About the Franciscan Servants
Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone was born in 1181 in Assisi, Italy. Renamed Francesco by his father, he became Saint Francis to the rest of the world.
Francis was raised in a wealthy household. Around twenty years old, Francis went out with the townsmen to fight the Perugians in one of the skirmishes so frequent at that time between the rival cities. The people of Assisi were defeated on this occasion, and Francis was taken prisoner and held for over a year. Soon after, before the crucifix in the chapel of San Damiano, Francis began a lifetime of spiritual transformation. He began nursing lepers and repairing broken churches. He vowed to live a life "in obedience, in chastity and without property; and to follow the teaching and footsteps of Christ."
His first followers were brothers, or friars, and later became officially recognized as a religious order known as the Friars Minor ('Little Brothers'). One of his early followers was a wealthy and beautiful young woman named Clare. She left all comfort for a life of hardship and prayer. Her devout life attracted other women. They became known as the "Poor Ladies," and later as "Poor Clares". This was the "Second Order" of St. Francis.
Saint Francis of Assisi and his first companions were inspired by the Holy Spirit to live the gospel as a fraternity group, and following the example of Jesus and his apostles, they traveled through cities and countryside to preach the holy gospel and ask the people to live a Christian life more in keeping with the message of salvation.
Many people were moved by the living testimony of Francis, the “Poverello” (the Poor Man) and wanted to follow him. They wanted to behave as he did faithful to Christ and to the word of life in the gospels.
Popular Enthusiasm and Followers Francis welcomed everyone as a gift from God. The men who followed him became Minor Friars; young ladies became the Poor Ladies or Poor Clares. Francis also inspired many men and women who did not enter into religious service. They remained in the outside world and continued their normal activities. This movement evolved into the Franciscan Third Order of Penance.
Towards a more Perfect Life Francis recognized that there were people who could not give up their spouses, children, or jobs who desired to follow him in a spirit of renunciation, prayer and service. He responded by establishing the "Brothers and Sisters of Penance". Members of the Third Order, known as "Tertiaries", live by a Rule of Life for which includes prayer, meditation, active service and renewed commitment to living the Gospel.
The form of life lived in the Franciscan Servants is most generally that of the secular order. However, we do not identify ourselves as third order secular, regular, second order, or first order. This practice more correctly reflects the reality of our Order because some of our sisters and brothers live a life in the Franciscan tradition according to the Rule of the First or Second Order, some according to the Third Order Regular, and some modeled after the Rule of the Third Order Secular. The Franciscan Servants, being an ecumenical order of Franciscans, seeks to reinforce and exemplify the unity that exists within the Kingdom of God. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28).
Wherever you find yourself in life, the Franciscan Servants welcome you to explore your calling to vocation in the Franciscan tradition.
The Apostolic Activities The apostolic activities ministered by the Franciscan Servants are many: pastoral care within the parishes, acts of kindness for the needy, schools for the young, teaching and preaching, and missionary work. But the main apostolic aim is to live the gift of a consecrated life as a continual offering upon the altar of the world, for and to the glory of God, and the salvation of our fellow men.
The Spirituality The traditional spirituality of the Franciscan Servants derives from the Franciscan Movement and can be synthesized in the following theoretical-practical definition: the duty of constant conversion to a living God in the biblical sense, and to perform acts of kindness according to time and place.
The Franciscan Journey Jesus travels the world and seeks assistants to help spread the Word of the Gospel. In the same way that he called forth Saint Francis of Assisi and performed wondrous works together with him, so Jesus calls you to spread the message of salvation throughout the world of today.
Jesus appeals to each one of you, full of faith and love: "Come, leave everything and I will make you fishers of men, and you will see extraordinary things. You can make your own existence more precious by proclaiming peace, justice and the mutual need for live, by easing the suffering of the needy, and by becoming a missionary. Don’t be afraid, come".
Pax et Bonum! "Peace and all good"
The Order of Franciscan Servants seeks to be a diverse community, truly expressing the Pilgrim Church on earth. Our religious order welcomes people from diverse liturgical, theological, and denominational affiliations, cultural backgrounds, and ages.
Drawn together by the Most Holy Eucharist and committed to the gospel message of social justice, compassion, and service, we welcome both men and women to join us on this journey, constantly listening for the voice of God among us. The Order of Franciscan Servants accepts our Lord's instruction to Saint Francis to "go build my church" by beginning this work in ourselves.
Pax et Bonum (Peace and all good things)