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.
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
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.
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.