Whats the 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; Secular Franciscans 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 St. 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 good standing and in full agreement with all the teachings of the Church. You can 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?
Becoming a Secular Franciscan is a serious spiritual vocation and commitment. Fraternity meetings are once a month. These meetings must have top priority over all your other meetings. The meetings are a special time for sharing the Franciscan spirit with our Franciscan brothers and sisters.
Is the Secular Franciscan Order part of another 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 (Secular) Franciscans. Worldwide, there are about one and half million Secular Franciscans.
Are there people in the church that I might know?
Yes, throughout the ages many people were professed Secular Franciscans. Notable Secular Franciscans include: St. Elizabeth of Hungary, St. Elizabeth of Portugal, St. Joan of Arc, St. Thomas More, St. John Vianney (patron saint of priests), Pope St. John XXIII, St. Charles Borromeo, and Blesseds Louis and Zelie Martin (parents of St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower). Other well-known Secular Franciscans include: King Ferdinan and Queen Isabella of Spain, Christopher Columbus, Danta Alighieri, Giotto di Bondone, Michaelangelo Buonarroti, Raphael Sanzio, Franz Liszt, Assunta Carlini Goretti (mother of St. Maria Goretti), Julius and Maria Kolbe (parents of St. Maximilian Kolbe) and Dr. Louis Pasteur.
What doctrine guides your order?
The teachings of the Gospel of the Holy Catholic Church. In addition, written by St. Francis of Assisi, Franciscans are guided by The Rule, The Constitutions and particular Statutes. These guidelines unite 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 lives on Jesus 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 lives.
What do you do at your meetings?
Fraternity meetings are opportunities for our members to gather and grow, kind of like a family Sunday dinner. Each meeting is a little different but contains four basic parts: praying, ongoing formation (instruction in the Franciscan way of life), business, and fellowship. In addition there are classes for non-professed members who are in the initial to candidacy formation process.
Is there a kind of habit or distinctive sign to identify me as a Secular Franciscan?
As a professed member, you would wear the Tau Cross as a pin, ring, pendant, etc. This cross is the habit of the Secular Franciscans as St. Francis of Assisi used it as his own symbol and signed letters with it. Francis loved this cross as it was the one the God gave Ezekiel to minister to people in the Old Testement
“The LORD said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, even through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations which are being committed in its midst.”” Ezekiel 9:4 New American Standard Bible
What kind of works do Secular Franciscans do?
There are no obligatory works; but we do have works that we call “apostolates”. These are activities directed at serving and evangelizing the world. Each Secular Franciscan Fraternity tries to fill the needs in their own parish or community. This can be done individually or as a group. For example, we work as volunteers in feeding the hungry, clothing collections, hospitals, nursing homes, animal shelters. We participate in ministries within our parish as lectors, Eucharistic minsters, music ministry, RCIA/RCIC programs, religous education, and youth ministry. You can choose to work in whatever apostolate that suits your ability and time and that services humanity or creation.
What kind of spiritual activities do Secular Franciscans do?
We participate in Holy Hours, Days of Recollection, retreats, pilgrimages, recitation of the Franciscan Crown Rosary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and other activities. At times these activities are in conjunctions with brothers and sisters from other fraternities as well as the Religious orders.
I am interested. . . what do I do next?
Contact Holy Family Fraternity: Peggy Gregory, Minister at 703-791-4945 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Rita Colleran, Vice-Minister at 703-310-9958 or RLCOLLERAN10@gmail.com. They will gladly speak with you about your interest and let you know when and where the next meeting or event is. You are warmly welcome to visit Holy Family Fraternity meetings.