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IS GOD CALLING YOU TO A VOCATION IN
This page describes what
the Secular Franciscan Order is NOT and what it is, requirements for admission,
characteristics of a good Franciscan, and the three stages of
formation. Most important is that the call to make this life-time
commitment is from God, and God alone, and that this call must be
First of all, the Secular Franciscan
Order is not just another church group, club or "do good" social
organization where one may participate for a while and then drop out. It
is not a support group for the lonely or troubled or where one may come to
resolve issues best taken up with a professionally, trained counselor. It is one of the
Orders in the Church, and profession is a life-time commitment.
All in the Church are called to holiness
and to be a saint. The Secular Franciscan Order is for those Catholics,
not in a religious order, who are called by the Holy Spirit to fulfill the goal of holiness by embracing
the Franciscan charism. It is for those Catholics who want to serve God and the Church by following in the
footsteps of Saint Francis of Assisi. The call is a gift from God and must be
discerned by the person and by the Order.
To be admitted into the Order, one must
be a faithful, committed Roman Catholic, in good standing with the Church and
absolutely loyal to the Roman Catholic Church, the Holy Father and the
Magisterium. One must be a person of strong faith, attending Mass on
Sundays, Holy Days of Obligation and perhaps during the
One must have a strong faith in Jesus
and a desire to follow him. Our Rule states that the "rule and life of the
Secular Franciscans is this: to observe the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ
by following the example of Saint Francis of Assisi, who made Christ the
inspiration and the center of his life with God and people.
The SFO is to bring hope to the world;
therefore, people who lack hope, are gloomy and pessimistic would not make
good Franciscans. Perfect people would not make good candidates as we
are a group of imperfect, sinful people, trying to do better. Our
Franciscan life is not lived in isolation but in community; therefore, since
we are not perfect, communication skills in relating to others is needed along
with much forgiveness, patience and understanding.
Much is required, including work in
ministries. Our experience has been that The Little Poor Man of Assisi
asks his Little Plants to perform many tasks for Our Lord.
Dream of Innocent III
of Francis Holding Up the Church
The process of becoming a professed Secular Franciscan is a
journey that involves three separate stages and culminates in a lifelong
commitment to live the gospel following the example of St. Francis of Assisi.
This formation process unfolds in regularly scheduled formation sessions during
which the home study material is thoroughly discussed.
The first stage, Orientation, provides time for dialogue and
developing relationships in fraternity. During Orientation you will be
introduced to the lives of St. Francis and St. Clare and share in Franciscan
prayer life. You will be given general information about the Secular Franciscan
Order. Orientation is a time to discern if the Spirit is calling you to a
Secular Franciscan vocation. The period of Orientation is a minimum of three
The second stage, Inquiry, is the first formal period of
initiation. It is a time of in-depth study of the lives of St. Francis and St.
Clare. During Inquiry you will learn about the Franciscan charism and Franciscan
history. You will deepen your understanding of what it means to be secular and
Franciscan, and you will continue to discern if the Spirit is calling you to the
Secular Franciscan way of life. The period of Inquiry is a minimum of six
months. If a vocation is discerned, the Inquirer is received into the Order.
The third stage, Candidacy, is the final formal period of
initiation. It is a time of preparing for permanent commitment by immersion into
fraternity life. Central to this stage of formation is Article 4 of The
Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order which states, “The rule and life of the
Secular Franciscan is this: to observe the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by
following Saint Francis of Assisi, who made Christ the inspiration and the
center of his life with God and people.” The period of Candidacy is a
minimum of eighteen months and culminates in permanent commitment to the gospel
OR COMMITMENT TO THE GOSPEL LIFE (promises and commitments made
at the time of profession)
_________________, by the grace of God,
renew my baptismal promises
and consecrate myself to the service of his Kingdom.
Therefore, in my secular state
I promise to live
all the days of my life
the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ
in the Secular Franciscan Order
by observing its rule of life.
May the grace of the Holy Spirit,
the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary
and our holy father St. Francis,
and the fraternal bonds of community
always be my help
so that I may reach the goal
of perfect Christian love.
I am writing my final article as Co-Chair of the National Formation
Commission in the form of a letter rather than as a formation piece. Why?
Because, while in Rome, presenting at the International Formation Workshop
last March, I had an awakening that still fills me with wonder. The instrument
of this awakening was a humble and holy friar named Fr. Felize Cangelosi. He
simply said that the seal of the Holy Spirit received in baptism and
confirmation and intensified by our “Yes” to a lifelong commitment as
Secular Franciscans makes our Christian and Franciscan relationships stronger
During our days together,
presenters and participants experienced fraternal life that was so loving and
inclusive that we knew it was gift and grace and certainly more important than
position, nationality, or any other earthly distinctions. We were immersed in an
atmosphere of unconditional love that left the fragrance and taste of God ever
My prayer for you is that, in
your fraternities, you experience, or will experience, the love for each other
we had in Rome. If it is not present, you must be that channel. How do we do
(1) By connecting with God, the
source of all love, through prayer, both private and communal, and exhibiting a
sense of internal honor and moral integrity in our fraternal life.
(2) By responding to the needs of
the poor in our fraternities - not only the financially poor, but those living
with difficult life situations. Essentially, it is living the Beatitudes in
(3) By developing the virtue and
grace of gratitude. Grateful people are receptive, generous, forgiving and give
to others because they know how much God has given to them.
(4) By answering God’s call to
grow into his likeness, not simply as individuals, but as fraternities. How we
relate to each other is as important as how we relate to God. Jesus said, love
God and love your neighbor. Apparently, the two cannot be separated.
I do believe that if Secular
Franciscans decide to live and love this way, we will taste the Goodness of God
in this life. Heaven will begin right now! Please pray for me, and know that you
will always be in my prayers.
Memory of Fr. Emmeran Frank, OFM,
November 29, 1921 – June 21, 1997
Teach me O my Lord, to be sweet and gentle in
all the events of my life – in disappointments and in the thoughtlessness of
others – in the insincerity of those I trusted and the unfaithfulness of those
on whom I relied.Let me put myself
aside; think of the happiness of others; hide my little pains and heartaches so
that I may be the only one to suffer by the crosses that come across my path.That they may mellow me, not harden or embitter me.As I go my rounds from one distraction to another let me whisper from
time to time a word of love to Thee.May
my life be lived full of power for good and strong in its purpose of sanctity.Amen.