Secular Franciscans

Saint FrancisSeek the Gospel Life

Francis of Assisi is known as Everybody’s Saint. In fact, many men and women love him so much that they make a lifetime commitment to follow his way of life. Is God calling you to follow Francis?

Questions a prospective member might ask…

What’s the main difference between a practicing Catholic and a Secular Franciscan?
The difference is that in addition to following all the guidelines and fulfilling the obligations of the Church, we make a permanent commitment to live a life of penance, sacrifice and service to God and others as we try to spread the Gospel in the way of Saint Francis of Assisi.

What are some of the qualifications that a person must have to become a Franciscan?
You must be a practicing Catholic in full agreement with all the teachings of the Church, Pro-life and other laws and not belong to any Religious or other Third Order. You must have a joyful, peaceful disposition with the desire to help and serve others. .

Do I have to attend a lot of meetings? I’m already bogged down with too many.
We have Fraternity meetings once a month. These meetings must have top priority over all your other meetings. This is our special place and time for sharing the spirit of St. Francis with our Franciscan brothers and sisters.

What about dues? How much is it a month?
Members are expected to give to a Common Fund which supports the fraternity and their charities. They are also expected to give to a Regional Fund which supports the Secular Franciscan Order in the Region and Nationally. That amount now is $40.00 a year.
Those who cannot pay into the Common and Regional funds as outlined, due to financial hardship, are not required to do so. They will only be asked to contribute according to their means. No one is turned away from the Secular Franciscan Order because of financial difficulty. All are expected to willingly do penance and make sacrifices to give proof of their love for God. The money they give should represent the sacrifices they make for God during the year.

Is the Secular Franciscan Order part of any other Franciscan organization?
We are united in a worldwide Franciscan Order founded by Saint Francis of Assisi over 750 years ago. Our Franciscan family consists of Priests, Religious Brothers and Sisters and lay Franciscans…which we Seculars are. There are, worldwide, about one and a half million lay Franciscans. Here in the USA we have over 25,000 members.

If you’re united into such a worldwide Order, what means are used to guide you?
The Rule, Constitutions and particular Statutes are the guidelines for all of us. It unites us to work as one family for the same spiritual goals and lead us away from the materialistic way of life. We are committed by our vocation to center our life on Christ and to build the Kingdom of God in temporal situations and activities. We live our membership in the Church and in society as an inseparable reality. We allow God to be in charge of our life.

What do you do at your meetings?
We begin with Mass — Socialize — Say our Franciscan Office, usually the “Liturgy of the Hours” — Discuss “On- Going-Formation” in which we discuss some aspect of Francis’ life and apply it to our own way of living in the world — Share Scripture, ideas and apostolates — And we have a short business meeting.

Are there any set prayers that must be said everyday?
Members are required to say a daily office; usually morning and evening prayer of the “Liturgy of the Hours” or the Office of the 12 Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory be. *Very few would be too busy to say this Office of 12 Our Fathers.

Would I wear any kind of a habit or distinctive sign to identify me as a Secular Franciscan?
You wouldn’t wear any habit as the members did in the 1200s and for many years afterward. To show that you’re a member, you would now wear a “Tau Cross” or a pin, ring, medal, etc. that displays the “Tau Cross.”

What kind of works do you do? And is everyone obligated to do them all?
There are no obligatory works; but, we do have works that we call “apostolates” — these are works that everyone can do. Each Secular Franciscan fraternity tries to fill the needs in their own area and parish. We have individual personal apostolates as well as those where many of the members work together. For example, we work as volunteers in soup kitchens, food and clothing collection centers, hospitals, nursing homes, or act as Eucharistic Ministers, etc. We try to give dignity and courtesy in the face of neglect and degradation. You may choose to work on whatever apostolates that would suit your ability and time.

What kind of spiritual activities do you have?
We have Retreats, Days of Recollection, Holy Hours, Rosary and other spiritual activities in conjunction with our Region brothers and sisters.

If you want to know more about the Franciscans or find a fraternity contact the editor on our home page.