The Franciscan Order
History of the Order
It would be difficult, especially in our day of social consciousness and awareness, to find anyone who has not heard of Saint Francis of Assisi. From birdbaths to nuclear power plants, Saint Francis is an icon of peace and a protector of nature.
Francis lived in the middle of the thirteenth century. He was a man of privilege and good breeding. While he was not of noble birth, he was certainly gifted with the talents of gallantry and chivalry. His nobility was earned, both in the realm of the world of his day—fraught with anger and dissension, and in the spiritual world where God issued even stronger challenges to his worldly manner.
We know that God won the war with Francis of Assisi. We know that Francis divested himself of everything and made himself a beggar among beggars. The first followers of Francis became known, as he was—a lesser brother, a minor. So they were called, from the beginning—friars minor, lesser brothers.
Francis of Assisi is still very much an appealing character among humankind because we are still vexed, as it were, with the same problems —similar challenges. Do we serve the world? Or do we serve the Master?
Francis learned that the world was perfected through the coming of God as a human being—our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Francis found that fact to be a compelling reason to believe that there was hope for humanity. Jesus Christ has become one with us and suffered and died for us. There is hope in that kind of Redemption and there is life in His Resurrection.
Today, Franciscans continue that quest. To make known the image of hope and life that comes from faith in Jesus Christ. Pure and simple. That's the Gospel way. It's the way Francis of Assisi conquered himself and followed the invitation of Christ to give witness to the world. This is the hallmark of Franciscan life: knowing Jesus Christ and the power of His cross and resurrection in our lives.
Francis of Assisi gave up all he had, turned himself over to God, and embraced a life based on the Gospel. That style of life was so appealing that soon others joined him. These early companions Francis called "Friars," a word derived from the Latin word "frater," meaning brother. God called these friars to serve the Church in a unique way.
The Conventual Franciscan Friars are a worldwide community of priests and brothers who follow the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the spirit of their founder, St. Francis of Assisi. These friars continually strive to grow in their relationship with Jesus through a life of prayer and ministry. They invite Jesus to be with them throughout their life's journey. As members of a religious order within the Roman Catholic Church, they embrace the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.
There is hardly a place on this vast globe in which the Franciscans have not made a difference. They minister in parishes, schools, missions, and various other apostolic endeavors. As servants of God, the Conventual Franciscans are called to respond to the needs of the Church. They place their talents and skills at the service of God and their brothers and sisters throughout the world.
St. Francis and his early followers stayed together in shelters for the sake of support and prayer. Today, almost 800 years later, the Conventual Franciscan Friars continue this meaningful tradition by living in communities (called friaries). This atmosphere provides a channel where not only prayers and meals are shared, but also where the friars relate the joys, sorrows, and excitement of their lives and ministries. They find support, friendship, and encouragement from one another.
Franciscan life is a journey of faith. If you are interested in walking with us as a Conventual Franciscan Friar, please write or call the Vocation Office for further information or contact one of the friars at the Basilica of St. Josaphat.
Franciscan Vocation Office
St. Bonaventure Province
6107 N. Kenmore Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60660-2797
Telephone: (773) 764-8811