Purpose of Formation

When we look at the Secular Franciscan formation process, it is important to see it as a continuum, that is, each stage flowing into the next. Aspects that are essential in the first phase, ORIENTATION will still be essential in the second, INQUIRY the third, CANDIDACY and into the Ongoing Formation of PROFESSED MEMBERS

The Secular Franciscan Order, as all religious orders, has its Rule and General Constitution, the charism of the founders and the mission give to it by the Church. Our current Rule was approved by Pope Paul VI on June 24,1978.

Membership in the Secular Franciscan Order is achieved through a journey, a time of formation. During the formative period candidates are invited to search out the will of God for them through study, prayer and reflection. The Fraternity provides an environment in which candidates experience more deeply the evangelical life, establish fraternal relationships and find ways for a more fruitful involvement in the life and the mission of the Church.

In Fraternities formation is “carried out with frequent meetings for study and prayer and with concrete experiences of service and of apostolate” (GC art. 40:1). During formation, the candidates are exposed to the key documents of the Franciscan life: Sacred Scriptures, the writings by and about St. Francis, the Rule and Constitution of the Order, and the national and regional statutes which have been approved for use in individual countries. “They are trained in love for the Church and the acceptance of her teaching. The laity practice living their secular commitment in the world in an evangelical way”. (GC art. 40: 2)

The last line of article 40:2 is particularly important; here the members of the Secular Franciscan Order are invited to see the world and their place in the world against the horizon of the Gospel as they move from “Gospel to life and life to the Gospel” as the Rule challenges them to do. In this sense, “evangelical” means a way of life, which is imbued and guided by the Gospel and personal example of Jesus.

The important element of continuous conversion in the Franciscan life is strengthened in article 44 of the Constitution. Formation is not a stage of preparation from which a secular graduates. It is rather an invitation to a way of life in which one works toward spiritual growth and maturity.