We are the Northwest Franciscan Community of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a local fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order. We gather at 7:30 p.m. on the second Monday of each month at St. Joseph’s Home, 80 W. Northwest Hwy., Palatine, Illinois.
Established in 1961, our fraternity has members who have been professed for over 50 years, and others who have been professed for under 5 years. Our members range in age from 20s through 90s, come from all walks of life, and hold a variety of professions.
What is the Secular Franciscan Order?
The Secular Franciscan Order (Ordo Franciscanus Saecularis, OFS) is not a prayer group or club. Formerly known as the Third Order of St. Francis, it is an official order within the Catholic Church and was established by St. Francis of Assisi in 1221 for lay men and women wanting to follow his way of life.
Unlike our religious brothers and sisters, we stay in our homes with our families, and continue to work at our jobs.
What is a Local Fraternity?
The OFS is organized into fraternities of various levels — local, regional, national, and international, with the local fraternity as the basic unit of the order. The local fraternity is where members gather on a regular basis for prayer, study, and fellowship.
What Do You “Do”?
We live the gospel in the example of St. Francis of Assisi:
“The rule and life of the Secular Franciscans is this: to observe the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by following the example of St. Francis of Assisi who made Christ the inspiration and the center of his life with God and people.
“Christ, the gift of the Father’s love, is the way to him, the truth into which the Holy Spirit leads us, and the life which he has come to give abundantly.
“Secular Franciscans should devote themselves especially to careful reading of the gospel, going from gospel to life and life to gospel.” (Article 4, Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order)
We do this through …
Monthly gatherings, where we study, pray, and socialize together.
Apostolates, which include collecting items for the guests at an area soup kitchen; creating prayer shawls; praying for children preparing for First Communion or Confirmation; running a monthly bingo session for the residents of a home for the elderly; and periodic financial support for Franciscan Missionary Union, Franciscan Outreach, Poor Clares (Palos Park, IL), and Amazon Relief.
Individual members participate in a range of apostolic activities such as praying outside abortion clinics; contacting elected officials; and packing food for shipment to those in need around the world; and serving in various ministries as lectors, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, sacristans, and religious education instructors.
Days of Recollection, where we study and reflect on various aspects of living our Franciscan vocation. Past topics include “Bl. Angela of Foligno (1248-1309): Secular Franciscan Mystic”, “The New Evangelization: A Franciscan Perspective”, and “Joy of the Gospel: Franciscan Style”, among others.
Who Can Join?
Married or single women and men who are faithful, practicing Catholics are able to join the OFS, as are diocesan priests and deacons. Men and women who are already bound by a perpetual commitment to another religious family or institute of consecrated life cannot belong to the OFS. (See Article 2.1, General Constitutions of the Secular Franciscan Order.)
“To be admitted to the [OFS] in the United States, a person must be a fully initiated member of the Catholic Church (i.e., having received the Sacraments of Baptism, Chrismation/Confirmation and Holy Eucharist) in addition to being an actively practicing Catholic.
“The minimum age for perpetual profession as a Secular Franciscan in the United States is twenty-one (21) years, and the minimum age for temporary profession as a Secular Franciscan in the United States is eighteen (18) years.” [There is no upper-age limit.] (Articles 19.2.d and 19.3, Statutes of the National Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order in the United States of America)
Are You Called to the Secular Franciscan Order?
- If you love St. Francis of Assisi …
- If you appreciate the world and all its gifts …
- If you follow an authentically Catholic approach to peace and justice …
- If your work can be a source of joy …
- If you care about youth and their faith journey …
- If family for you means commitment, love, and joy …
… then you may have a vocation to the OFS, living as a married or single person in the world. Call (847) 701-4SFO or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more. You are also welcome to visit us at our monthly gatherings.
What is the Vocational Process?
As with any order in the Church, becoming a Secular Franciscan involves discernment and progressive stages of formation, followed by a permanent profession. For information, see the following resources from our regional, national, and international fraternities.
- Mother Cabrini Region: Vocations
A brief overview of the process involved in becoming a Secular Franciscan.
- National Fraternity of the OFS – USA: Welcome from the National Minister
A high-level description of our order and the formation process.
- International Fraternity of the OFS: “A Specific Vocation for A Particular Mission” by Benedetto Lino, OFS
Detailed discussion and examination of the vocation and mission of the Secular Franciscan Order. (PDF; 17 pages)