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Chapter III
Life In Fraternity
  • The Secular Franciscan Order is divided into fraternities of various levels--local, regional, national, and international. Each one has its own moral personality in the Church. These various fraternities are coordinated and united according to the norm of this rule and of the constitutions.

  • On various levels, each fraternity is animated and guided by a council and minister (or president) who are elected by the professed according to the constitutions.

 Their service, which lasts for a definite period, is marked by a ready and willing spirit and is a duty of responsibility to each member and to the community.

 Within themselves the fraternities are structured in different ways according to the norm of the constitutions, according to the various needs of their members and their regions, and under  the guidance of their respective council.
 

  • The local fraternity is to be established canonically. It becomes the basic unit of the whole Order and a visible sign of the Church, the community of love. This should be the privileged place for developing a sense of Church and the Franciscan vocation and for enlivening the apostolic life of its members.
 
  •  Requests for admission to the Secular Franciscan Order must be presented to the local  fraternity, whose council decides upon the acceptance of new brothers and sisters.
 Admission into the Order is gradually attained through a time of initiation, a period of  formation of at least one year, and profession of the rule. The entire community is engaged in this process of growth by its own manner of living. The age for profession and the distinctive
Franciscan sign are regulated by the statutes.

     Profession by its nature is a permanent commitment.

 Members who find themselves in particular difficulties should discuss their problems with the council in fraternal dialogue.

 Withdrawal or permanent dismissal from the Order, if necessary, is an act of the fraternity council according to the norm of the constitutions.
 

  •  To foster communion among members, the council should organize regular and frequent meetings of the community as well as meeting with other Franciscan groups, especially with youth groups. It should adopt appropriate means for growth in Franciscan and ecclesial life and encourage everyone to a life of fraternity. This communion continues with deceased brothers and sisters through prayer for them.
 
  •  Regarding expenses necessary for the life of the fraternity and the needs of worship, of the apostolate, and of charity, all the brothers and sisters should offer a contribution according to their means. Local fraternities should contribute toward the expenses of the higher fraternity councils.
 
  • As a concrete sign of communion and coresponsibility, the councils on various levels, in keeping with the constitutions, shall ask for suitable and well-prepared religious for spiritual assistance. They should make this request to the superiors of the four religious Franciscan  families, to whom the Secular Fraternity has been united for centuries.

     To promote fidelity to the charism as well as observance of the rule and to receive greater support in the life of the fraternity, the minister or president, with the consent of the council,  should take care to ask for a regular pastoral visit by the competent religious superiors as well as for a fraternal visit from those of the higher fraternities, according to the norm of the constitutions.
 

  

Blessing of St. Francis (1226):
May whoever observes all this be filled
 in heaven with the blessing of the most high Father,
 and on earth with that of his beloved Son,
  together with the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.