The process of becoming a professed Secular Franciscan is a journey that involves three separate stages and culminates in a lifelong commitment to live the gospel following the example of St. Francis of Assisi. This formation process unfolds in scheduled sessions with a formation instructor, during which home study material is thoroughly discussed.
During this time, you locate a group of Secular Franciscans (known as a “fraternity”), and are introduced to those Franciscans and their lifestyle; read a little about Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi; and pray. You get to know the people in the fraternity so that you can begin to experience life in community, and so the community can experience you.
You read about Francis and Clare because they founded the Franciscan family. You pray primarily by opening your heart to God.
During this time, you continue to get to know the fraternity better, and they get to know you better; you are involved in formal instruction about the Franciscan way of life; you begin to hold yourself life up to the Gospels and the Franciscan vocation and look for overlap; and you pray.
At this point, both you and the fraternity have recognized that you share the Secular Franciscan vocation and your formal instruction continues. You practice living the Gospel in a Franciscan way, in simplicity and joy; you participate in further instruction; and you pray.
These last two steps — Inquiry and Candidacy — are what is usually termed “initial formation.” After completing Candidacy, you make a permanent Profession of the Rule, and join the rest of the fraternity in “ongoing formation”.
“Profession is the solemn ecclesial act by which the candidate, remembering the call received from Christ, renews the baptismal promises and publicly affirms his or her personal commitment to live the Gospel in the world according to the example of Francis and following the Rule of the OFS. Profession incorporates the candidate into the Order and is by its nature a perpetual commitment.” (General Constitutions, Article 42:1-2)
For more information on the Secular Franciscan Order, email vocations @ ilsfo.org (remove spaces).