Secular Franciscan Order - SFO

Secular Franciscan Order - SFO

Ordo Franciscanus Saecularis - OFS


History and structure of the Secular Franciscan Order

Secular Franciscan Order exists in the Church from 1221 year. Persons wishing to join the Order should try to learn more about its history, the circumstances of his work for the Church, and representatives of famous saints who came from its ranks and modern structure, organization and objectives of the SFO.

1. The circumstances in which there was a SFO.

Secular Franciscan Order originated in Italy in the first half of the thirteenth century, namely in 1221 year. Its founder is St. Francis of Assisi. Initially, the first saint founded the male Order, and then together with St. Clara, the second female order. Therefore, he founded secular society of people living in the world performing their professional and social responsibilities, and strive for Christian perfection, was named Third Franciscan Order.

The main reason for the creation of the Third Order, was a great religious zeal that awakened life example, sermons of St. Francis and his person. The creation of secular Franciscan Order meets the desire of worldly people who wanted to conduct an in-depth spiritual life and apostolic work, but could not join the First or Second Order through duties or professional or family.

In 1221, the Francis preached a sermon in areas Zinara in Umbria, then a lot of men and women of different social status, who wanted to live the Gospel, following the example of Francis appealed to him to advise that they need to do to get closer to God. Francis replied that it is necessary to return to daily duties, and he will show them soon the way. From this time dates back to the foundation of the Third Order of its first members - spouses Luchesio and his wife Bonadonna from Poggibonsi, town near Florence. They took himself St. Francis.

The organization of the Third Order and grant him legal norms, Rule, helped to St. Francis Cardinal Ugolino later - Pope Gregory IX. He helped St. Francis regulatory process for the newly formed Third Order, which in 1221 was approved by the Holy See.

This Regula called "Memorial siblings of repentance" existed until 1289, in which Pope Nicholas IV, Franciscan advised restore regulation that same year stated. This Regula existed in the third six centuries to the Order of Pope Leo XIII, who advised regulatory reform to meet the new needs of the Church. New version was approved in 1883, which lasted until 1978, the time when, after Vatican II church law courts had to adapt it to the council approvals.

Founded Secular Franciscan Order quickly spread. First, throughout Italy, and later in other countries, where arrived spiritual sons of the First Order of St. Francis.

About new case of Francis, which lasted a century later write, in 1921, Pope Benedict XV: "Francis through the grace of God first began to implement the idea that lifestyle in Order to make a total that still failed to make any tertiary".

SFO members belonging to the public association of the Roman Catholic Church and Franciscan spirituality living in communities under the spiritual guidance of priests First Franciscan Order. After the Second Vatican Council, which drew attention to the presence and testimony of lay Catholics in any medium, III Order was restored. Pope Paul VI approved in 1978 tertiary’sCharter, and in 1990 Pope John Paul II - the new Constitution, according to which all Catholics, children, young people and adults are in following God`s calling to introduce the Gospel to life, taking the spirituality of the Secular Franciscan Order.

Order engaged in apostolic and evangelization activities. These lay Catholics - men and women, people of various specialties - seek to shape their daily lives based on very simple and clear gospel principles. Today, worldwide Franciscan tertiaries are about 450 thousand.


2. Objectives and purpose of the SFO.

The members of the SFO as persons who choose life in the regular Order, with two main goals: the desire for holiness and apostolate in the Church.

Recognize Jesus Christ the only Lord of your life, trust in Him, and, in imitation of Jesus, go to God our Father. The Holy Spirit must be the very first; whom we should listen to, because he instills in us the love of the Father and Jesus sanctifies us with His grace. Take the knowledge of Jesus Christ means to keep the commandments of God, to live evangelical counsels, to faithfully serve his state and labor, to meet with God in the sacraments, guided in family and social life of the law of love. Who will lead his way of life, so full of conviction will be able to realize this is the first problem that arises from the fact of belonging to the SFO, and be closer to God. Well it is the pursuit of holiness expresses in prayer of St. Francis: "O God, our God, and our glorious Creator! Clarify the darkness of my heart, O King! Give the true faith, give strong hope, give infinite love, light and understanding to Thy holy will fulfill me, O God! To thy error-free, these have I will! "

Apostleship can take different forms depending on the obtained talents, capabilities, requirements and guidelines of the Church. For every available form of apostleship through prayer for apostolic Church affairs, sacrificing their own suffering for the Church, witness of good Christian life. Can be used in other forms, depending on the personal capacity. For example, helping the poor, evangelization (actions in the case of conversion to God unbelieving people). care about the beauty of the God’s House and around it.


3. The merits of the SFO to the Church.

The growth of religious life of Order is the fruit of holiness: saints and blessed and faithful servants of God. Church canonized 112 people who come from the Third Franciscan Order, and 60 people died in a state of holiness and in process of beatification. Among proclaimed saints are people of different state: Pope: St. Pius X; Kings: St. Louis, King of France; Princess St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Saint. Elizabeth Portuguese; priests of St. Vyaney John, St. Roh, St. Margaret of Cortona.

Through the establishment of the hospitals they helped sick people, of which the government is not worried. Through the establishment of public funds and interest-free banks they helped poor people eliminate debts.


4. Known representatives of SFO.

FOS can be proud known personalities who influenced his authority on the actions of society, or who have served their activities for the common good. As: Pope - Leo XIII, St. Pius X, Pius XII, John XXIII; Kings: St. Ferdinand, King of Castile, St. Elizabeth Portuguese; Christopher Columbus, Vasco de Gama; famous artists, poets, writers, politicians - Giotto, Dante Alighieri, Francesco Petrarch, Cervantes, Thomas Moore and others.


5. Local Community

The main cell of the Secular Franciscan Order is the local community established legally at the monastery church or parish. Prior to the actual establishment of the community the written consent of the Ordinary Bishop and document that sets it signed with the Pastor and the Franciscan Order or other authorized for this priest.


• Community Guidelines

At the head of the community should be a council that the first term appointed by those who founded this community, and the next time - chosen by those who have made a vow in the local community, for a period of three years. The Council consists of senior, his deputy, secretary, responsible for formation, treasurer. If necessary, it’s possible to choose other members to additional posts. Management should meet once a month to discuss the formation planning and apostolic work community.


• Local assistant

Each local community according to the requirements of the General Constitution SFO should have spiritual assistant, which in cooperation with the Council serves this community, providing for an appropriate level of spiritual life both individual members and the entire community.


• Postulate

In postulate that lasts about 12 months, the candidate meets with the life of St. Francis, the history and structure of the Secular Franciscan Order, its aim and objectives, legal documents and liturgy. Once completed postulate comes to decision-novitiate.

- Novitiate

In the novitiate, which lasts 12 months, informational meetings are introduced to the rule of Secular Franciscan Order and the basic principles of the Franciscan spirituality.

- Vow

After the novitiate, candidates are allowed to pass the promises - I vows, II vows, III vows (for three years). During this period they are involved in activities in the Order, formation of spiritual growth during the lessons of religion.

- Permanent formation

Further formation called permanent, take place at monthly meetings and worship community.


In Ukraine Secular Franciscan Community first appeared in the XIV century. We now have members of the SFO are about 1100 people, united in about 50 communities of Roman Catholic parishes. Among them are people of different social backgrounds, different professions. Responding to the needs of modern society, the Order established a Franciscan School of Evangelization, which is the help in the renovation of parishes and local communities SFO. The spiritual assistant community SFO in Kiev and Ukraine is Rev.Yuriy Zelinsky OFMCap.

Diligently working on themselves, they seek to achieve the ideal of Christian maturity, which manifests itself, for example, not to say anything bad about his neighbor. Particularly concerned about the atmosphere of joint meetings, support each other in difficult life situations (for example: loss of work, illness, surgery, death of a relative).

Tertiaries involved in the work of evangelization in Ukraine, helping to organize retreats, parish groups, ecumenical meetings. Members of the Order serve to orphans, retired, blind, homeless people. Admiring nature, they collaborate with the ecological movement. Greeting each other saying, "Peace and good!", they want to be peacemakers in their families and the environment. SFO members willingly pray in communities and share their spiritual experience and understanding of God`s Word. Seek to enrich various gifts of the Holy Spirit in order to better serve each other.

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