When people today hear of ‘Franciscans’, they usually think of friars, priests and nuns. It is unlikely they think of people working on a construction site, teachers in schools, doctors, mums and dads with children.
In fact, the largest portion of the Franciscan Order is made up by the laity. The Church recognises that the spirituality of the saints is not just reserved for those who give up the ‘world’ and join monasteries as consecrated religious. The Church invites all people of faith to celebrate in the spirit of the saints and to live the charism of these remarkable people in their family lives, the workplace, and in all of secular society.
For 800 years the Church has opened the door to everyday lay Catholics, allowing them to join an official Order of the Church and become full members of the Franciscan family. It is known as the “Third Order”, or “Secular Franciscan Order.”
Here they live the charism of St Francis of Assisi in their everyday lives, without giving up marriage, family life, careers and involvement in the Society in which we live.
The Church recognises each one of these lay members as equally Franciscan as the first order friars and second order nuns.
Secular Franciscans today strive to live a life centred on Christ. By following in the footsteps of St Francis they seek to live the gospel life in the spirit of simplicity, peace, love and respect for God’s creation, humility, joy and fraternity.
The Secular Franciscan Order was founded by St Francis himself, and today it is the largest Order in the Catholic Church, with around 400,000 members world-wide. It is an order precisely for those who are married, single, those with professional careers, students, the retired, young and old, from eighteen years right up until 100 and beyond. For more information please visit www.ofsaustralia.org.au or email Fr John Nguyen OFMCap. at email@example.com.
Getting to know the Secular Franciscans may be a way to determine if you have a Franciscan vocation.