Is God Calling You to the
Secular Franciscan Order?
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.
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
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.
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 life.
"Temporary Profession" is an option, too.
After profession of the Rule and permanent commitment to the
gospel way of life, the newly professed member joins the rest of
the fraternity in ongoing formation.
SFO for you? If you would like more information about the
Secular Franciscan Order, in USA, please call 1-800-FRANCIS.
(toll-free). Elsewhere, see here.
*In English speaking countries, the order is known
as "Secular Franciscan Order" (SFO); this is based on the
official name of the order, in Latin: Ordo Franciscanus
Prayer for Priests
Jesus, Eternal Priest, keep all Your priests
within the shelter of Your Sacred Heart
where none may harm them. Keep unstained
their anointed hands which daily touch Your
Sacred Body. Keep unsullied their lips
purpled with Your Precious Blood. Keep pure
and unearthly their hearts sealed with the
sublime marks of Your glorious priesthood.
Let Your holy love surround them and shield
them from the world's contagion. Bless their
labors and abundant fruit, and may the souls
to whom they ministered here below be their
joy and consolation, and in Heaven their
beautiful and everlasting crown. Amen.
May Mary and Jesus protect us always.
More on Vocations
FRANCIS OF ASSISI
Our Seraphic Father, as he is known by
Franciscans around the world, lived from c.1181 to 1226. Born in
Assisi s a prosperous merchant, and Francis planned to follois
trade, although he also had dreams of becoming a knight. In 1201
he took part in an attack on Perugia, was taken hostage, and
remained a captive there for a year. As a result of his
captivity and a severe illness his mind began to turn to
religion, but around 1205 he enlisted in another military
expedition, to Apulia. In 206, he had a vision in which Christ
called him to repair His Church. Francis interpreted this as a
command to repair the church of San Damiano, near Assisi. His
father, angry and embarrassed by Francis' behavior, imprisoned
him and brought him before the bishop as disobedient. Francis
abandoned all his rights and possessions, including his clothes.
Two years later he felt himself called to preach, and was soon
joined by companions. When they numbered eleven he gave them a
short Rule and received approval from pope Innocent III for the
brotherhood, which Francis called the Friars Minor. The friars
returned to Assisi and settled in huts near the Portiuncula.
They traveled throughout central Italy and beyond, preaching for
people to turn from the world to Christ. In his life and
preaching, Francis emphasized simplicity and poverty, relying on
God's providence rather than worldly goods. The brothers begged
for what they needed to live, and any surplus was given to the
poor. Francis turned his skills as a troubadour to the writing
of prayers and hymns. In 1219 Francis joined the crusaders and
preached to the Sultan of Egypt. The brothers that joined became
more organized and there came a point when the group was too
large to be led by just one man, so Francis wrote a more
detailed Rule, which was further revised by the new leaders of
the Franciscans. He gave up leadership of the Order and went to
the mountains to live in secluded prayer. There he received the
Stigmata, the wounds of Christ. He returned to visit the
Franciscans, and St. Clare and her sisters, and a few of his
followers remained with him. He died at the Portiuncula on
October 3, 1226. Saint Francis of Assisi is one of the most
popular saints, particularly in the Americas. Many people make
pilgrimages to Rome and Assisi.
Saint Francis also founded the Order of
Penitents, as it was called in his time. This was an order for
lay persons, single or married, who wanted to follow him. Over
the years, this burgeoning group of faithful souls became known
as the Third Order of Saint Francis, and is currently known as
the Secular Franciscan Order. Over one million lay Franciscans
belong to the SFO. This Franciscan Family, as one among many
spiritual families raised up by the Holy Spirit in the Church,
unites all members of the People of God — laity, religious,
priests — who recognize that they are called to follow Christ in
the footsteps of Saint Francis of Assisi.
It was Saint Francis's vision that all who
join any of his orders, join by being open to the Holy Spirit.
We, members of the Secular Franciscan Order, an order for lay
people as well as Diocesan clergy, have discerned a vocation to
become Franciscans. We have also learned in a deeper way to love
our brothers and sisters, even the stranger and to pray
unceasingly with a heart free from self-interest.
Divine Mercy Secular Franciscan Fraternity
invites you to come and get to know us by attending our monthly
meetings for a while. Perhaps you will feel drawn to join us. If
you do, be open to the Holy Spirit, and be open to discernment
to determine if it is your vocation to join us. This is a
life-long commitment. Each person asking us to join goes through
six months as an Inquirer. After that time, should the person
still be interested, there is an 18-months Candidacy period,
which must proceed Profession.
Franciscan Order is very large. Organizationally, at the top is
a Minister General, Encarnación Del Pozo, OFS*, of Spain, and
the International Council(CIOFS).
Each national entity (country) then has a National Minister and
the National Fraternity, of the United States, is supported by a
National Council. (NAFRA).
also have Regional Fraternities, each of which covers a larger
geographic area and thus a good number of Fraternities. In
Florida, South Georgia and East Alabama, there is the Five
Franciscan Martyrs Region. We are fortunate to have our Regional
Fraternity participate in our website.