of faith, and to deepen their understanding of the Gospel (which so inspired
Francis), of the Church (of which Francis was a loyal member), and of Franciscan
Meetings of our fraternities are open to newcomers. You are most welcome to
attend. After several months as a visitor, followed by a more structured period of
enquiry, you may choose to begin the journey of commitment. You will follow a
detailed formation programme which is a journey of discovery, a journey inwards,
your souls journey to deeper communion with God; exploring Franciscan spirituality
and discerning, along with the formation team and your sponsor, your true Christian
and Franciscan vocation. This journey may well take several years (indeed it will
take a lifetime!), for we seek to look at Christ with the eyes of Francis (as the
Capuchin Raniero Cantalamessa put it), we “seek to encounter the living and active
person of Christ” (OFS Rule, Article 5). If the process of discernment suggests that
the Franciscan way is for you we will then invite you to make a full profession into the
order. A moment of special Franciscan joy! Then the joyful journey, the merry dance
to God, will continue, as a professed member, along with your Franciscan brothers
and sisters in the OFS, the Friars Minor and the Poor Clares, for life. Together, as
Franciscans we seek to “rebuild the church”, as Francis was called to do in 1205,
when, in the church of San Damiano, just outside of Assisi, he heard the invitation of
Jesus: “Francis, go rebuild my Church, which you see is falling into ruins.” Later, in
February 1208, on the Feast of St Matthias, while listening attentively to the gospel
from Matthew 10, Francis was given a fuller insight into this mission, and he
exclaimed “This is what I want, this is what I long for with all my heart.”
Members of the OFS go joyfully, with all their heart, “From Gospel to Life and from
Life to Gospel”, they have a rich prayer life, a special care for others and for creation,
as they seek to become faithful disciples of Christ following the example of Francis.
Members continually seek to develop a deeper understanding of the Franciscan
tradition, of the Church, and of their mission within it. Yet they live as other people in
their local communities, in their own homes, they marry and raise families, they work.
But there is something different about them. They have begun to have an idea of
what it means to live in God’s world in God’s time, they have begun to understand a
little of what Francis meant when, close to his death, he said to his brothers “Let us
begin again, brothers. For up till now we have done little or nothing.”
What is Profession?
Profession is the solemn rite during which a person makes a permanent commitment
to follow the Rule of the OFS. Profession is made during Holy Mass, following the
agreed OFS ritual. Members of the local fraternity are involved in the profession, and
a friar presides, representing the close links between the OFS, the other Franciscan
orders and the wider Church. For this reason a candidate for profession needs to be
in full communion with the Catholic Church. Profession is a very important event not
only for the individual, but also for other fraternity members, for the Order, and for
the Church – strengthening the order in its mission to rebuild the Church. Profession
is one of life’s most profound and joyous experiences. Some are blessed enough to
receive this great gift while they are young, others when they are older. For all it is a
Formation materials [link] will become available on this website soon. If you do not
find what you are seeking please return to the site soon, or contact us at
firstname.lastname@example.org, or enquire at your local fraternity.