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 was Zelie Martin (mother of St Thérèse of Lisieux, The Little Flower), who was 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 spirituality.
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. Formation is 2 years.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 to God, will continue, as a professed member, along with your Franciscan brothers and sisters in the OFS, 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 great grace.
Formation materials are already available on this website under FORMATION.