A couple of months ago we mentioned that there would be some upcoming articles focusing on Project Joseph and on our family, the Franciscans of Life. The former we addressed in April. Today we continue this “mini series” by answering the question…
Who Are The Franciscans Of Life?
The Franciscans of Life is a private association of Catholic laymen who are celibate, singler, or married. It is the hope of the society to become a public association of the faithful someday, maybe an institute of mixed life, where regular and secular meet.
We exist with the permission and blessing of the Archbishop of Miami, the Most Reverend Thomas Wenski. Men from six countries, four language groups and three generations make up the fraternity.
We attempt to replicate that brotherhood that grew up around Saint Francis of Assisi in the thirteenth century, where there were friars, nuns, married men and women, diocesan priests, widows and single people who followed the Gospel according to the Rule of Penance written by Saint Francis. Today, our fraternity is comprised of men only. There are “regular” brothers who live the evangelical counsels in private vows and “extern” brothers who live the evangelical counsels as single or married men.
Our Way of Life
The Franciscans of Life make a covenant to live the Gospel according to the Rule of Penance and the constitutions of the society. Every brother, celibate, single, or married is a full member of the fraternity. Therefore, each one binds himself to observe obedience to the Church and the superior of the fraternity, to live a life of detachment from material things and temporal honors, and to persevere in chastity in the celibate, single, or married life.
While all of the brothers in Franciscans of Life are lay and secular, we use the term “extern” to identify those brothers who are married or single and hoping to marry, and the term “regular” to identify those brothers who live in community, are in private vows and are celibate.
Eucharist, Liturgy of the Hours, private prayer, fasting and abstinence are the guiding lights for the brothers. Fraternity is a hallmark of Franciscan tradition. Therefore, the brothers look to Christ and the apostles and endeavor to follow that model of fraternal life and service.
Common prayer, sharing, openness to each other, our families, and support for each other along the journey toward the perfection of charity are the means by which the brothers sanctify their lives and the lives of those they touch. The brothers are faithful and obedient to the Catholic Church as she speaks to us through the successor of Peter and the local bishop.
The mission of the fraternity is to proclaim the Gospel of Life through service to the voiceless, in particular the preborn child and his family, the terminally ill and the elderly, the immigrant poor who feels hopeless, and the person living with disabilities.
The brothers engage in a variety of apostolic activities in the Archdiocese of Miami. These include catechesis, campus ministry, Respect Life, prayer vigils at abortion mills, and serving fathers in crisis pregnancies through Project Joseph. Other apostolates are hospice and linking immigrant poor with community resources.
The invisible dimension of the brothers’ mission is a life of atonement for those who embrace the culture of death.
The extern brothers live in the secular world, but are not of the world. They are husbands, fathers, and single men. The fraternity is also open to deacons and diocesan priests who have the permission of their bishop to join.
These brothers hold typical jobs in the world and belong to different parishes in the Archdiocese. However, they come together with each other and the regular brothers at the weekly family meeting, liturgical functions, prayer, and apostolic activities.
Those who are husbands and fathers include their spouses and children in as many of the fraternal activities as possible. In this way, the Franciscan spirit is carried into the family and the family is embraced by the fraternity.
The extern brothers and their families engage in the proclamation of the Gospel of Life through participation in activities that promote the sanctity of life.
These brothers live in community under the leadership of a superior. They make private vows of obedience, poverty and chastity and are celibate for life.
None of the brothers owns anything individually or in common. They rent their home, share their material resources, and work to provide for their material needs as prescribed by Saint Francis in his Testament. When the income is not enough, the brothers beg as did the early Franciscans.
The daily life of these brothers is comprised of prayer, apostolic service to the voiceless, study, and labor that generates enough income to support the brothers and their work for the poor.
Under the guidance and encouragement of a superior also known as a guardian, the brothers strive to live as a family where brother serves brother as Christ served the apostles when he washed their feet at the Last Supper. These brothers spend a great deal of time together at prayer, work, ministry, study, recreation and rest.
Like Saint Francis and the first generation Franciscans, the Franciscans of Life look to the Trinity for guidance and example in community, intimacy, love, unity and holiness.
Saint Maximilian Kolbe and Saint John Paul II are the patrons of the Franciscans of Life. From these saints we learn to live under the mantle of the Immaculate and to protect the sanctity of life from conception to death.
“Vita ad vitam vocat…”
Prayerfully consider whether the Lord is inviting you to walk the way with us. In doing so, bear in mind the sayings of our patron saints: “Do not be afraid…forget not love!”
We look forward to hearing from you!