What is the Secular Franciscan Order?
The Secular Franciscan Order is a branch of the worldwide Franciscan Family. We are either married or single and we work, worship and play in the community where we live. This Roman Catholic Religious Community is a secular movement established by Saint Francis of Assisi over 800 years ago. Internationally we are known as the Ordo Franciscanus Saecularis (OFS). Our purpose is to bring the gospel to life. We look for practical ways to embrace the gospel in every moment our lives.
The OFS is part of the same Franciscan family that includes friars, Poor Clare nuns and other Franciscan religious. Formerly, the OFS was called the Third Order of Saint Francis, since Saint Francis created the order after founding the Order of Friars Minor (OFM) and the Poor Ladies (Poor Clares). In 1978 our name was changed from the Third Order of Saint Francis to the Secular Franciscan Order to better reflect who we are. While we are an established canonical Order in the Catholic Church, whose rule of life is approved by the Pope, we do not make religious vows. Previous commitments, such as marriage and other responsibilities, prevent us from taking such vows or living in religious communities.
Who are we?
Secular Franciscans follow the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the manner of Saint Francis of Assisi. Saint Francis in his wisdom recognized that worldly responsibilities are not a hindrance to a deeper commitment to live the Gospel life and called all who love the Lord to do so. The OFS took root in his lifetime, and queens, kings, noble women and men were among the first members of the Order. Saint Elizabeth of Hungary is the patroness of our Order and Saint Louis IX, King of France is our patron.
Throughout the ages, men and women from all walks of life have joined the Order while living out their worldly calling. Among the more famous ones are Christopher Columbus, Michelangelo, Dante, Louis Pasteur, Franz Liszt, Pope John XXIII, and the parents of Saint Therese of Lisieux. Today we have over 15,000 professed members in the United States alone. The vast majority of us are simple, unknown, ordinary people. But working together in our communities, we do many good things to help Christ enable the Reign of God.
Why become a member?
You will never be alone. The brothers and sisters of the Franciscan family will stand by you on your journey to holiness. In today’s world we are plagued by time schedules, projects and activities that leave us tense and stressed. The OFS becomes our place of refuge and renewal where our brothers and sisters in Francis support and inspire us. You too can become a life-time member of our family.