OFS Vocation Discernment & Formation
HOW TO DISCOVER GOD’S PLAN FOR YOU!
The primary goal of those entrusted with the responsibility of admissions to our way of life
is discovering the will of God. While we desire to promote vocations and grow in numbers,
we avoid what is popularly known as recruitment”. Vocational work is ultimately a service offered to benefit the entire Church and not towards the growth and expansion of one particular religious institution.
Discernment is a time when you pray, reflect on, and discuss your desire for vocation. It is our desire to assist serious and mature men and women in discovering that particular state in life where they can sacrifice themselves for the kingdom of God and grow holy. For most people that state of fulfillment is marriage, yet many others would find it in life as religious, clergy, or in the single state. It is during this time that you get to know the
Franciscan way of life and we get to know you.
Franciscans are people of the Gospel who follow Christ in the footsteps of Saint Francis of Assisi. Those called to the Franciscan way of life, have found the peace and joy which comes from discovering and doing the will of God, and the love for Christ.
Here are some of the essential elements which characterize our Franciscan way of life, and
constitute the foundation which supports and nourishes our call to holiness:
- Contemplative prayer with a focus on Lectio Divina
- Centered on the Crucifixion & Incarnation
- Lovers of the Bible & Focused on Scripture
- Pro-Life & Pro-Family
- Love for God's Creation
- A focus on living a life of simplicity & living out the virtues
- Charitable - Social Justice Conscience for the persecuted, poor & needy (i.e., the Corporal & Spiritual works of Mercy)
- Orthodox - Faithful to Church teachings & precepts
- Divine Mercy Centered
- Liturgically minded in our prayers
- Missionary - Evangelize by our words & personal witness
- Obedient & supportive of the pope, the bishops, priests & deacons in union with the Bishop of Rome
- Secular Franciscans also show their obedience & support to their superiors in the OFS at all levels
Vocational Discernment Tips:
1. Be quiet in order to hear the Lord's voice calling. Take time to pray and meditate in silence about your vocation, especially in front of the Most Blessed Sacrament.
2. If you can, find a spiritual director. This is a not a necessary requirement, but if you can, find a faithful practicing Catholic you can be open with, and can help you to develop your relationship with God, and to know yourself better.
3. Ask a Secular Franciscan about his/her journey towards the Franciscan way of life.
4. Read up on St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi another Franciscan saint.
5. Visit our fraternity during a community meeting.
6. Build a relationship with our community where you have a sense of coming home. Don't just talk the talk - walk the walk, with them as well.
7. Wait for the Lord. Discerning your vocation is a process. God's timing is always perfect - but seldom seems soon enough.
Remember, if you ASK, SEEK, and KNOCK, you may not find the vocation you thought you would…but by trying you'll certainly find out, one of the most important things in life:
For vocational information in discerning a call to the Secular Franciscan Order, contact us at the e-mail address provided at the homepage.
Our Life of Formation in the OFS:
Acceptance into the Order is attained through a time of initiation, a time of formation, and the perpetual profession of the Holy Rule.
- In Canada the minimum age for profession is 18
- Must be a Catholic in good standing and in full communion with the Catholic Church
- Must live one’s Catholic faith in season & out of season, & when there is no emergency circumstances in one's life, attend Holy Days of Obligation
- Must have received the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist)
- If married, we must receive written consent from your spouse
- Reference letter from your parish priest
- A copy of the certificates of the sacraments you have received. As a minimum, a baptismal certificate is required
The journey of formation is an on-going process of conversion, directed toward a fuller living of our Christian lives, modeled on the values of the
Franciscan life. This journey begins with entrance into the fraternity. In Article 37, 2 of our Constitution it states, “Mindful that the Holy Spirit is the principal agent of formation and always attentive to collaboration with Him, those responsible for formation are: the person seeking entrance, the entire fraternity, the council with the minister, the master of formation and the
assistant.” It continues in verse 3, “The brothers and sisters are responsible for their own formation, developing in an ever more perfect way the vocation received from the Lord. The fraternity is called to help the brothers and sisters in this journey by means of a warm welcome, prayer and example.”
The Time of Initiation and Formation:
The time of initiation is intended for the discernment of the vocation, and for the reciprocal acquaintance between the fraternity and the person interested in joining the Order. The
period should guarantee the freedom and the seriousness of entrance into the Order. Participation in the meetings is an indispensable presupposition for initiation into community prayer and fraternity life. There are 4 phases for a person to go through, before being professed into the Order. They are: Observer, Inquiry, Candidacy, and Profession.
Observer stage, is basically a time where an individual visits a fraternity to determine a possible vocation to the OFS. It is a time whereby an individual attends at least three (3) Fraternity meetings and may or may not proceed into the formation program.
The inquiry stage, is an invitation for an individual to go to fraternity meetings, for a period of six months to twelve months, in order to see if he or she has a vocation to be a Secular Franciscan. Once the visits are completed, the person interested in joining, is asked to write a formal request for admission to the Order. The letter must be submitted to the minister of the fraternity. The Council of the fraternity (which is the minister, vice-minister, secretary, treasurer and the master of formation) reviews the request through prayer. The decision is given to the person interested in joining, and to the brothers and sisters of the
The person interested in joining, once approved by the Council to proceed to formation, will be given a
formation book for study. The lessons cover Franciscan charism and history, and deepen the understanding of what it is to be a Secular
Franciscan. At the end of Inquiry, if a vocation is discerned, the Inquirer is received into the start of the formation (candidacy) program and the Rite of Admission is performed.
Candidacy stage is the final period of formation. This time period is a minimum of 12 - 36 months, and culminates into permanent commitment to the Gospel life. Having completed the time of formation, the person interested in joining, submits a written request for profession into the Order. The letter must be submitted to the minister of the fraternity, and the Council. The Council of the fraternity, through prayer, decides collegially on the request. The decision is given to the person interested in joining, and if accepted, is professed. The Rite of Profession is performed according to the Ritual.
Temporary profession, may proceed for a period of one but not to exceed three years. This is at the discretion of the Council of the day. Temporary profession is not the norm. Most people proceed to a perpetual state.
Perpetual profession is for life. Articles received during profession are a copy of the Gospels, a Crucifix, and a profession candle or ring. Once professed, a Secular Franciscan goes through ongoing formation on the life and spirituality
of St. Francis and St. Clare.