Who are the Secular Franciscans?
The Secular Franciscan Order (Latin: Ordo Franciscanus Saecularis, postnominal abbreviation O.F.S.; 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.
Because the Order belongs to the spiritual family of the Franciscans, the Holy See has entrusted its pastoral care and spiritual assistance to the Franciscan First Order (Order of Friars Minor [the coat of arms of the order is shown above], Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, and Order of Friars Minor Conventual) and Franciscan Third Order Regular (TOR), which belong to the same spiritual family.
(Source & links to more information: Wikipedia; March 27, 2017: [Online] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secular_Franciscan_Order)
Who are the Secular Franciscans? (Another perspective)
Some 800 years ago, society in medieval Italy was facing many of the same challenges that we face today. Violence, hatred, wars, and brutality were rampant. People were frivolous and pleasure seeking, and even the church was plagued by corruption. Onto this stage stepped Francesco Bernadone, spoiled son of a wealthy merchant, and dreamer of a life of chivalry.
But God called to him, persistently and asked him to “repair my church”. Although Francesco originally thought he was to repair the physical building of the church, he came to realize that it was the soul of the church that God was calling on him to minister to.
Leaving his home, family, social position and wealth, he dedicated his life to following Christ in simplicity and poverty. He became the St. Francis of Assisi whom we know today. His love and charisma were so contagious that soon others were attracted to the life that he was leading, and joined him in his search for God. They became the original Order of Friars Minor, whom we know of today as Franciscans.
St. Clare followed him, and there began the women’s religious order of the Poor Clares.
At the same time, many people who were not able to leave family and obligations felt pulled to live a simpler and more meaningful life. St. Francis called them to become what is today the Secular Franciscan Order.
The Secular Franciscan Order is NOT a CLUB OR SOCIETY, but an Order within the Church, in which the members, men and women, do not abandon the world, family of friends, but follow gospel values in their everyday lives in the work, with families, spouses, children, jobs and obligations. Their desire is to follow more closely the teachings of Jesus Christ, to live a life of simplicity and service, and detach themselves from the importance of material wealth. In short, they want their lives to “make a difference”.
(Source & links to more information: St. Anthony Fraternity, SFO; March 27, 2017: [Online] http://www.angelfire.com/planet/stanthony/who_we_are.htm)
How is are Secular Franciscans in the U.S.A. organized?
Click below for high-res version of a map showing all regions.(Source: The National Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order – USA; March 27, 2017; copyright@1999-2001, NAFRA: [Online] https://www.nafra-sfo.org/images/new_map.gif)
Each Region is organized into Fraternities
Click below for a map with links to the websites of all regions with information about the fraternities in each.(Source: The National Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order – USA; March 27, 2017: [Online] http://www.nafra-sfo.org/naframap.html)
Brothers and Sisters of St. Francis Region & Fraternities
“OFS” or “SFO”?
OFS After Our Names
…..Since 2011 all Secular Franciscans have used OFS as the abbreviation after our names.
…..At the General Chapter of the Secular Franciscan Order held in Sao Paulo, Brail, in 2011, the International Presidency decided that all Secular Franciscans, no matter where the live or what language they speak, will use OFS after their names. This is because, as one worldwide Order, we are to have one acronym.
…..OFS refers to our Order’s official Latin name, not the language into which that name is translated.
…..Below you can see the decree announcing this decistion. It notes that we have four official languages. Here is the name of our Order translated into those official languages:
……….Italian: Ordine Francescano Secolare
……….English: Secular Franciscan Order
……….French: Orden Franciscain Seculier
……….Spanish: Orden Franciscana Seglar
…..We received word of this change in acronyms when Deacon Tom Bell, OFS, at that time our national minister, sent the notification on Jan. 19, 2012. He asked to note that in the doument we are still referred to as the Secular Franciscan Order.
…..Tom added that “When we use English, we are still the Secular Franciscan Order, not the Order of Franciscan Seculars, or whatever.”
ORDO FRANCISCANUS SAECULARIS Allegato n.9
XIII. GENERAL CHAPTER
Sao Paulo, 2011, October 22-29
THE OFFICIAL NAME OF THE ORDER
THE USE AND THE TRANSLATION OF THE NAME OF THE ORDER
1. The official name of the Order is Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis.
2. Translations of the name of the Order
…..2.1. The translation of the name of the Order is already made in the four official languages, and these are the ones to be used in these languages, namely in Italian, in English, in Spanish and in French.
…..2.2. The name can be translated into local languages only when the literal translation from Latin is easily understandable even by the civil society and does not change its meaning or substance.
…..2.3. When the translation into the national language distorts the meaning of the name, or is linguistically impossible to transfer the genuine meaning, Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis must always be used, which can be followed by expressions to clarify and make more understandable the nature of the Secular Franciscan Order to everyone in the local language.
3. The acronym
…..The acronym which refers to the name Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis is OFS and is always to be used regardless of the language. For example, when Secular Franciscans use the acronym after their name, they must use “OFS”.
Encarnación del Pozo, OFS