“The Secular Franciscan Order holds a special place in this (Franciscan) family circle. It is an organic union of all Catholic fraternities scattered throughout the world and open to every group of the faithful. In these fraternities the brothers and sisters, led by the Spirit, strive for perfect charity in their own secular state. By their profession they pledge themselves to live the gospel in the manner of St. Francis (of Assisi) by means of this rule approved by the Church” (Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order, Art. 2)
“The Secular Franciscan Order is divided into fraternities of various levels-local, regional, national, and international. Each one has its own moral personality in the Church. These various fraternities are coordinated and united according to the norm of this rule and the constitutions.
On various levels, each fraternity is animated and guided by a council and minister (or president) who are elected by the professed according to the constitutions.” (Rule OFS, Art. 20-21)
When the Secular Franciscan Order was first established in 1221, it was a movement that was lead by laypersons, elected by the professed members. As time went on, for various reasons, the Franciscan Friars began to exercise more authority over the movement. The Order was divided among the First Orders’ provinces. After the Second Vatican Council, with its directive for religious orders to rediscover their roots and charism, the Seculars took a new look at their founding history and documents. A renewal took place; the various worldwide OFS fraternities were united under one Minister General and international council. Nationally and regionally, fraternities were united, governed by their own elected ministers and councils, with guidance from Franciscan friars and sisters.
On October 17th, representatives from the regional fraternities gathered in Clinton, New Jersey, in a Chapter of Elections. The results being that Jan Parker, OFS, is our new National Minister. The names of the rest of the National Executive Council are available at this link. Through the intercession of St. Francis, may God bless them with wisdom, charity, and inspiration, which will guide us well in coming years.