Message from NEC Concerning Scandal in Churches in Pennsylvania

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The Lord give you peace!
The National Executive Council is publishing the following statement regarding the recent scandal in the Churches of Pennsylvania.   It will soon be posted on our website and social media.
This message is addressed to all Secular Franciscans.  Please share it widely.  Thank you!
With you in prayer,
Jan and the NEC
Jan Parker OFS
Minister, Secular Franciscan Order USA
Renewed and Confirmed: Live the Treasure!
Celebrating 40 Years of our OFS Rule

A Message to Secular Franciscans

Regarding the Recent Scandal in the Churches of Pennsylvania

Sisters and Brothers of the Secular Franciscan Order, United States:

The release of the Grand Jury report in Pennsylvania is a cause of sorrow, pain and agonizing self-scrutiny for the Catholic Church in the United States.  We are again face to face with the tragic reality of sinful abuse perpetrated on the most vulnerable of our faith family.  How, we ask, can we trust those shepherds with our lives, our children and our faith?  Can the victims find peace and healing in the Church that betrayed their innocence?  Can we, as professed Secular Franciscans, stand as mere bystanders watching this tragic play unfold before us?  What are we to do?  What can we do?

 It saddens all of us that a small minority of men who made a cmmitment to serve the Church betrayed the promises they made to serve, and used their positions of being an authority figure to aid predatory behavior; truly we have wolves in sheep’s clothing. (Mt 7:15)  If it were only a case of a few parish priests, the trust of Church leaders may more easily be re-established; but when it is demonstrated that our chief shepherds, the bishops, were involved in secrecy, cover ups and pay outs, the trust, respect and moral authority of the Church as an institution suffers great damage.  We must all face the truth and make no excuse for those who are guilty of these crimes against the living stones of the Church, the mystical body of Christ; those who have been unfaithful spouses to the Church as the Bride of Christ!

St John Chrysostom, a fourth century bishop, described pastors as the “salt of the earth”.

(Mt 5:13) He said of pastors, “If others lose their savor, then your ministry will help them regain it.  But if you yourselves suffer that loss, you will drag others down with you.”  Sisters and brothers, we have witnessed many being dragged down by those shepherds who have lost their savor as salt of the earth.

As a Secular Order, we are in a unique position to help those who feel abandoned, threatened and fearful of the clerical hierarchy that betrayed their trust.  We are an order of people in the pew.  As people in the pew we can listen to our broken sisters and brothers.  We can listen without judging, without trying to immediately heal them of their pain. We can listen to them and acknowledge their pain without defending or making excuses for the institution that betrayed them.  We can “with a gentle and courteous spirit accept them all as a gift of the Lord and an image of Christ” (OFS Rule, Art.13). We can make contributions to support the counselors who will help heal the wounds of those suffering souls.

We were founded as the Brothers and Sisters of Penance.  All of us in our individual life, in our fraternities, in our regions and our national fraternity must do penance for this great sin.  Some demons can only be cast out through prayer and fasting. (Mark 9:29) This is our call to action! Our Lord asked St. Francis to rebuild the Church which was falling into ruin.  Are we called to do anything less as followers of Francis?  Francis lived his vocation authentically as a living example of Gospel Life.  We must do the same.  Only by living an authentic Gospel life will our light shine and the Church be rebuilt.

We must also stand with our brothers and sisters who have and are serving the Church as good and faithful servants.  These men and women who are faithful to their call are now called to be suffering servants.  They are guilty by association with the Church institution that has betrayed their trust.  How difficult it will be for them to preach the Gospel as representatives of a Church that has lost its moral authority in the public square and in the pew.  We must stand by those faithful servants and help them continue to look after the well-being of others.

Sisters and Brothers of the Secular Franciscan Order, we stand in support of the victims and in favor of holding those responsible for these crimes accountable for their actions.  We pray for healing, forgiveness, peace, reconciliation and a Church that will be rebuilt and with God’s grace, and the movement of Holy Spirit, one day, will once again be a beacon of light, hope and refuge.  Let us go forth and witness to the light of Christ and rebuild the Church so that it may once again be full of grace and truth.

The National Executive Council of the Secular Franciscan Order USA (OFS-USA)

August 26, 2018

Summer Session in Loretto – July 6 – 9, 2017

“Multiculturalism and Diversity: Who is My Neighbor?”

This Summer Session is open to all who would like to attend. Check out the attached flyer for more information on this great opportunity to spend a few days with Seculars from across the country and participate in this timely topic. Seminar flyer 2017

St. Maximilian Kolbe Relic Tour Begins in U.S.

From an article on the National Catholic Register website:

The major relics of Maximilian Kolbe, who was canonized by St. John Paul II, began an 8-month tour Jan. 15-17 in Ellicott City, Md., at the Shrine of St. Anthony. The tour started with noon Mass at the shrine.

The tour sponsored by the Franciscan Friars Minor Conventual of the Our Lady of the Angels Province will continue until August 14, the date commemorating the 75th anniversary of Kolbe’s martyrdom in the World War II Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz, Poland.

Read more…

Brother Larry to greet Pope Francis!

brother LarryBIG NEWS! Our beloved Brother Larry Hilferty, TOR, Regional Spiritual Assistant to St. Katharine Drexel Region and local Spiritual Assistant to St. Bonaventure Fraternity has been asked to greet the Pope! He wants to give the Pope one of our orange ribbon/Tau cross pins in support of the martyred Middle Eastern Christians. We all just stepped a little closer to our Holy Father and rejoice in the honor bestowed on Brother Larry!


Some really good news!!!!!!!!

I received a letter today from the secretary to His Eminence, Sean Cardinal O’Malley in response to my request that the Cardinal mention the Secular Franciscans when he speaks at the World Meeting of Families next September.

Here is what he said:

The Cardinal holds the Secular Franciscan vocation in high regard and is grateful for your dedication to this important ministry, which enriches the lives of many people.

As we look toward the events being planned for the World Meeting of Families this coming September, we will be happy to determine how the secular vocation can be included in the Cardinal’s participation, to provide recognition for the members and to encourage a greater awareness and increase of this means of living one’s faith.  As you note, this could be particularly helpful for providing young people an effective and fulfilling means for responding to the Lord’s call in their lives.

We are most grateful to Cardinal O’Malley for his kindness in recognizing the value of the Secular vocation.


Torture is a Moral Issue - A message from our national JPIC Chair

Advent greetings of peace, dear Family!

I pray this finds you well and filled with the Lord’s peace in this week of honoring our dear Mother Mary. What I most love about our Blessed Mother is not only her YES to God to bear the Messiah, but also her love of justice. During her visit to her cousin, Elizabeth, she uttered the prayer of her ancestors, the Magnificat. She prayed for justice for those who were considered the lowest, the poorest and the most vulnerable. As Franciscans, this too is our prayer. We must collectively echo the words of our Mother Mary and seek justice and peace for all those who are abused and mistreated.

You have no doubt read or heard the massive yet disturbing report from the Senate Intelligence Committee on Torture. From the National Religious Campaign Against Torture:

“Torture violates the basic dignity of the human person that all religions, in their highest ideals, hold dear. It degrades everyone involved — policy-makers, perpetrators and victims. It contradicts our nation’s most cherished ideals. Any policies that permit torture and inhumane treatment are shocking and morally intolerable.”

I am writing to ask you to join with me and raise a collectively Franciscan voice.

  • Check your daily print or online newspaper for stories on the coverage of the report.
  • Write a letter to the editor. Mention that you are a member of the U.S. Secular Franciscan Order (or your Franciscan Province or Community).
  • Forward me a copy of your letter with the name of publication, city and state.

There are talking points and suggestions on the NRCAT website. I will collect the letters and forward to NRCAT – or you can go on the website and inform them yourself. Just copy me whatever you do. If the link does not work for you, visit

May the God of peace give you his peace as we await the coming of Emmanuel!

Wishing you Advent blessings of peace and all good,

Animate Peace

Peace begins within each of us. It is a process of repeatedly showing mercy to ourselves, forgiving ourselves, befriending ourselves, accepting ourselves, and loving ourselves. As we learn to appreciate ourselves and accept God’s gift of peace, we begin to radiate peace and love to others.” ~ Rev. John Dear

San Damiano Fraternity Chapters of Election Results

In the name of Christ. Amen.

We are pleased to announce that the members of the newly-elected Council of San Damiano Fraternityare:

  • Teresa Carisio, OFS Minister
  • Deacon Tommy Watts, OFS, Vice-Minister
  • Justin Carisio, OFS, Formation Director
  • Edyth Kurzweil, OFS, Secretary
  • Pat Drake, OFS, Treasurer

Please be sure to keep them in your prayers.

Deacon Tommy Watts, OFS; Justin Carisio, OFS; Teresa Carisio, OFS; Pat Drake, OFS; Edyth Kurzwell, OFS; and Sr. Elise Betz, OSF

Deacon Tommy Watts, OFS; Justin Carisio, OFS; Teresa Carisio, OFS; Pat Drake, OFS; Edyth Kurzwell, OFS; and Sr. Elise Betz, OSF

CIOFS Electon Results

Peace to each of your hearts!

Through the kindness of our International Councillor, Mary Stronach, OFS, we have learned the results of the Chapter of Elections for our International Fraternity held in Assisi:

Our new General Minister is Tibor Kauser, OFS, from Hungary.

Our new Vice General Minister is Maria Consuelo De Nunez (Chelito), OFS, from Venezuela.

The remaining Councillors are:

  • Ana Fruk, OFS, from Croatia
  • Ana Maria Raffo Laos, OFS, from Peru
  • Attilio Galimberti, OFS, from Italy
  • Michel Janian, OFS, from Lebanon
  • Diana Silva Noemi, OFS, from Argentina
  • Jenny Harrington, OFS, from South Africa
  • Augustine Young Hak Yoon, OFS, from Korea

Please hold them in prayer as they begin their term of service to each of us.


XIVth General Chapter of the OFS

The Order’s General Chapter is now taking place through Saturday, November 8th.

The General Minister of the OFS (Secular Franciscan Order), Encarnita del Pozo, has officially opened the XIVth General Chapter of the OFS (its sixth elective Chapter), taking place in Assisi, Italy, until November 8.

The 85 voting members of the Chapter will discuss these coming days important aspects of the life of the Secular Franciscan Order and take decisions about its future. They will also elect the new leadership team of the OFS for the next six years.

You can follow the news on the CIOFS website here.

There is also a Twitter account set up where news is also being posted: @GeneralChapterOFS

Please be sure to keep our international brothers and sisters in your prayers during this important gathering.

Update: Consecrated Host that was to be used in Oklahoma black mass returned

(See previous post)

“I am relieved that we have been able to secure the return of the sacred Host, and that we have prevented its desecration as part of a planned satanic ritual,” said Archbishop Paul Coakley of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. “I remain concerned about the dark powers that this satanic worship invites into our community and the spiritual danger that this poses to all who are involved in it, directly or indirectly.”

Details on the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City website.