IS GOD CALLING YOU TO A VOCATION IN
THE SECULAR FRANCISCAN ORDER?
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 discerned.
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 week.
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 discussed.
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 but no more than thirty-six months. It 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.
Participation in the meetings of the local fraternity is an indispensable presupposition for initiation into community prayer and into fraternity life. General Constitutions SFO, 40, 3.
Much is required. Our experience has been that The Little Poor Man of Assisi asks his Little Plants to perform many tasks for Our Lord.
If I find the humble God, the simple God, the servant God, the God who has emptied himself, and if I find him in the Son and if in finding him, I make him not only an object of intellectual reflection but I manage somehow to make Him the foundation of my life and practice, as Francis did, then, this is Franciscan vocation.
The Result of an Authentic Vocation
FOREWORD TO VOCATION, CHARISM AND MISSION OF SECULAR FRANCISCANS (Section 10 of the NAFRA FUN Manual)
Too often, especially in the past, candidates were admitted into the Order simply “because they were good and pious people” or because they held in great esteem some holy friar or simply because they liked Saint Francis.
Often, until today, people ask to enter the Order because they feel lonely or because they need to feel part of a group or simply out of devotion.
Obviously this is not enough. Quite the opposite …
Entering into a “form of life” such as the Franciscan form of life is not just one of the many “optional” decisions we make in our lives. It is the result of a very precise call of God to become Franciscan with a very precise purpose.
Becoming Secular Franciscan is, must be, the result of an authentic vocation.
Along with it comes a precise mission, in communion with the entire Franciscan Family, sustained by the very charism of Saint Francis, which enables us to accomplish the mission in our secular state.
It is absolutely necessary to rediscover and to live to its full extent the vocational dimension of our being members of the Secular Franciscan Order.
It is no longer acceptable to become Secular Franciscan out of devotion or without a true and authentic vocation. In the absence of a real vocation there are many ways to share in Saint Francis’ spirituality and in our own secular Franciscan spirituality, without entering the Order.
~ Benedetto Lino, OFS, Coordinator, Formation Commission, International Presidency, Rome 2008
Is God Calling You to A Franciscan Vocation in the SFO?
During our monthly Franciscan meeting, we pray, study, fellowship and address the business of the community. Perhaps God is calling you to a vocation in the Secular Franciscan Order. For more information, please contact our Formation Director.
Prayer for Franciscan Vocation
Heavenly Father, in the spirit of burning simplicity of your servant ,
Francis, we journey to You ever mindful of the purity of the Gospel message
of our redeemer, Jesus Christ.
Help us, through the powerful intersession of our Mother, Our Lady Queen of
Peace, to be a radical witness of your Perfect Love.
Let the gentle breeze of your Holy Spirit, united with her in the great
mystery of the Incarnation, lead us to eternal life.
Teach us to abandon ourselves, as she did, to Your Most Perfect and Holy
Will for our lives, always saying, Yes..Here I am Lord.
Join to us, Father, Others of one heart and spirit called to follow the
Franciscan Vocation to rebuild Your Church on earth.
Debra Powell, Formation Director
Our Lady of the Pearl
Others, not living in our area, who are interested in becoming a Secular Franciscan, in the United States, call 1-800-FRANCIS for information or send an e-mail inquiry through our Contage page (click here).