Fr. Jeff and the Secular Franciscan Order

I’ve been thinking about the Secular Franciscans. At the Transitus, one of the local fraternities asked if I could help find a Friar to serve as their Spiritual Assistant since the last Assistant was recently transferred. Today’s mail brought some paperwork from our Provincial Spiritual Assistant Juniper Crouch. He found some information regarding the grant that the Province gave to the Secular Franciscan Order many years ago from the sale of Duns Scotus College to help fund ongoing formation activities. Juniper thought it would be wise to have the documentation in our Archives. Several years ago I was the Spiritual Assistant to St. Margaret of Cortona Fraternity in Cincinnati, and I just learned that a very active, committed, and generous member of the Fraternity, Barbara Sonnenberg, passed away last week. She had served as part of the Fraternity Council when I was with them.

Support for our Secular Franciscan brothers and sisters is one of the ministries mandated in our General Constitutions. Article 60 reads: §1 "The First Order has been entrusted with the care of the Secular Franciscan Order. This displays the spirit of St. Francis in the world; it shares in the life, witness and mission of the Franciscan charism and it makes its own necessary and complementary contribution to the fullness of that charism. §2 The Friars Minor are to value the Secular Franciscan Order, assist it with special care, and foster it through reciprocal vitality and mutual assistance, in such a way that it may be imbued all the more with a genuine Franciscan spirit and may be promoted in the world, especially among the young."

They have gone through some changes in recent years in how they organize and structure themselves; they have changed their initials from SFO (Secular Franciscan Order) to OFS after the Latin Ordo Franciscanus Secularis, but the mission of living the Gospel in the secular state remains the same. Some of us may remember the Junior Third Order (JTO) which focused on youth. Though not too prevalent in the U.S., there are movements of Franciscan Youth in many parts of the world, often called YouFra. You can learn more about both on the Secular Franciscan Order website. Wouldn’t it be great if we could find a way to energize and organize young people with the Franciscan spirit?

The Council is grateful to Juniper for his work on the national level and for the many friars who serve as Spiritual Assistants to various fraternities. There are a good number of fraternities still looking for friars to assist them. If you have interest, contact Juniper.

–Fr. Jeff Scheeler, OFM