The Secular Franciscan Order and Political Violence

A personal Reflection


Today, political violence is a significant issue. From terrorist attacks to civil unrest, the need for understanding and action is dire. The Secular Franciscan Order (OFS) can provide a unique perspective on this problem. This Order has a long history of advocating for peace and justice, which provides valuable insight into this pressing issue. In this article, we will explore the OFS’s perspectives on political violence and how it can be used to bring about positive change in our world.

The Secular Franciscan Order began as part of the Franciscan movement in 1209, founded by St. Francis of Assisi. This Order was created to live a life of simplicity and poverty and to strive for holiness through active service to others. Through their commitment to these values, the OFS has become known as an advocate for social justice and peacemaking throughout their long existence.

Political violence has taken on an increasingly destructive tone in recent years worldwide. With no end in sight, we must look at new ways of addressing this issue. By examining the views of the OFS on this problem and exploring viable solutions they may provide, we can work towards finding real-world solutions that benefit us all. We hope that through this article, readers will understand how we can use the principles of the Secular Franciscan Order to create a better future for all people affected by political violence today.

History Of the Secular Franciscan Order

The Secular Franciscan Order (OFS) is a Catholic order of lay people, including bishops, priests, and deacons, who follow the spiritual example of St. Francis of Assisi. Founded in 1209 and receiving its original Rule in 1221, the OFS is one of the oldest religious orders in the world. Its members live in their own homes and have secular jobs but remain committed to following a Rule of Life like that set by St. Francis for his brothers. This includes committing themselves to poverty, humility, self-denial, service to others, and prayer.

Today, there are more than 300,000 members worldwide. They are active in many fields, including education, healthcare, social work, and disaster relief efforts. In addition to serving their local community, they often participate in international work such as peace initiatives and human rights campaigns. They also offer spiritual support to those suffering from physical or mental illness or disability and guide ethical decision-making.

Today’s Secular Franciscans strive to bring peace through nonviolent means such as dialogue, diplomacy, and advocacy for justice. Instead of relying solely on force or coercion when faced with complex decisions or conflicts, Secular Franciscans look for ways to create understanding and mutual respect among all parties involved so that everyone can peacefully benefit from resolving disputes. They recognize that political violence is not a solution to any problem or conflict; instead, it leads only to further suffering for all parties involved. The OFS encourages its members to use peaceful interventions when possible and always seek nonviolent solutions.

Principles Of the Secular Franciscan Order

The Secular Franciscan Order (OFS) is guided by four core principles: charity, humility, nonviolence, and poverty. These principles are the foundation of their mission to bring peace and justice to the world.

  • Charity is a cornerstone of the OFS’s mission. Members are encouraged to reach out with love and compassion towards everyone, regardless of race or religion. They strive for understanding between diverse cultures to create unity amongst all people on earth.
  • Humility is another important principle for members of the OFS. They seek to be humble in thought, word, and deed to become more like Jesus Christ and serve as an example for others. This entails abandoning pride, arrogance, and selfishness in favor of a life devoted to serving God and others.
  • Nonviolence is essential in achieving their goal of peace throughout the world. The OFS passionately believes that violence leads only to further suffering; therefore, they rely on peaceful means such as dialogue, diplomacy, and advocacy when faced with demanding situations or conflicts.
  • Poverty is an essential part of the OFS’s way of life. Members embrace a life of simplicity and voluntary poverty to remain detached from material possessions and focus on spiritual matters. This helps them understand the needs of the less fortunate and encourages them to share what they have with others.

Considering these principles, members of the Secular Franciscan Order reject any form of political violence today and any other violent behavior that does not promote peace or respect for human dignity. Their commitment to nonviolence demonstrates their dedication to creating a better world through nonviolent means for everyone involved.

Current Practices of The Secular Franciscan Order

As part of their mission to bring peace and justice to the world, members of the Secular Franciscan Order strive to intentionally live the Gospel of Jesus. They actively advocate for change and engage in peaceful dialogue with those who differ from them.

The OFS is dedicated to working towards a more just and equitable society. They often participate in marches and protests and volunteer in their local communities. They also work with other faith-based organizations, such as Catholic Charities, to aid those in need. Additionally, they use social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to spread messages of peace and hope worldwide.

The relationship between religion and politics is complex. While the Secular Franciscan Order rejects all forms of violence, they understand that there are times when people must take a stand against oppressive political systems. They acknowledge that religion can powerfully influence society and politics and strive to use their faith to foster peace and justice.

Secular Franciscans recognize the need for leaders who embody moral principles and ethics to bring about real change. They believe in holding those in power accountable for their actions and working with them to achieve positive outcomes. The OFS also encourages and engages with other faiths, recognizing our shared humanity and striving for mutual understanding and respect.

At the heart of the Secular Franciscan Order is a commitment to nonviolence. This commitment extends beyond physical violence; it includes speaking out against policies or behaviors that hurt or oppress people, regardless of their faith or beliefs. They strive not only to protect themselves from harm but also to protect others from injustice or oppression. By advocating for justice and peace, members of the Secular Franciscan Order hope to create a more fraternal and just world.

Global Political Violence Today

Today, the world is facing a wide range of political violence. From civil wars and terrorism to oppressive regimes and economic injustice, the list of problems that need to be addressed seems endless. Secular Franciscans take a firm stance against all forms of violence, recognizing it as an affront to the dignity of human life and a violation of fundamental human rights. They strive to foster peace through education, collaboration, and understanding, believing these are essential for lasting change.

The OFS also encourages its members to actively participate in society through political or social activities promoting justice, peace, and respect for human life. They recognize that although violence may seem like an efficient way to achieve specific goals in the short term, it will only lead to further suffering eventually. As such, they advocate for nonviolent approaches to conflict resolution that prioritize dialogue over force or coercion.

Finally, members of the Secular Franciscan Order strive to live out their faith by example. Through acts of compassion and mercy, they seek to bring about positive change in their communities. By embodying moral principles and setting an example of peacemaking, they hope to inspire others around them who may be struggling with complex decisions or facing oppressive systems. In this way, they seek to create a culture of justice and nonviolence, which can help bring lasting change in our world today.

The Role of Religion in Political Violence

Religion has long been a source of hope and solace for many people, but it can also be used to fuel political violence. As members of the Secular Franciscan Order, we must know how religion is used to justify acts of aggression, oppression, and injustice. We must strive to counter this by showing that faith is not a tool for exclusion or domination but rather a source of peace and acceptance.

The OFS recognizes that all religions have the potential to inspire love and compassion among their followers. However, they also understand that when such teachings are misused or taken out of context, they can lead to societal divisions or even violence. Therefore, they encourage their members to promote understanding between different religious groups and work towards creating an environment where all faiths can peacefully coexist.

In addition, Secular Franciscans believe in speaking out against unjust systems that rely on religion as a form of control or manipulation. They recognize that these forms of oppression are antithetical to the message of peace and justice central to most beliefs today. As such, they urge their members to stand up for those who suffer from religious persecution or discrimination and challenge any attempts by influential individuals or groups to use religion to consolidate power or enforce outdated laws.

The Secular Franciscan Order believes in the potential for religion to bring about positive change in our world today if it is used correctly. By actively promoting dialogue between different faiths and acting against oppressive systems relying on religious rhetoric, we can work together to create a more peaceful future for everyone.

Causes Of Political Violence Today

While religion has often been a source of violence in the past, there are numerous other causes of political violence today. It is often rooted in poverty and inequality, as those denied fundamental human rights are likelier to resort to violence out of desperation. Additionally, oppressive regimes can lead to feelings of anger and injustice, which can manifest as violent acts against the state or its representatives.

Furthermore, the rise of extremist ideologies has also played a significant role in fueling political violence. These ideologies often call for a radical transformation of society through force and coercion, disregarding human rights and democratic principles in pursuit of their goals. As such, they can lead to serious conflict between groups and individuals with different beliefs or backgrounds.

The spread of hate speech on social media has also impacted political violence, enabling extremists to spread their messages quickly and easily across borders. This type of rhetoric can incite individuals to act and give them the courage to commit acts they may not otherwise do without such encouragement.

It is clear that while religion has been a source of tension throughout history, multiple causes of political violence must be addressed to create a more peaceful world. We must work together to understand the underlying issues behind these conflicts and find solutions prioritizing dialogue over aggression. Only by doing so can we foster meaningful change within our societies and prevent further bloodshed.

Impact Of Political Violence on Society

The impact of political violence on society is far-reaching and can be devastating. It leads to loss of life, physical destruction, and economic damage and can also lead to long-term psychological trauma for those affected. For example, individuals may experience anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder due to their experiences in war or conflict zones. This can enormously impact their daily lives and their ability to function in society.

Moreover, political violence often leads to the breakdown of social trust within communities. When people do not feel safe expressing their beliefs or engaging in peaceful protest, they become more distrustful of each other, which can lead to further divisions and hostility. It is particularly true when violence is used as a tool for repression by governments or powerful groups to maintain control over the population.

Finally, political violence has a profound effect on democracy and human rights. When those in power use fear as a weapon, citizens cannot participate fully in democratic processes or hold their leaders accountable for their actions. It makes it difficult for democracies to function correctly, leading to further instability and unrest if the underlying causes are not addressed.

It is clear then that political violence has profound consequences for victims and society. Suppose we are to create a more secure future with tremendous respect for human rights and democratic principles. In that case, we must work together to understand these issues and find ways to prevent further violence.

Strategies For Resolving Conflict Within and Among Nations

Political violence can have a devastating effect on individuals, communities, and nations. Developing strategies for resolving conflicts within and among nations is essential to prevent further violence and create more closed societies.

One approach to conflict resolution is dialogue. By engaging in constructive dialogue with those who may hold different views or come from diverse backgrounds, we can better understand one another’s perspectives and identify areas of common ground. This can lead to more effective problem-solving by allowing all parties involved to express their needs and concerns without fear of retribution or violence.

Additionally, international organizations such as the United Nations and Franciscans International are crucial in mediating disputes between nations and preventing the escalation of violence. Through diplomatic efforts such as sanctions, peacekeeping forces, and negotiation processes, the UN has been able to help de-escalate conflicts around the world and promote respect for human rights.

Finally, faith-based organizations can also be powerful agents of peace. The Secular Franciscan Order offers a unique model for conflict resolution based on principles of nonviolence, justice, compassion, and collaboration. By building bridges between people of different faiths and recognizing our shared humanity, the Secular Franciscan Order works towards creating a more peaceful world free from political violence.

Implications For the Future

The strategies discussed above provide a valuable framework for addressing political violence today and in the future. To ensure that these strategies are effective in curbing violence, it is essential to continue promoting dialogue and understanding among those with differing perspectives. International organizations must also remain committed to conflict resolution efforts and work with local communities to ensure their rights are respected. Finally, faith-based organizations such as the Secular Franciscan Order can exemplify peaceful collaboration between people of diverse backgrounds and beliefs.

As societies become increasingly interconnected, it is essential that we recognize our shared humanity and strive for peace rather than allow political violence to tear us apart. By continuing to practice dialogue and respect for all peoples, we can foster a more secure world free from fear and oppression. In this way, we can help build a brighter future where everyone is safe from harm and can live with dignity and respect.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Optimal Approach to Resolving Political Violence?

Political violence has been a part of human existence for centuries, and its effects have been devastating. Political violence is rising in many parts of the world, making it an increasingly pressing issue. So, what is the optimal approach to resolving this issue?

One method of tackling political violence is to focus on education and awareness-raising. Educating people about the consequences of political violence can help reduce its prevalence. Additionally, providing information about peaceful alternatives to violent means of expression can help people find alternative methods to express their grievances without violence. This can be done through workshops, seminars, and other educational activities.

To successfully resolve any political conflict or dispute, all stakeholders involved must be willing to compromise and reach an agreement that meets everyone’s needs while avoiding further escalation of tensions. Achieving such an outcome requires careful consideration of both sides’ interests and perspectives for a successful resolution. It may not always be easy, but peaceful solutions can be found with dedication and patience, even in intractable political violence situations.

How Do Religious Beliefs Influence Political Behavior?

Religious beliefs play an essential role in shaping political behavior, and this impact can be seen in different faiths, including Catholic, Christian, Muslim, and Jewish communities. How do these religious beliefs influence political behavior and critical issues such as immigration, taxation, abortion, and global warming? Let’s explore how different faith backgrounds impact political views and how people of other faiths interact.

  • Christian Influence on Political Behavior.

In particular (and for purposes of this reflection), Catholicism is a widespread religion that has a significant impact on political behavior. Catholic teachings emphasize social justice and the sanctity of human life. These beliefs have led to the Catholic Church’s strong stance against abortion, capital punishment, and war. Catholicism teaches Christians to care for the poor and marginalized, which has led to the church’s support of policies such as social welfare programs and immigration reform.

  • Jewish influence on Political behavior. 

Judaism is the oldest Abrahamic religion and has an extraordinary impact on political behavior. Jewish teachings emphasize the importance of justice, compassion, and tikkun olam, or repairing the world. These beliefs have led to Jewish support for policies such as social welfare programs, economic development, and peace initiatives. Additionally, the Jewish community has a strong stance on issues such as immigration and global warming.

Islamic Influence on Political Behavior. 

  • Islam is the second-largest religion globally and significantly impacts political behavior. Islamic teachings emphasize the importance of social justice, charity, and equality. Muslims believe in building solid and harmonious communities and working towards a better society. These beliefs have led to Muslim support for social welfare programs, economic development, and environmental protection policies.

Interacting with different faiths. In today’s diverse world, people of different faiths must learn to interact with one another respectfully. Interfaith dialogue is critical to promoting understanding and tolerance between other faith communities. Through discussion, people can learn about different religious beliefs, cultures, and values and find common ground on critical political issues.

Different faith backgrounds and political beliefs. While religious beliefs play a significant role in shaping political behavior. It’s important to remember that people of the same faith can have vastly different political ideas. Race, ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status can all impact an individual’s political views. Therefore, it’s essential to approach discussions about politics and religion with sensitivity and respect.

Secular Franciscan Order (OFS).  Members of the OFS are committed to following the teachings of Jesus Christ and seeking peace through nonviolent means. Through prayer and service, they strive to bring about a more peaceful and just world. and show respect for everyone regardless of religious background or political affiliation. The OFS’s commitment to peace exemplifies everyone striving toward peaceful solutions rather than violent acts. As members of the OFS they work towards peaceful solutions to today’s political violence, and their religious beliefs guide them.

The teachings of Jesus provide an example of how to treat others with compassion and respect regardless of differences in opinion or background. Furthermore, their belief in nonviolence encourages them to seek constructive dialogue over violent confrontation when resolving conflicts between diverse groups or nations.

How Does the Secular Franciscan Order Address Global Political Violence?

The Secular Franciscan Order (OFS) is an order of faithful, faith-filled people who strive to uphold a moral code that guides their behavior in the face of political violence. The Order’s primary mission is to promote peace and justice in the world, and the teachings of St. Francis of Assisi have shaped its vision of global peace. As such, it is essential to understand how the OFS addresses political violence in today’s world.

The OFS operates under the principles of nonviolence and pacifism, which they believe will lead to greater peace and justice among nations. They seek to foster understanding between people through dialogue and education, believing that communication and compassion can help prevent conflicts from escalating into violence. Additionally, they advocate for social change through peaceful means, such as lobbying lawmakers and engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience campaigns.

To effectively address global political violence, believers within the OFS need to remain committed to their values of nonviolence and pacifism while continuing to raise awareness about human rights abuses and providing aid where needed. By living out their beliefs through these initiatives, members of the Secular Franciscan Order are helping bring peace one person at a time worldwide.

What Is the Relationship Between the Secular Franciscan Order and Politics?

The relationship between the Secular Franciscan Order and politics is an important one to consider. It reflects how the Religious Orders view their role in modern society, particularly regarding issues of global political violence. This article has explored the Secular Franciscan Order’s stance on politics and how it may be applied in today’s world.

Regarding their political engagement, the OFS actively encourages dialogue between conflicting parties and promotes cooperation. They also aim to bridge gaps between religious denominations while working towards greater understanding and mutual respect. Additionally, they focus on providing humanitarian aid to those affected by conflict or poverty and educating others about global issues that affect our lives today.

The work done by members of the OFS demonstrates that they are committed to making a difference in today’s world despite any political divides. Through their commitment to peace-building, human rights education, and interfaith dialogue, members of the Secular Franciscan Order strive for justice for all people, regardless of race or religion. Their efforts are essential for creating a more peaceful world where everyone can live together with respect and understanding, without fear or violence from those who seek power over others.

What Are the Main Causes of Political Violence Around the World Today?

Political violence is a significant issue that has plagued the world for generations and continues to be an issue today. It can take on many forms, from physical acts of aggression to oppressive laws, and its causes are complex and varied. To effectively address political violence, it is essential to understand the main factors driving this global phenomenon.

  • Economic inequality.

One of the key drivers of political violence is economic inequality. When dominant groups control resources and access to power, they may use their position to oppress others who lack financial means or political influence. This often leads to violent outbursts by those who feel their rights have been violated or ignored. Additionally, poverty can lead to desperation and a lack of hope which can drive individuals towards more powerful means of expressing their grievances.

  • Ideological differences.

Another factor in political violence is ideological differences. While some conflicts arise from economic disparity or historical legacies, others flare up due to opposing beliefs about how society should be organized or governed. Religious beliefs and national identities can also play into this dynamic as people struggle for dominance within a particular system or group.

  • Power imbalances

Finally, power imbalances between different actors within a given society can also contribute to political unrest and violence. When one group has more authority than another, it can lead to resentment among those without power, which may manifest itself in violent behavior as individuals attempt to gain control over their own lives and destinies. Furthermore, when certain groups are systematically excluded from decision-making processes or denied fundamental rights, this can increase tensions, eventually resulting in violent conflict.

There are multiple causes behind the global problem of political violence that need to be addressed if we want to make lasting progress in reducing the situation worldwide. Understanding these underlying factors will enable us to respond better with more effective solutions focusing on addressing root causes rather than simply responding with force when these issues arise.


The Secular Franciscan Order provides a unique perspective on addressing political violence. The Order emphasizes nonviolence, forgiveness, and reconciliation as the optimal approach for resolving political violence. It encourages people to rely on their faith to guide them in making decisions that will lead to peace. As a result, religious beliefs can significantly impact how people behave in politically charged situations and how they view the world around them.

Political violence is an ongoing problem in many parts of the world today. To combat it effectively, we must look at all viable solutions and understand the root causes of violence. We must continue to seek out ways to find common ground between diverse cultures and religions if we are ever going to find lasting solutions to political violence. The Secular Franciscan Order offers a valuable perspective on this issue and provides an example of how religious beliefs can be used to promote peace.

The Secular Franciscan Order is an important reminder of faith’s power in our lives and its potential for creating positive change in our world. By promoting nonviolence, forgiveness, and reconciliation, the Order serves as a beacon of hope in times of conflict and strife. We must look towards organizations like this one for guidance when confronting the challenges of political violence today.

Organizations supported by the OFS working worldwide for Peace and Justice.

Franciscans International – “Franciscans International advocates at the United Nations for the protection of human dignity and environmental justice.”

Franciscans International: home

Franciscan Action Network – “is a collective Franciscan voice seeking to transform United States public policy related to peacemaking, care for creation, poverty, and human rights.”

Home – Franciscan Action Network

OFS-USA National – Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) Commission

“The mission of Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation is to assist the professed Secular Franciscans as they reflect on their relationship with God as manifested in the fruits of conversion in their lives. This is with special regard to the daily choices made in justice, peacemaking, and respect for all created things and people; as brothers and sisters of penance, bringing life to the Gospel and the Gospel to Life.”


A Journey into the Heart of the Secular Franciscan Order

The Secular Franciscan Order is a community of lay people who follow the teachings of St. Francis of Assisi, focusing on living a life of simplicity, peace, and love. It originated in the 13th century and emphasizes prayer and contemplation, as well as working for peace, justice, and the protection of God’s creation. The order plays an important role in the Catholic Church and requires a serious commitment from its members.


The Secular Franciscan Order, also known as the Third Order of St. Francis of Assisi, is a community of lay people who live in the world and are dedicated to following the example of St. Francis of Assisi. The Secular Franciscan Order was founded in the 13th century and has a rich history of spiritual growth and service to the Church and society. The members of the Secular Franciscan Order are united by their common commitment to living a life of simplicity, peace and love in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi.

The Origins of the Secular Franciscan Order

The Secular Franciscan Order has its roots in the life and teachings of St. Francis of Assisi, who lived in the 13th century. St. Francis was known for his love of God, his love for all creatures and his deep respect for all of God’s creation. He taught his followers to live a life of poverty, simplicity and humility, and to seek God in all things.

In the early years of the Franciscan movement, many lay people were drawn to the example of St. Francis and sought to live a similar life in the world. These lay people formed communities and lived together in poverty and simplicity, following the example of St. Francis. Over time, these communities evolved into the Secular Franciscan Order, which has been an important part of the Catholic Church for over 700 years.

The Spiritual Beliefs of the Secular Franciscan Order

The Secular Franciscan Order is based on the teachings of St. Francis of Assisi and the Catholic Church. The members of the Secular Franciscan Order believe in the importance of living a life of simplicity, peace and love, and seek to follow the example of St. Francis in all aspects of their lives.

The Secular Franciscan Order also emphasizes the importance of prayer and contemplation, and encourages its members to deepen their relationship with God through regular prayer, spiritual reading and other spiritual practices. Additionally, the Secular Franciscan Order is committed to working for peace, justice and the protection of God’s creation, and encourages its members to be active in promoting these values in their communities.

The Role of the Secular Franciscan Order in the Catholic Church

The Secular Franciscan Order is an important part of the Catholic Church and plays a vital role in the spiritual and social life of the Church. The Secular Franciscan Order is recognized by the Church as a form of consecrated life, and its members are considered to be lay people who live in the world and are dedicated to following the example of St. Francis of Assisi.

The Secular Franciscan Order is governed by a set of rules and regulations, and is led by elected leaders who are responsible for the spiritual and practical needs of the community. Additionally, the Secular Franciscan Order is involved in many important projects and initiatives, including efforts to promote peace, justice and the protection of God’s creation, and to assist the poor and marginalized in society.

Becoming a Member of the Secular Franciscan Order

Becoming a member of the Secular Franciscan Order is a serious commitment and requires a deep commitment to living a life of simplicity, peace and love in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi.

A Call Within A Call

A Call Within A Call
By Kathleen Carsten, OFS

“I have called you by your name.
‘You are mine because you are precious in my eyes,
you are honored and I love you’.”
Isaiah 43: 1b, 4

Just maybe, you are already professed, maybe for decades, but then again, maybe for just a year. Perhaps you are seemingly satisfied in your call as a Secular Franciscan, yet maybe your spirit is a little restless. Is it possible that God’s voice has gone absent—or, thankfully, is the Holy Spirit quietly, gently, yet persistently nudging you to consider to go deeper? Perhaps the inspiration came at a fraternity gathering, or maybe reading an article in the Tau magazine, or something a person said to you. Perhaps you really can’t describe to others the “bump”, the “knowing”, or the Grace that the Holy Spirit is giving you, or once again calling you.

I was professed in August of 2015—just the beginnings of my life as an official Franciscan (but between you and me, it started a long, long time ago). There was and still is so much for me to learn about our Franciscan Charism! It wasn’t long after my profession that I was asked if I would consider the position as Formation Minister for my fraternity. I said, “yes.” The fraternity voted, and I was in! I was a bit overwhelmed, but I fortunately had, and still do, two great mentors on the formation team.

There is nothing, for me, like teaching, especially in my new life as a Franciscan to enrich my knowledge about Francis, Clare, and our professed life; and that’s exactly what is happening for me as Formation Minister. I love it! But something happened along the way. I attended a Regional gathering and in that time, there came a presentation followed by an invitation.

It wasn’t an invitation written to me with my name on it; nobody came to me personally and said, “this is for you.” Oh no, this was different. You see, our Region needs Spiritual Assistants, and there was a presentation depicting the importance of Spiritual Assistants and their life in the Franciscan movement. Up to this moment, I thought that this was a role only for the First Order and TOR. I thought wrong. I was delighted with possibility; however, six months went by.

October was here in no time, and we came together for the Regional Formation gathering. What a great occasion to see my Franciscan brothers and sisters. We have opportunity to build relationships and Franciscan understanding, but also learn what is needed in the Order. Once again, I heard the need for Spiritual Assistants in our Region. I received the silent yet stirring invitation to submit my name to the roster of interested Franciscans.

I submitted my application for the Spiritual Assistant program. I was accepted and given the study/reading assignments and timetable of our meetings. March 2017 came, and we met in Saginaw for a weekend for what I will say would be the next most moving venture for me as a Franciscan.

As we shared our reasons for being present, I had to tell my brothers and sisters that I love my work as a Formation Minister. However, I knew that I would and I wanted to learn so much more about our Franciscan charism; yet, there was a deeper purpose for my presence. I fell in love with my brothers and sisters who were present. Do you know what I mean when I say there was a connection between all of us? We shared our experiences, even when difficult and we asked lots of questions. It was fraternity at a very deep level, and we had just met!

What do I say to you? I invite you to consider the “Call within a Call.” St. Teresa of Calcutta, on a train journey from Calcutta to Darjeeling, received what she named the “call within a call,” which founded the Missionaries of Charity family of Sisters, Brothers, Fathers, and Co-Workers. Our life as Franciscans is a dynamic life; never ending in the pursuit of perfect joy and unswerving call to action.

You are invited. You are called.

YouFra (Franciscan Youth) in Detroit, Documenting the Journey


Peace be with you as we continue to celebrate the Feast of St. Francis,

Sisters and brothers I want to keep you informed of our efforts to create a YouFra group in Detroit.

In the past months, the Troubadours of St. Clare Fraternity has been in dialogue with the Pastor of Nativity of our Lord Parish and St. Charles Borromeo Parish Brother Ray Stadmeyer, OFM Cap, as well as Nativity of our Lord Parish DRE Joni Scott regarding the feasibility of engaging the parish youth/young adults in Franciscanism, if there is such a word. We have had several meetings that have born much fruit. This past weekend in celebration of the Feast of St. Francis I spoke to the parish about the possibility of creating a youth group. It was well received.

Some important details that determined our point of beginning.

  • The parish is in an impoverished neighborhood.
  • The parish is led by a Franciscan Friar that supports the effort.
  • The parish DRE also supports the effort.
  • We have a Fraternity member (Jerry Alderman OFS) that is active in the parish. Jerry did all the up front leg work with the pastor and DRE.

Method of introduction

  • Dialogue with the Pastor (for many months – almost a year)
  • Dialogue with the DRE (for many months)
  • Joint meeting with all parties involved to develop a plan of action.

o   Step 1 – Introduction to community

  • I spoke at the Liturgy  that highlighted the Feast of St. Francis, extending an invitation to the parish.
  • I spoke to those interested after that same mass (at a dinner reception) to explain our intentions and YouFra.
  • The DRE and Franciscan Member of parish talked to young people 14 – 18
  • They signed up 5 young people wanting to participate.

o   Step 2 – Our Plan

  • Supplement the Parish DRE teaching element with an action plan for the youth.
  • Bi monthly we (Troubadours) will gather with the DRE and young people.
  • After their normal religious instruction, we will engage the young people in an activity.
  • October 30 – the Youfra group will host a flash picnic for the community surrounding their parish, grilling hotdogs and serving those in need.
  • December – The Youfra group will travel to downtown Detroit and work with Kathleen Carsten, OFS, St. Aloysius Outreach, delivering groceries to the impoverished seniors.
  • February – The Youfra group will visit St. Bonaventure’s clothing warehouse and work sorting clothing for distribution to the poor.
  • Other activities involving targeted Franciscan efforts to serve the poor will be scheduled for the remainder of the year.
  • After each activity we will gather together for 15 minutes and discuss what we did, what was experienced, and how it relates to our Franciscan charism.

o   Step 3 – The Future

  • It is our hope that over the next year we will attract more young people
  • In one year we will expand this program from Nativity of our Lord Parish to St. Charles Borromeo Parish.
  • We will not work to create a second group but join the youth from the two parishes into a single entity.
  • Over the next 3 to 4 years work to create an active self-led Youfra group modeled on the NAFRA YouFra model.
  • Develop OFS Spiritual Assistance to walk with them and the Parish DRE’s


This winter we have been invited to speak to the DRE’s belonging to the Archdiocese of Detroit – Renaissance Vicariate at one of their major gatherings about the Secular Franciscan Order & Franciscan Ministries Inc. It is the wish of the DRE’s to work with The Troubadours of St. Clare Fraternity and Franciscan Ministries Inc.  to create a model of ministry for young adults 18 – 34 that they can own (YouFra) that will reach across parish boundaries, that will engage young adults in ministry with the poor.

Wonderful Possibilities await us as we move forward together.

Wishing you Peace,


He approached in tears!

Kathy (my wife) and I were heading out the office  this morning  When we noticed again an ambulance sitting with its lights on at the corner of State and Washington Blvd. In the past couple weeks we have seen this several times–in the past few years more times than I can count. We cannot help but wonder and worry about the situation at hand and so often the news we get is not good.

Today the news was not good. About an hour after the ambulance left we were out on the street in front of the church  when Sam pulled up on his bicycle tears streaming down his face. “My Wife she just died!” he exclaimed. I am on my way to the hospital. “She is  gone”. He was still seated on his bycicle so all  I could do was reach out and hold his shoulder. Kathy and I struggled to control our own emotions. The work we do is not easy. We love the people we serve. They are our family and this winter and spring we have lost many members of our family to Sister Death.

In the next couple days and beyond we will be with Sam as he grieves for his wife.

Pax et Bonumthe-buddhas-cremation-at-kusinara



“Creating an opportunity of encounter”

This past Sunday, the Troubadours of St. Clare Fraternity spent the day in service to the poor, serving a meal at St. Charles Borromeo Parish on Detroit’s east side. It is always an interesting adventure. The Parish volunteers flow in and out of the kitchen as the meal is being prepared. The kitchen, by the way, is a transformed classroom with old blackboards still hanging in place behind the freezers.  The lasagna is placed in the oven, salads are tossed and refrigerated, and dessert cakes are cut and made ready.


After mass, the good people come down to the basement and are seated waiting for grace to be said prior to the meal.

As the people filter into the seating area there is a loud voice shouting to any and all that might break the rules “TAKE OFF YOUR HAT”. It is extremely disruptive to hear and not very welcoming. It reminds me of an experience I had at the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi a short time ago. As I wandered in amazement looking at the frescoes on the ceilings and walls, there was a friar seated in a place of authority using a microphone within the sacred space saying, “SILENCIO-SILENCIO”. I guess he wanted silence in the Basilica and yet he was making much more noise keeping everybody quiet than the pilgrims were making as they wandered the basilica in awe of Giotto’s work! The friar had a job to do and by heaven he was going to do it. The same could be said for the help at St. Charles–yelling across the room for the one or two people that wandered in out of the cold rain to take off their hats–that was their job. They had the authority and by golly they were going to use it. I, however, found the events in both locations disconcerting. unwelcoming, and an obstacle to intimacy and relationship.

All the while,  everyone was being seated and grace was quickly said. A line was formed and the people were fed. For our part, we did what we were asked to do, exactly how we were asked to do it;  yet there was something missing for me. The long serving table created a dividing point, a barrier. We were on one side of the table and they (the guests) were on the other.  There was no opportunity for dialogue and relationship–not much time even for a smile to be shared.  We were not able to be brother and sister one to another. In fact, when we were done serving, we (the fraternity) took our food into the kitchen and sat and ate together. Again we were separated from the people, within a walled space. All in all, it was a very sanitized experience. These were for the most part our sisters and brothers that had just left the Table of the Lord having received his body and blood. We could have gone out and sat with those we were serving, but it did not happen. In this regard, we as a fraternity have some work to do. Yes we served/fed the hungry. But we failed to step through our own isolation, failed to step through the walls that were created to maintain order and break bread. We did not celebrate; we were not Eucharist with the people that were present.

Did we actually  fail at anything?  No not really!

It was a wonderful and enjoyable experience. We as a fraternity are continuing to step out of our comfort zones. Trying to give life and action to our  vocation. With a bit more experience and a little more help, we will be able to go out to the people and “break bread” with them, quoting Pope Francis, “Creating an opportunity of encounter”.

From our Rule of Life

Article 13

AS the Father sees in every person the features of his Son, the firstborn of many brothers and sisters, so the secular Franciscans with a gentle and courteous spirit accept all people as a gift of the Lord and an image of Christ.

Article 19

Mindful that they are bearers of peace which must be built up unceasingly, they should seek out ways of unity and fraternal harmony through dialogue, trusting in the presence of the divine seed in everyone and in the transforming power of love and pardon.

Messengers of perfect joy in every circumstance, they should strive to bring joy and hope to others…..

With great joy we will struggle to do this alone and this ministry  most certainly cannot be accomplished in fraternal  isolation, behind any kind of barrier (table) that separates us. Putting a serving of lasagna on a plate is a good  beginning. But it is only a first step in a journey of  admitting and overcoming our own  fear, distrust, and prejudice. To be truly alive,  truly loving and caring, we must continue to step out into the unknown as we seek  “To encounter the living and active person of Christ in our brothers and sisters….” (Article 5, Rule of Life).  This is our call to conversion and a continuing challenge, becoming people joyfully recognizing and encountering our God in each other and in our sisters and brothers.


Picking and Choosing


“The English word ‘heresy’ comes from the Greek verb hairein, which means ‘to choose’.  A hairesis originally meant, quite simply, the taking of a choice.” However in the context of religious authority and tradition, a “heretic” is someone who denies this authority  and instead “picks and chooses” from the content of that tradition, and again, according to Berger “from these pickings and choosings” constructs his or her own deviant opinion.

Today, however, deviance is the rule-there is no common standard from which one would deviate.

The point is that, in the modern context, far from being an anomaly, heresy becomes the norm- a necessity, even, as “modernity creates a new situation in which picking and choosing becomes an imperative.” [Ecumenical Trends Magazine – January 2015]

What I quoted from the Ecumenical Trends Magazine  was not written about the OFS (Ordo Franciscanus Saecularis). In fact it has nothing to do directly with the OFS.  It did get me thinking.  In many ways it describes my own personal journey and experience serving on the local, regional, and national levels of fraternity within the OFS. First thoughts? We are a people that like to “pick and choose.” In fact,  for some of us, the very process of becoming a Franciscan is an act of discernment, of “picking and choosing”.

Within Catholicism, there are two main theologies that have been passed onto us from the middle ages:

The primary Theology adopted by the Church (i.e. The Work of the Dominican School) and the Alternate Theology in the Church, (i.e. The Franciscan School)

I am not speaking here of Spiritualities, of which there are many fine paths that can lead us to experience God. I am speaking only of the  foundations in theology that give rise to the many varied and equally excellent approaches to God (spiritualities).  [OFS For Up to Now Manual (FUN); Understanding Franciscan Theology Tradition and Spirituality pg 3]

For decades now, I have  personally experienced  brokenness within the order both locally, regionally, and internationally. We are in need of healing.  One of the areas of brokenness that we need to heal is our lack of a cohesive and consistent understanding of who we are as a people and what our Franciscan charism is.  There seems still to be a rejection of our theology or at least a major lack of understanding across a wide spectrum of  individuals that make up the OFS. Not only are we not yet able to share a “common standard” of understanding about what it means to be a secular Franciscan in the world today, we seem to struggle to recognize a “common standard” of understanding of what it means to be Catholic. The tension this creates within fraternal life keeps us from truly being brother and sister, one to another.  All of this is exacerbated by our individual participation in the political culture wars that permeate our religious experience and the seeming tribal effect of our participation in digital/social media.

Recently I had the honor and privilege serving NAFRA (OFS-National Fraternity-USA) on a couple of committees. It was a great joy for me, yet there was often present a dynamic of tension. How can we as a people possibly support and become active participants in the OFS, let alone any of the Committees  (i.e. ‘Ecumenical and Interfaith’ and the ‘Joint Committee for Franciscan Unity’) if even a little part of what I have experienced is true? I can see why many would not even believe these committees are necessary given the lack of a “common standard” of understanding of our faith and our Franciscan charism?

Yes, I just might be a “heretic”. Yes, in the “picking and choosing” involved in the process of discerning my vocation, I have realized and intentionally chosen the Franciscan path. However, rather than “constructing my own deviant opinion” as a Professed Franciscan, I accept and live my life following an “Alternate Theology” within Catholicism.  Because of my choices and especially as I navigate my own brokenness as well as the brokenness of my sisters and brothers,  I  experience a certain tension and lack of acceptance sometimes outright rejection within my  OFS family.

The only solution before me is love.  I  do recognize my own brokenness as part of the problem and as I reflect, I take upon myself the thoughts and words of Benedetto Lino, OFS, who authored a study on Secular Franciscan Formation titled “What is Christian Formation and in particular Formation For Us Secular Franciscans.” (Benedetto served for years as the CIOFS [Council International of the Ordo Franciscanus Saecularis]  International Formation Minister)

I must “Start Afresh From Christ”

I must “open my soul to Christ”

I must “encounter the living person of Jesus Christ”

I must enter into “a true conversion-transformation towards a Christ-shaped existence”

I must seek out and enter into “a true personal relationship with Jesus Christ”

I must be “transformed into a new creature”

I must “Experience the ‘vibrant excitement’ and the ’emotion’ to stand before the mystery of such a wonderful condescendence’, to the point of giving myself up and to adhere totally to the Lord.”…..

“The first element in the vocational process of Saint Francis ……is the PERSONAL EXPERIENCE OF HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS CHRIST, a relationship which is characterized by radicality, totality and permanence. …..”

“The flame and this warmth can be received only by those who want them and render themselves open to the action of the Spirit and to the living transmission of authentic and credible witnesses….”

“Francis, like a new Christ, inflamed his companions, his fellow-citizens, the people of his time and he continues to set the world on fire, just like Jesus’ first disciples.”

“We, too, must “set the world on fire”, dear brothers and sisters, and to do so we need ‘true faith, certain hope, perfect love, deep humility, sense and knowledge, that we may carry out the Lord’s holy and true command’,  exactly as Francis asked the Crucifix, after He had revealed to him his mission.”

“We must multiply and, by living contact, we must transmit, form, and inflame.”



United by their vocation as “brothers and sisters of penance,” and motivated by the dynamic power of the gospel, let them conform their thoughts and deeds to those of Christ by means of that radical interior change which the gospel itself calls  “conversion.” Human frailty makes it necessary that this conversion be carried out daily……  [Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order; article VII]


Let me begin again for up to now I have done nothing.

And you?

Pax et bonum






As we enter into Holy Week my thoughts turn to Good Friday and the words of Jesus as he was dying on the cross.

“Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Mt. 27: 46

What does it mean to be “Forsaken”? Can we even imagine how this feels?

In the time of Francis one group of “Forsaken”  were the lepers. A group of people whose very identity was officially erased. They were the “disappeared” of their day. The very act to remove them from society was an official act of the Church with a proper Ritual.

The Mass of Separation

The mass, spoken by a priest, was performed at the site of the leper’s hut. The whole parish accompanied a newly identified leper to his/her new home [outside the city walls] as the priest performed the mass.

I forbid you to ever enter a church, a monastery, a fair, a mill, a market or an     assembly of people.

I forbid you to leave your house unless dressed in your recognizable garb and also shod.

I forbid you to wash your hands or to launder anything or to drink at any stream or fountain, unless using your own barrel or dipper.

I forbid you to touch anything you buy or barter for, until it becomes your own.

I forbid you to enter any tavern; and if you wish for wine, whether you buy it or it is given to you,  have it funneled into your keg.

I forbid you to share house with any woman but your wife.

I command you, if accosted by anyone while travelling on a road, to set yourself down-wind of them before you answer.

I forbid you to enter any narrow passage, lest a passerby bump into you.

I forbid you, wherever you go, to touch the rim or the rope of a well without donning our gloves.

I forbid you to touch any child or give them anything.

I forbid you to drink or eat from any vessel but your own.

Martene’s DeAntiquis Ecclesiae Ritibus, “Ordo I” , quoted. in Martinus cawley, “The Life of Alice the Leper and the Silver Age of Villers,” Cistercian Scholars Quarterly

It was from this lived experience of the removal of society of the “forsaken” that we read from the Testament of Francis:

The Lord gave me, brother Francis, to begin to do penance in this way: While I was in sin, it seemed excessively bitter to me to see lepers.  And the Lord himself led me among them and I did mercy with them. And when I left them that which seemed bitter to me had been changed into sweetness of spirit and the body; and afterward I lingered a little and left the world. [of Assisi]

Who are the “Forsaken” of today? Who do we not want to look at or not want to see? Who are we keeping outside of the walls of our communities? How are we as Secular (Lay) Franciscans  responding?

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