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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.
The Secular Franciscan Order is
one of the Orders in the Church, and profession is a life-time commitment.
It was founded by Saint Francis of Assisi. It is the only Third Order in
the Church founded by the founder of the First and Second Orders and whose
founder wrote its first Rule. (Saint Francis founded the First and Third
Orders, and Saint Francis and Saint Clare founded the Second Order.)
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 process of becoming a
professed Secular Franciscan requires a period of formation that involves
three separate stages. This formation process unfolds in regularly scheduled
formation sessions during which the home study material is thoroughly
The first stage, Orientation, is
a minimum of three months. The second stage, Inquiry, is the first formal
period of initiation. 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 a minimum of eighteen months and culminates in
profession and a permanent commitment to the gospel life. Go to our
Formation Page for
more details on formation.
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
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.