October, 2020, Meditation by Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

St. Katherine Drexel Regional Fraternity 

Regional Spiritual Assistant 

St. Francis of Assisi Friary 

1901 Prior Road 

Wilmington, Delaware 19809 


tel: (302) 798-1454      fax: (302) 798-3360      webiste:  skdsfo      email: pppgusa@gmail.com

October 2020

Dear Sisters and Brothers in St. Francis,

May the Lord grant us His peace.

Among the various celebrations during the month of October, the month dedicated to the most holy Rosary of our Blessed Mother, Right to Life, awareness of the Mission Activity of the Church, just to name a few, is the Feast/Solemnity of our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi.

St. Francis of Assisi has inspired what has become a mosaic of expressions of Franciscanism through the centuries. The Orders he was instrumental in founding and the religious congregations, societies, and groups that have come from his spirit and the influence they have in the lives of people are numerous. We read his documents or those about him in the Sources. Often however we fail to really listen to the words we read and the underlying deeper message therein. Thus, when “push comes to shove” in spiritual and practical matters, confusion or outright opposition seems to ensue.

Among the powerful words of our father “idiota”, as Francis called himself – which meant he was not advanced in the intellectual programs and advancement of his times, but he surely was an educated person – are the words: “obedience” and “Catholic”, and “Catholic” is with a capital “C”.  It is regarding these two words,  that you are asked to please re-read a letter approved by the Regional Council of the time (2010) regarding matters within the Order and Region which required a re-reading and consideration of our free and willing profession as Franciscans in general.

The letter was formulated and signed by the Regional Spiritual Assistants at that time, one of whom, Br. Larry Hilferty TOR, of happy memory, is now in the loving embrace of our Heavenly Father. This could be a wonderful way for all of us to re-consider our acceptance of a vocation to the Franciscan Gospel Life that actually does demand our “obedience” to everything expected of us, not just by our Seraphic Father himself, but also by the “Catholic” Church who approves and promulgates what makes us Franciscans. As St. Francis reminded his spiritual children, we are called to read and live “without gloss” the Gospel Life we accepted.

May 23, 2010 

Re: ‘Let them be Catholic’ 

 Dear Sisters and Brothers in St. Francis, 

The Lord give you His peace! 

There has been something on our minds that we believe must be addressed for the sake of truth and the integrity of our Franciscan Family.  We have hesitated writing this letter because we believe that some will be offended and others, for the sake of friendships, will criticize and maybe even give ultimatums to their Fraternity or Regional councils. 


One of the strong characteristics of the spirit of St. Francis himself, was his undisputed obedience and fidelity to the Roman Catholic Church and its legitimately elected Pontiffs.  St. Francis makes it quite clear, without equivocation, that his followers must be Catholic.

 There are many Christians and non-Christians around the world who have a respect for and even devotion to St. Francis of Assisi, among these specifically are our Anglican and Lutheran sisters and brothers. The life and words of St. Francis of Assisi have touched their lives and encouraged many to follow his Rule of life in a more formal and segregated manner from the lay members of their churches. God undoubtedly blesses them and all who seek the truth and strive to live it. 

 Participation in the Secular Franciscan Order, as envisioned by its Founder our Seraphic Father and confirmed by the Roman Catholic Church and its Pontiff, professes to obey the Church and Holy Father in all things, impacts life in the spirit, flows from centuries of tradition and history, follows  specific organizational requisites, and encounters definite social and psychological consequences. Unless one is a baptized Catholic Christian in full communion with the Church of Rome, one cannot profess faithfulness to one way of life while believing in another form, thus creating inner tension or a spirit of indifference which inevitably will affect the lives and faith expression of others. Consequently, that person cannot be a professed member of the I, II, III Regular, and Secular Orders of the Franciscan Family within the Roman Catholic Church.  Each independent group is an autonomous Order within the Church.  They are not loosely knit social associations, but are bound by canonical legislation (i.e. Church Law) that guides the spirit and life of the group within the parameters of the same Roman Catholic Church.  Therefore, only baptized Catholics in union with Rome can be accepted into profession as Secular Franciscans after the established preparatory period of formation has been fulfilled. 

 These brief, and we hope clear and straightforward remarks, are in response to a number of questions and requests regarding the possibility of permitting those not in union with Rome or non-Christians who admire St. Francis of Assisi to be permitted to be admitted to the Secular Franciscans of the Roman Catholic Church.  The requisites for full and valid admission into any branch of the Franciscan Order do not depend on an arbitrary decision made by one individual or group (e.g. Regional, National, or even International Councils); admission, formation and ultimate formation is a matter of Church Law.  This is also the will of our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi that he conveyed and enforced numerous times in his writings and also in his actions. 

With every best wish for all of you, we pray this letter may dispel some confusion regarding the matter of valid admission to the Order in the Catholic Church.  The integrity of our charism is founded on our fidelity to the Gospel and to the Church into which we are baptized.  Never forget your dignity.  For over eight hundred years we have been a bulwark of the Catholic Faith and Church; to seek only common denominators to make others comfortable, is to destroy the basic roots of the Order and our ministry within the Church and world. 

Peace and Blessings 

Brother Lawrence J. Hilferty, T.O.R.
Fr. Francis A. 
Sariego, OFM Cap.
Regional Spiritual Assistants 

 St. Francis of Assisi was no pushover. He dealt with the friars, sisters, and all who sought his assistance in living the Gospel Life he sought in response to God’s call. He got terribly annoyed when the friars, while he was in the Holy Land, sought to “mitigate” the life by even changing what Francis knew was what he had been given by God to live. He demanded that the words of Scripture and the Rule not be “glossed” according to personal desires and whims. It is God who must be proposed and not the egos of the individual friars.

We are living in challenging times for the Church. The Church is being criticized, ridiculed; the Holy Father is being opposed by the very ones who should be working with him and assisting him. The faithful and even those outside the Church are taking sides and campaigning in one way or another. Nothing really changes. Is has gone through these moments regularly throughout history. We are called to challenge others by our way of life and to be challenged by our personal call to be Franciscans. The uniqueness of our characters, personalities, quirks and what have, you find our unity in the bond of our “yes” to God’s invitation. There is always room for various expressions of ministry within the family. They must, however, be in accord with Church Laws regulating the work of any group acting in the name of the Catholic Church, and the Rule and Constitutions of the religious Orders approved by the Church. Let us pray that we always recognize our unity in pluriformity, and that our pluriformity always be faithful to what makes us Catholic Christians and committed Franciscans.

As Mary journeyed Her life with that of Jesus, may the mysteries of the Rosary we celebrate this month and hopefully pray everyday. May the Rosary be a daily reminder of our lives immersed in the reality of Jesus’ ever with us through all the moments of our lives, and of Mary’s intimate presence encouraging us, Her children whom she accepted as her own at the foot of the Cross. It is in the mystery of the Incarnation that we can see that we can understand true faithful and integrity in the word we gave as our pledge, as we reflect upon the Word Who gave the pledge of His faithfulness to the Father’s Will even to the Cross.

God bless all of you.  May our Blessed Mother intercede for you.  May our Seraphic Father be a bright presence in our lives encouraging all of us to the faithful fulfillment of our “yes” to the Gospel Life as Franciscans.

Peace and Blessings

Fr. Francis A. Sariego, OFM Cap

Regional Spiritual Assistant

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