Emanuela De Nunzio
Minister General, Secular Franciscan Order
The Secular Franciscan Order
From the earliest days of Francis of Assisi’s ministry, lay people who longed to live a deeper life of Faith were drawn to his message of conversion and penance.
Francis formed these lay penitents into the Brothers and Sisters of Penance, later called the Third Order of St. Francis. From this Order the T.O.R. emerged in the 15th century. The lay Order continued as the Third Order of St. Francis, Secular. In 1978, its name was changed to the Secular Franciscan Order (S. F 0.)
Secular Franciscans, as their name implies, live ordinary lives in the world rather than in religious communities. They may be single or married, women or men, in all walks of life.
They live the Gospel as consecrated laity in a Franciscan manner according to their own Rule which they profess after a period of initial formation. Profession as a Secular Franciscan is a lifelong commitment. Formation and profession of the Secular Franciscan takes place within a local community called a fraternity. Life in fraternity is an essential aspect of the Secular Franciscan vocation. The fraternity is a community of love, the privileged place for the sisters and brothers to develop their sense of Church and the Franciscan call.
Although a self-governing Order, each Secular Franciscan fraternity receives guidance in spiritual matters from a spiritual assistant, usually a friar of one of the other Franciscan Orders. These relationships are particularly strong between Secular Franciscans and the friars with whom they share common roots in the Franciscan penitential tradition.
The Secular Franciscan Order (Ordo Franciscanus Saecularis, (OFS); also called the Third Order Secular) is a community of Catholic men and women in the world who seek to pattern their lives after Jesus in the spirit of Francis of Assisi. Secular Franciscans are tertiaries, or members of the Third Order of Saint Francis founded by Francis of Assisi 800 years ago.
Originally known as the Brothers and Sisters of Penance, the Order is open to any Catholic not bound by religious vows to another religious order and is made up of both the laity (men and women non-clergy) and secular clergy (deacons, priests, and bishops).
Although Secular Franciscans make a public profession and are consecrated, they are not bound by public vows as are religious living in community. The Third Order Regular (TOR), which grew out of the Third Order Secular, do make religious vows and live in community.
Power Point: SFO Who We Are
Secular Franciscans at time of Profession make a Promise to Live the Gospel Life
(Click on MP3 below to hear explanation of our Promises)
What is Profession?
In Profession a covenant is established with the Brothers and Sisters, which can never be disregarded. The sacred bond of Profession, through which a perpetual commitment is established with God, (cfr. Rule 2; Const 42,2), has a number of fraternal sides to it which must be understood and lived precisely in the light of that “sworn pact” one has made with God.
Professing a form of evangelical life, living their consecration to God in the world and for the world, and “transmitting into world affairs the genuine spirit of the gospel” (Ritual, III. 46), Secular Franciscans bear witness that the sanctification of the world necessarily occurs through the sanctification of people, because this world cannot be transformed without the spirit of the beatitudes (cfr. LG 31). Br. Felice Cangelosi OFM Cap
Not a Catholic?
To become a Secular Franciscan, you must be an actively practicing Catholic (of any of the rites in union with Rome). If you are Anglican/Episcopalian, please visit the Third Order Society of St. Francis. If you are a member of another Christian denomination or simply prefer an ecumenical Franciscan community, please visit the Order of Ecumenical Franciscans.