THE FRANCISCAN ORDER
Millions of people have been attracted to the Franciscan Spirituality through the life and example of St. Francis of Assisi. Many have responded radically by giving away all that they have in order to follow the Gospel in poverty, chastity and obedience. This is the First Order of St. Francis or the Order of Friars Minor.
A young and beautiful girl, Clare of Assisi, came to realize the truth of the Gospel way of life through the inspiration and witness of St. Francis. Her life was a life of enclosure, poverty, penance and prayer in response to the call of the Holy Spirit. It wasn't long before many women followed her example and joined her. This is the Second Order of St. Francis or the Order of Poor Clares.
Other people continued to be inspired to follow the Gospel and were drawn by the simplicity of the Franciscan charism. They were called to live out the Franciscan vocation as married or single people or as diocesan clergy, all sharing in their desire to live the gospel life in the world. These Catholic Christian individuals comprise the Secular Franciscan Order, formerly known as the Third Order of St. Francis. There are also religious members of the Third Order called Third Order Regulars.
SECULAR FRANCISCANS TODAY
Today, the Secular Franciscans number several hundred thousand worldwide with more than 30,000 in the United States. We believe we have been called by the Spirit of God to live the gospel as St. Francis did, going from the gospel to life and back again. We are not called to leave the world but to transform it. We remain in our families, jobs and life situations while maintaining and deepening our friendships. We are ordinary people constantly seeking practical ways to live the gospel of Jesus Christ and helping others to do the same. There is no fanfare, no notoriety in our quest. We move quietly forward in the company of others whom we regard in a special way as brothers and sisters.
Basically, this means gathering as community to pray and build fraternal relationships on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. In this setting we strive to become one in heart and mind with Jesus and in Jesus.
We are sisters and brothers in fraternity. This becomes the privileged place for developing our sense of Church, our Franciscan vocation and our ministry. We seek to encounter the living and active person of Christ in our brothers and sisters, in Sacred Scripture, in the Church and in Liturgical Prayer, especially the Eucharist.
We have a special concern for the works of peace and reconciliation. We seek to live simple, placing more value on persons than on possessions and sharing what we have with others. We strive to identify ourselves with the poor and the marginalized, seeing in them the face of Christ.
We seek to respond to the gospel through the witness of being in the forefront of promoting justice; through valuing work as both gift and as sharing in creation, redemption and service to the human family; through making family life a sign of peace, fidelity and respect for human life; through a respect for all creatures both animate and inaimate which ultimately reveals the love of God for us.
St. Padre Pio Fraternity is a Secular Franciscan fraternity residing in Georgetown, TX and meeting at St. Helen Catholic Church.
For more information on the Order contact us at email@example.com.