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Secular Franciscan Q & A

Adapted from an article posted on the Our Lady of Indiana Regional Fraternity website.

What is a Secular Franciscan?

Secular Franciscans are members of the third order founded by St. Francis of Assisi. Originally we were known as the Brothers and Sisters of Penance. Today, we are called Secular Franciscans.

Do you have to be single or celibate to join the Secular Franciscan Order?

NO! This order, approved and recognized by Rome, is composed of and suitable for any Roman Catholics not bound by religious vows. If you are married, single, young or old, laity or clergy and not bound by religious vows and want to follow Christ as Francis of Assisi did, please contact us.

Is the Secular Franciscan Order really a true order?

Rome has repeatedly stated that the Secular Franciscan Order is a true order. Like all orders we have a rule which is approved by Rome. We also have a novitiate, a formal profession, and a monthly meeting which fulfills the basic requirement of our Rule.

Why are you called Secular Franciscans?

The term Secular indicates that we live in the world and although we make a public profession we are not bound by public vows as are members of religious orders living in community. It also distinguishes the Third Order Secular from the Third Order Regular.

What do Secular Franciscan do?

Did you notice the words Living Gospel to Life and Life to Gospel above? This is what we do. For most of us, it would be more accurate to say it is what we strive to do. Gospel to Life means we are to take the teachings of Jesus Christ and apply them to our every day situations. Not only wondering, what would Jesus do, but demonstrating to our neighbor what Jesus did. This means bringing peace to people and drawing them to God by living the Gospel message. We must be ready to forgive, to comfort and most of all to love. This is only accomplished by dying to ourselves. Life to Gospel means we strive to conform our life to Jesus’ life. We are to turn the other cheek, walk the extra mile, suffer as He suffered, pray as He prayed, forgive as He forgave, love as He loved. To the Secular Franciscan these words are not only a motto or a beautiful ideal. The words signify our mission, our way of life, our vocation. It is supposed to be the mission and way of life for all who call themselves Christians. It isn’t easy or accomplished quickly. It is a life long work. That’s the purpose of our on going formation program.

Are there any well known or famous Secular Franciscans?

Yes there are many notable people who are and have been members of the Secular Franciscan Order. The list includes members of the clergy, royalty, members of science, authors, artists, and those of us just interested in serving the Lord.