Bro Donal writes...
At various times in our life, we may ponder on how we follow Jesus as a baptised Catholic, whatever be our options in life. The time of the Coronavirus and subsequent lockdown, thinking of what to do in life for work and study, may give us all ample opportunities to reflect on our vocation(s). One such a calling could be towards the Religious and consecrated life, service in the Church as a priest, a committed single person, and the wonderful vocation of marriage. Reflecting on our vocation may take some time, and this is true for discerning a Religious vocation from the many Religious Communities one may consider.
We Franciscans are one of many such Religious Orders in the Catholic Church. We follow Jesus as male and female baptised adult Catholics, ether as consecrated Religious in vows or as a secular Franciscan, single or married. For those who are called and make a life-time commitment as a Franciscan Religious with a way of life based on community, prayer, and service. For Franciscan Friars living this vocation as Brothers, inspired by the life and spirituality of St Francis of Assisi, and live the Gospel of Jesus Christ as a Fraternity or Brotherhood in Mission. We devote our lives to a way of life that has existed for 800 years but is as still relevant today in a mission of serving the Church and world as Brothers in a wide variety of ministries and activities. Indeed, whether one is an ordained brother as a priest or not, all brothers live in the same equal way in and out of the Franciscan Friary doing many and varied activities as servants of God and others.
Franciscans in their thousands, male and female, religious and secular, are found throughout the world. Our own branch of the Order, the Friars Minor – O.F.M. - are located in 120 countries in an international brotherhood of some 13,000 friars. There are many young Franciscans in various stages of formation in these countries. This may not be the case in some regions of the world, including the western and parts of Europe, but it is still a sign of positive hope that overall in the world, we Franciscans are numerous, responding to this call to live as best as we can the Franciscan way of life.Just as St Francis had a desire to follow Jesus Christ in a consecrated life, all Franciscans today strive to do the same. Like him, we try to share the “Good News” of Jesus to others. This witness to Christ is done in countless varied ways by thousands of Franciscans at home and in mission countries abroad. This evangelisation is carried out in Church and Society, by established Church and non-church service as Franciscans who minister in wide areas of activities, using the gifts given by God for the good of the Church and people.
Through a life of prayer, simple brotherhood, varied service, we continue to seek God in our everyday world and foster and enhance God’s creation in and through us and to others on our journey in life. As Pope Francis (who chose “Francis” as his name and model when he became Pope) said, “Francis of Assisi – for me – is the man of poverty, who loves and protects creation, giving us the spirit of peace, asking us to build peace in ourselves and others”.
In this same spirit of St Francis, we Franciscans are dedicated to sharing the Gospel of Christ by serving the poor and marginalised, promoting justice, peace, and the care of creation.