WHAT IS THE SECULAR FRANCISCAN ORDER?
“You are an Order: a lay Order, but truly an Order” as Pope John Paul II said, quoting Pope Pius XII.
The Secular Franciscan Order is an Order in the Roman Catholic Church for lay people (married or single) and diocesan clergy who are seeking to live a more committed Christian life and who take their inspiration from the unique life of St Francis of Assisi and from the work of various Franciscans. There are other Franciscan orders for men and women who adopt community life taking the vows of their particular religious order. Members of the OFS live as other people in their local communities, in their own homes, they marry and raise families, they work. They are immersed in their environment just as their neighbours. They have a strong Franciscan spiritual life and often become active members of their parish. Many are involved in other specific ministries. Members who are less able to be active support the other members with their prayers.
Members observe a Rule, Constitutions and National Statutes. The Rule is approved by the Holy See. Pope John Paul II referred to our rule as an “authentic treasure”.
Spiritual assistance is provided by Franciscan religious. Franciscan Orders of Friars have a responsibility of service to the OFS.
Everyone belongs to a local fraternity. As at every level, the professed [link to Join Us] members of the fraternity hold elections every three years to elect the local council which normally has a Minister, Vice Minister, Secretary, Treasurer and Formation Minister. The council manages and animates the fraternity – making a programme for the monthly meetings and managing fraternity business and activities.
Each local fraternity is represented at the regional council which meets occasionally during the year. The regional council serves the local fraternities within that region and makes sure information from the national fraternity is disseminated. Regions plan a variety of events open to all members. Each region has an elected regional executive and a regional council that carries out whatever has been planned and serving any needs of members that cannot be served at the local fraternity.
The national fraternity functions in the same way, serving the nine regional fraternities. The national executive, also elected every three years, disseminates news and information from the International Council, organises national events, and carries out the programme agreed at the national council.
The council is the place where any questions or issues will be aired and discussed. It is always the aim to provide answers or resolve matters at the level in which they arise – local, regional or national but if something cannot be dealt with locally the council will seek help from the regional or national fraternity.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
“And now, at the dawn of the new millennium, does the Franciscan adventure still have meaning?
Does it still have any chance of success?
Never has true fraternity been so longed for and at the same time so little lived. Never has the Franciscan charism been more needed than today in order to offer the total Christ to a disintegrating world which fears a brotherhood of solidarity among all human beings without exclusion.”
(Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, from a homily in the St John Lateran Basilica, on the occasion of the Great Jubilee of the Franciscans, 9th April 2000).