The Secular Franciscan Order, formerly known as the Third Order of St. Francis, is an official Order within the Catholic Church, established by St. Francis of Assisi early in the thirteenth century. By profession, Secular Franciscans promise to follow a Rule of Life approved and confirmed by Pope Paul VI in June of 1978.
Ordinarily, Secular Franciscans do not live in community; rather, we live with our families and perform our jobs out in the world, gathering in fraternities on a regular basis. In these fraternities the brothers and sisters, led by the Spirit, strive for ongoing daily conversion, to turn away from sin and to be faithful to the Gospel. We seek, with and only with God's grace, perfect charity in our secular state, helping one another in this journey closer to Christ, following in the footsteps of Sts. Francis and Clare.
The SFO in the United States is structured into 30 geographic regions; the Minister of each Region is a member of the National Fraternity Council. The National Fraternity is represented at the International level by an International Councilor. Worldwide, there are approximately 700 local fraternities with approximately 14,500 professed members. Each fraternity has a Spiritual Assistant, who is usually a First Order, or Third Order Regular, Friar, but could be a religious, diocesan clergy, or a certified lay Secular Franciscan.
To find a local fraternity or learn more about the Secular Franciscan Order please visit the National Secular Franciscan website: http://www.nafra-sfo.org