Secular Franciscan Order

Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis

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Press release

Michel Versteegh, a Secular Franciscan from the Netherlands, invited the capitulars today to reflect on the daily life of the Secular Franciscan.

While a cardio-vascular surgeon by profession, he finds time to serve the OFS at its different levels.  At the beginning of his speech, Michel offered a life testimony based on the fact that others (patients, colleagues, family, siblings) are truly people.

But Michel didn’t stop there.  He went further, offering ten keys that can and should help Secular Franciscans face personal and fraternity challenges in daily living, and even the much-desired global management of the Order.

The first of these keys is formation, starting at the moment when we first welcome a brother or a sister. This gives rise to other key elements such as valuing testimonies, seeking and accepting one's talents, perseverance, commitment, prayer, giving value to others, always remembering our roots, being reborn every day and bringing God to everything that happens in life.

In short, it was a presentation that delved into the theme of the Chapter - "As you have sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world" (Jn 17.18) - that has been very well received by the capitulars.

Subsequent group work and dialogue with the speaker, reinforced the importance of the fraternal welcome and the encounter with the brother/sister. Together with formation, these can help the brothers and sisters identify their own talents and later put them at the service of the fraternity as a part of the team.

The international councilors also placed their focus on the importance of the family as the nucleus of the Secular Franciscan life and of the daily conversion of the person.


Rome, November 6, 2017

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«We were gentle among you, as a nursing mother cares for her children» (1 Thess 2, 7).

Dear Brothers and Sisters of the Secular Franciscan Order, these words of Saint Paul, heard in the second reading, outline one of the most picturesque images to express the Gospel proclamation with that very solicitude typical of a mother who cares not only of the material good but also of the spiritual one of her children. God's Word, in fact, leads people to Christ and is the most necessary for growth in faith.

You too, according to your lay vocation within the Church, are committed to announcing and witnessing the Gospel, dedicating you to the apostolate in the form of fraternity inspired by the charism of Saint Francis. Therefore, the description of the Christian mission that the Apostle presents through the maternal image is also addressed to you. 

There is a difference between this maternal image of the apostolate and that which emerges in the other two readings, marked by sharp and severe warnings. They are addressed to the priests of the Old Covenant, to the scribes, to the pharisees, but indicate the risks that are always lurking even in the lay apostolate.

Press Briefing

73 chapter members began work today at the 15th General Chapter of the OFS. The Chapter opened yesterday with Mass presided over by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

The Chapter comes half-way through the present sexennial (2014 – 2020), an opportunity for the international OFS fraternity to review the situation of the Order at its different levels, while assessing progress in the implementation of current priorities and objectives.

In his homily, Cardinal Parolin exhorted Secular Franciscans to be “more closely united to Christ”, since this was “the essential foundation of any apostolic community and vision, as well as the guarantee that pastoral planning will be effective”.

The opening celebrations continued today with Mass presided over by Fr. Michael Perry, the OFM Minister General, who spoke of the need for “leadership based on identity, on the experience of Jesus”, but which at the same time must be “dynamic, relational and create partnerships”.

The work of reviewing the state of the Order began with presentation of various Reports. Tibor Kauser, Minister General of the OFS, recognized that the number of Secular Franciscans is declining, and warned that “we cannot deny the problem of lack of interest and failure to promote the OFS and Jufra”, although “we also see many encouraging signs in many national fraternities”.

In his turn, Fr. Amando Trujillo, President of the Conference of General Spiritual Assistants (CAS), highlighted “the incorporation of the Assistants in the work of the Presidency”, and pointed to a number of challenges needing attention, such as “the lack of knowledge of the identity and mission of the OFS among many Franciscan friars”.

The 15th Chapter is being held at a specially emotional time, being the 25th anniversary of the death of Manuela Mattioli, the first Minister General of the OFS. 

Rome, November 5, 2017

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