Become a Franciscan Brother

 

Below, we have included two documents about joining our joining our Franciscan community. The first one is an outline of the process of joining the First Order. The second article is as an essay on the actual process from the perspective of two brothers in community. We look forward to meeting new aspirants and those interested in joining the way of our blessed Brother Francis.

 

On Becoming a Friar

•  Contact the Vocation Director Brother Desmond Alban, SSF via email: desmondalbanssf@franciscans.org.uk

•  Visit one of our friaries to see first hand who we are and what we are like

•  During you visit to the friaries you will be interviewed by several of the brothers.

•  Submit an application

•  Undergo a background check, physical and psychological tests

•  Receive the invitation to come to test your vocation

 

Stages of Discernment

•  Postulancy (usually three to six months)

•  Novitiate (usually three years) - Novices take a vow of obedience and receive a habit

•  First Profession (not less than three years) - Professed have taken vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience and their habit

   includes a cord with three knots life profession

 

Requirement for Membership

•  Normally be in communion with the See of Canterbury (be an Episcopalian)

•  Furnish reverences of character

•  Be of sufficiently sound health, physically and psychologically

•  Be free of all obligations: domestic, financial, etc. However, aspirants outstanding federally funded student loans may be admitted to the formation of the Society of St. Francis if they arrange a deferment or other method of of their loans during a period of their formation. Thereafter the repayment of the brother's student loan will be the responsibility of the house in which the brother though the obligation of the loan remains with the brother. We understand that education gained as a result of these loans should assist the brother in earning that will enable the house to repay the loans. If the brother should no longer be member of the Society of St. Francis , the Society  has no obligation in the repayment these loans.

•  Have at least two years of work or college

•  Sign the following statement: "If I am accepted as an aspirant or postulant and come to live with the Friars the Society of St. Francis, and subsequently leave the community, I agree I cannot of right claim or reclaim anything from the Society for any reason."

 

Vocation

What do you do if you sense God is calling you to Religious Life? First of all, take a deep breath, sit still with God. Just even questioning "God, what do you want me to do in my life?" is itself a call from God. Without God's active commission in your life, this question would not even exist for you.

 

Dwell on this question. It will take months of quietness with God and your soul to even to begin consideration of a call for vocation. This is true for all religious orders. This is for all ways of being in religious life. For Franciscan vocation, this includes commitment to be a friend or associate, to consider the Third Order SSF or joining communal life in the First Order brothers.

 

How does it work? Where would you fit in the larger Franciscan community?

 

The First Order is primarily what people think of as Franciscan friars (see illustration to the left). These are men clothed in brown habits with the rope at the side (poorly illustrated at left) and the cappuce (hood). These are men who live together as a communal family and accept the traditional vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Their ministry is an apostolic ministry grounded in daily prayer, obedience and living out the gospel message of Jesus Christ in our modern world. Some may be called to more active ministries such as working with the poor, prison ministries . . . . and within the greater Christian Church.

 

Francis was called to active ministry in the world and deep contemplative communion with God as well. We are expected to have active presence in both of these experiences. This is a unique tension within the Franciscan vocation.

 

After talking with the Vocations Director, he will provide further information and an application to join.

 

Then you visit the communities. We offer vocations retreats each summer at Little Portion Friary. Here you will meet other men exploring the same call from God, live for a week with brothers in community life. Whether at a vocations retreat or simply visiting an individual friary, it is important to get a sense of the real life of who we are as brothers. We are all deeply devoted men and also truly human. When you visit a house, for your discernment about the call from God, you will meet individually with the brothers. You may be asked questions about how God called you, what you makes sense God°Øs movement in your life, specifically why a Franciscan vocation, about your family life, your commitments, your goals. At this point you are considered an enquirer into a possible Franciscan vocation.

 

After meeting the brothers, you will have time back home to reflect upon your experiences and in a way deepen your prayer about vocation. Because now you will know us and are in relationship with us. But with this information and openness and personal authenticity, speak to God about your desires.

 

So now, it will become clearer, whether a) you are called to Franciscan life or religious vocation at all or b) whether you are called to life with God through secular work.

 

There are within SSF three ways to live out a Franciscan vocation: Associates, Third Order and First order brothers.

 

There are within SSF three ways to live out a Franciscan vocation: Associates, Third Order and First order brothers.

 

ASSOCIATES

These are men and women who in their friendship support the ministries and life of all Franciscans brothers and sisters. They pray for the brothers and sisters, make retreats, attend services, become friends of our friaries. They communicate with the brothers and ask for prayer. Some are able to offer financial support to our brothers and sisters. But they live their own lives in their own home. They do not feel a specific call to three vows. These Over a period of time let God speak to you about God's desire for you.  Associates and friends are however moved by the life of Francis, the love of the brothers and sisters, and a desire for deeper relationship with Christ in their daily life.

 

THIRD ORDER SSF

Like the first order, this grouping of brothers and sisters stems from the history of Francis¡¯ ministry to lay men and women. He created this order recognizing that the vowed communal life was not everyone. In Francis¡¯ lifetime, as today, there are men and women who desire to live out the Gospel life but are committed in family relationships and work responsibilities. The Third Order brothers and sisters live in the spirit of the vows and dedicate themselves to daily Franciscan prayer and ministry. They meet together regularly in their local areas for support and growth in their Franciscan identity. Just as in the first order, there is a period of formation in which they are mentored to encourage a spiritual rule of life, write a spiritual memoir and meet with a spiritual director.

 

FIRST ORDER SSF

In the years after the First World War, several men asked for God to raise up a Franciscan awareness and vocation in the Episcopal Church in America. In 1919 Father Joseph, an Episcopal priest established a Franciscan Community in Wisconsin. It grew from the monastic tradition of daily offices (prayer), worship, manual work, ministry to the poor in outlying churches and communities.

 

Ten years later, the small group of men transferred to Mt. Sinai, NY and established Little Portion Friary. Since then an active community of men have lived the Gospel life there and in San Francisco, CA.

 

As First Order brothers, we follow the Rule of Francis with small modifications for modern life. We live the three traditional vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

 

about the call from God, you will meet individually with the brothers. You may be asked questions about how God called you, what you makes sense God's movement in your life, specifically why a Franciscan vocation, about your family life, your commitments, your goals. At this point you are considered an enquirer into a possible Franciscan vocation.

 

POVERTY

As individuals and as an Order poverty means living simply with detachment from financial and material possession. We are poor in spirit and truly dependent up God. Poverty is less dependent on a view of material good and more fully aware of our complete dependency on God¡¯s provision. This then leads to Franciscan humility which is the core of our community life.

 

CHASTITY

  Rather than having a single intimate relationship to another person, we choose to devote our lives to others in the love of Christ. {The relationship then is with Christ which manifests itself into a dependence on our brothers. This loving relationship with Christ manifests itself to commitment to our brothers and all of creation. We accept that we need to be authentically human and voice our concerns about intimacy, our desires, and frustrations. We recognize that God created us fully human and seek to be fully authentic as we address our needs about intimacy, desire and companionship.

 

As in poverty, we recognize that what think of the vow deepens and changes. We come to an awareness of our true interdependence with each other as brothers and our complete dependance on God. Our whole existence, then, is determined by our relationship to God. So then it is not simply an issue of absence of sexuality and primary relationship but rather is a fullness of living out our lives in God. This takes take time. But we trust in the wisdom of Francis as these were the same issues in his time and with his brothers.

 

OBEDIENCE

This is actually the central vow and the heart of our lives in community. It relates and implies a personal humility accepting the will and purpose of God in our daily walk. This may be reflected in the decisions of our leadership in community or in the quiet voice of God in our hearts . This obedience leads us into our ministries, where we live, how we regard our prayer lives and spiritual development. We entered the Order coming out of lives and independence and individual choice. There are sometimes conflicts about what we personally want and the needs of community. This Rather than having a single intimate relationship to another person, we choose to devote our lives to others in the love of Christ. {The relationship then is with Christ which manifests itself into a dependence on our brothers. This loving relationship with Christ manifests itself to commitment to our brothers and all of creation. We accept that we need to be authentically human and voice our concerns about intimacy, our desires, and frustrations. We recognize that God created us fully human and seek to be fully authentic as we address our needs about intimacy, desire and companionship.

 

As in poverty, we recognize that what think of the vow deepens and changes. We come to an awareness of our true interdependence with each other as brothers and our complete dependance on God. Our whole existence, then, is determined by our relationship to God. So then it is not simply an issue of absence of sexuality and primary relationship but rather is a fullness of living out our lives in God. This takes take time. But we trust in the wisdom of Francis as these were the same issues in his time and with his brothers.

 

After completion of the postulancy, an individual may be clothed as a novice (in habit) to join us a brother in community. This period of novitiate is one of continuing formation and discernment. By being clothed in the brown habit and living the full communal life as a brother, you will better understand the reality of our Franciscan life together. The period of the novitiate is about three years.

 

After this time, both brothers and novice together discern if a deeper commitment and relationship together is the will of God and is best for community. Then the brother promises the three classic vows and becomes a professed brother in community. First profession of vows is a continued time of formation for about three to seven years after which a lifetime commitment is made to the vows, the community and the Christian Church.

 

This page was written by two brothers Jacob and Donald Luke in the spirit and experience of our Franciscan life. This is a general introduction and questions are welcomed and encouraged.

 

 

© 2015 Society of  St. Francis