The many faces of St. Francis from the Basilica

What Is The Purpose And Mission Of The FODC?

Formed to preserve the historic Catholic Faith as the Anglican Church received it, the purpose of The Franciscan Order of the Divine Compassion is to build a Community of like-minded persons who accept Christ as their Lord and Master and are dedicated to him in body and spirit. At the taking of vows, they surrender their lives to him and to the service of his people, following closely in the footsteps and spirit of St. Francis of Assisi through the observance of the Holy Rule and a firm commitment to the Order's Credenda, the statement of belief we profess in common.

How Would You Describe Your Franciscan Way Of Life?

Living according to the form of the Holy Gospel implies that our mission is to make our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ known and loved everywhere following the examples of Saint Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi. The proper implementation of this requires adherence to our Franciscan Way of Life, some of the aspects of which are:

  • The Charism of Our Franciscan Way of Life is that the Holy Gospel becomes for us both "Rule" and "Life".
  • Adherence to our vows,
  1. For Third Order Tertiaries (FODC), this means adherence to the promises of Simplicity, Purity, and Fidelity
  2. For Oblates of St. Francis (OSF) this requires adherence to the promises of Simplicity, Purity, Fidelity and vow of Obedience (the additional vow of Chastity being optional)
  3. For Poor Clares (PSC) and Friars (FODC) the religious vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience are required
  • Exemplifying the Three Characteristics of the Order: humility, love, and joy being the three notes marking the lives of our members. Briefly stated,
  1. Humility confesses that we have nothing that we have not received and admits of our insufficiency and our dependence upon God. Showing the humility of Christ, we welcome any opportunity for humble service that may come our way, not looking for any recognition or praise.
  2. Love, meaning love for God and our neighbor that is measured by self-sacrifice. Jesus said, "I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:34-35
  3. Joy. Rejoicing in the Lord always, our members are expected to show in their lives the grace and beauty of divine joy. Mixing freely with all people and carrying within ourselves an inner peace and happiness, we are ready to help bind up the brokenhearted, and to bring joy into the lives of others.
  • The implementation of The Three Ways of Service. Jesus, the Master, took upon himself the form of a servant, coming not to be ministered unto, but to be a minister. He went about doing good, healing the sick, preaching good tidings to the poor, binding up the broken-hearted. We too, must go and do likewise, by striving to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, whom we serve through prayer, study and work. In the life of the Order as a whole these "three ways of service" must each find full and balanced expression, but it is not to be expected that all members devote themselves equally to each of them. Each member's service varies according to his or her abilities and circumstances, and yet each member's personal rule of life includes each of these three ways of service.
  • Taking into consideration the different lifestyles lived by Friars, Poor Clares, Oblates of St. Francis and Third Order Tertiaries, Franciscan spirituality is founded upon the poor and crucified Jesus Christ. The Franciscan way of life may therefore be contemplative or actively given to apostolic works pursued consistently with the demands of the times and the varying gifts of the Holy Spirit. Patterned after the Life of St. Francis, this is concretely expressed in the fraternal relationship of brother and sister closely modeled on the word of the gospel.
Why Must Each Member Of The FODC Subscribe To One Common Statement of Belief?
In Chapter 19 of his First Rule of Life, the Regula Non Bullata, St. Francis required that "All the brethren must be Catholics, living and speaking as Catholics. If anyone has wandered from the faith and the Catholic life in speech or in deed and has not amended himself, he is to be completely expelled from our fraternity." Thus, the rule St. Francis produced for his Order demanded that each aspirant thereto give evidence of whole-hearted acceptance of the Catholic religion. Then, as now, many of those whom the Church might rightly expect to be her chief supporters were disloyal or disaffected through unbelief or worldliness. All such are likely to stir up controversy. It is obvious that a religious order needs unity, and one great means of this is coherence in the faith. Thus, in obedience to the prescriptions of the Franciscan Rules and in imitation of the practice of some other Anglican Religious Communities, The Franciscan Order of the Divine Compassion has drawn up a Credenda or statement of belief to which permanent adherence is required of each one of our members as an ongoing condition of membership in this Order.

What Is The FODC's Position Regarding The Many Changes Made To The Historic Doctrine, Ministry, And Morality Of The Episcopal Church In The United States, And In Some Other Parts Of The World-Wide Anglican Communion?

Realizing that following Jesus often requires moral behavior that runs contrary to the prevailing culture of the times, our religious order rejects the widespread attempts within the Anglican Communion and elsewhere to re-create Christianity in order to accommodate contemporary fashions. We remain loyal to the traditional faith of the Catholic Creeds and the Ecumenical Councils, the Apostolic Ministry of male Bishops and Priests, and traditional Christian Biblical morality.

We affirm the text of the 1998 Lambeth Conference of Bishops' resolution on human sexuality. In keeping with that resolution, we affirm that God loves all persons, regardless of sexual orientation. However, we uphold faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman and believe that abstinence (chastity) is right for those who are not called to marriage. We cannot sanction or bless same sex unions, life partners, or active homosexual lifestyles, nor can we approve ordaining those involved.

What is the position of the FODC on the issue of women's ordination to the Sacred Priesthood of the Church?

In keeping with the testament of our Seraphic Patriarch and the Founder of the Franciscan religious movement, Blessed Francis of Assisi, The Franciscan Order of the Divine Compassion from its very foundation has consistently held to the historic and traditional understanding of the sacraments and ministry of the Church. At present, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and much of the Anglican Church still hold to the historic and traditional position of the ordination of only men to the Sacred Priesthood. Anglican traditionalists therefore, in keeping with the vast majority of Catholic Christendom, are obliged to continue to profess belief in the historic Catholic Ministry as it has been received, until such time as the universal church's mind is changed through Catholic consent on this matter. However, since we cannot be sure that this is not God's will, in our denial let us do so with charity and brotherhood.

Consistently with the Freedom Of Conscience clause of the 1998 Lambeth Conference's resolution titled Unity of the Anglican Communion, we furthermore believe that there is and should be no compulsion on any bishop in matters concerning ordination or licensing and repudiate the taking of any action against bishops who in conscience cannot ordain women to Holy Orders.

What Is The Place Given To Holy Scripture In The Life Of The FODC?

As stated in our Credenda, "We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament contain all things necessary to salvation and are the basis of authority in matters of faith, order and morals in the Church. We accept them according to that sense which the Catholic Church has held and does hold them, to whom alone it appertains to judge of the true sense and interpretation of the Holy Scriptures; neither will we ever take and interpret them otherwise than according to the consentient teaching of the ancient Fathers and the undivided Church."

We should always bear in mind that neither the Church without the Bible, nor the Bible without the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, is a guide upon which we can confidently rely.

Who Can Become A Member Of The FODC?

The Franciscan Order of the Divine Compassion, seeks to reach across the many divides in the Anglican Communion in outreach, and is open to otherwise qualified laypersons or clergy who are baptized and confirmed members in good standing of any Anglican Church Province or of a Continuing Anglican Church with valid Apostolic Succession.

What Different Vocational Opportunities Are Presently Available To Members Of The FODC?

We presently have members who are:

  • Non-Conventual Oblates of St. Francis (single and married men and women under the religious promises of Simplicity, Fidelity, Purity, and vow of Obedience (the additional vow of Chastity being optional); and
  • Third Order Tertiaries (single and married men and women under the religious promises of Simplicity, Fidelity, and Purity); and
  • Companions, who are associates of the Order not under promises or vows.
These various religious states are thus different ways of experiencing a more intimate consecration that has been rooted in Baptism and dedicated to God who is loved above all, following the pathway to complete holiness of life after the pattern of our Seraphic Father, St. Francis of Assisi. Working for the sanctification of the world, we commit ourselves to sacred bonds and observe among ourselves the communion and fellowship appropriate to our particular secular way of pursuing the "religious life". We remain open to the possible future establishment of a First Order of Friars and a Second Order of Poor Clare Nuns "living in community", as God may direct.

Does The FODC Have A Formal Training Program?

Yes we do. The present formation process consists of a postulancy and novitiate that must be successfully completed prior to achieving Holy Profession in the Order. The over-all time involved from his or her first entrance into the Order as a Postulant, until the time arrives to take Holy Profession vows is generally about 26 - 30 months, (a postulancy of approximately 6 months, and a novitiate of approximately 20 - 24 months). These formations are generally handled by means of correspondence with the Postulant or Novice. The filing of monthly reports is also required.

Normally, six months or more after his or her initial acceptance into the postulancy, and upon proper completion of all required lessons, the Postulant may request "clothing" (investiture) as a Novice. When the Postulant is admitted to the novitiate, the first definite step in the Franciscan life is taken. He or she is "clothed" (invested with the Habit) and given a "Religious Name" by which (s)he is to be known in the Order.

Since it is upon "clothing" that the Novice becomes a true Franciscan, he or she is under obedience, so far as the Rule and other documents of the Order ordain, to The Franciscan Order of the Divine Compassion. As a member of the family and sharing in the life of the Franciscan household, they come under the direction of the head of that household in those matters which are defined by the Rule, Constitution, Statutes, Credenda and other regulations of the Order.

During the novitiate, the Novice shall pursue the course of training and formation prescribed by their formation director(s), and shall file such reports as may be required by the Order.

A Novice ready for profession will have demonstrated his or her vocation by perseverance in the rule and way of St. Francis, the stability of persevering love, especially within the life of the Community; and some indication of the stabilizing virtue of humility, - the ability to accept others and himself or herself with grace and detachment.

All true Franciscan rules command that each person desiring to enter the Order shall be examined as to whether they accept the whole of the Catholic Faith. To facilitate the observance of this command of St. Francis, The Franciscan Order of the Divine Compassion has adopted a "Credenda" or statement of belief. Since the Franciscan Order of the Divine Compassion is one spiritual family within the larger relationship of God's Church and lives under Rules expressing the same ideals, and shares in the same devotions, it is necessary before all things that they be bound together by unity of belief in "the Faith once for all delivered to the Saints" that they may be both of one mind and one heart. Therefore, before being admitted to Holy Profession in the Order, each Novice is also required to give written evidence of their belief in and firm commitment to "The Credenda", in the form established by the Order.

The novitiate usually lasts for two years, but may be extended beyond that time if the Order requires. After the novitiate has been successfully served and the Novice has met all of the prerequisites, the Novice may be admitted to Holy Profession.

How Is The FODC Governed?

The center of unity in The Franciscan Order of the Divine Compassion is our Minister-General, the superior general of the Order. Obedience to him as the administrator-in-chief of the affairs of the Order, the executor of its Rule, Constitution, Statutes, Credenda (our Statement of Belief), and form of Government, and the chief spiritual director of the Order's members is the means whereby union and unity is maintained. But it is impossible for the Minister-General, even though according to the Rule established by St. Francis he is minister and servant of all, like our Lord, to minister in person to each individual member of the Order; therefore, he must delegate his authority to others who give pastoral care as his deputies. Those who govern the Order do so according to written laws of the Order, so that all, those who obey and those who govern, are under obedience. Furthermore, the Minister-General is assisted by a Council of Advice known as the Discretorium, and to their vote many things must be submitted according to the Franciscan observance of Religion. In back of the Minister-General and his Discretorium is the General Chapter. It is by the General Chapter that the Minister-General is elected for life, (until his resignation, disability, death or retirement), and the office put upon him by obedience.

Do The Members Of The FODC Take A Religious Name And Wear A Religious Habit?

Our members wear two different forms of religious habit. The "Little Habit", consists of a small scapular and cord, and is worn beneath the street clothing unless the "Greater Habit" is being worn. The Greater Habit varies according to one's stage and/or category of membership in the Order. Generally, the Greater Habit consists of a Franciscan style robe, a cord with the three-fold vows represented by three knots, a full-length brown Scapular, and in some instances depending upon whether one is a brother or sister, a capuche or caprone is worn. (Once, the Oblate sisters wore a veil, and for some this remains an option.) Professed members of the Order also wear a "Tau" Cross bearing the image of our crucified Lord. Some of our members can be seen wearing the Greater Habit by referring to the several pictures displayed on our web site's "picture page". Our members select religious names, when (s)he becomes a Novice in the Order.

Where Can I Find More Information On The Rule And Life Of The FODC?

For further information regarding vocational opportunities in The Franciscan Order of the Divine Compassion, you are invited to contact:

The Rev. Br. Philip Francis, OSF, Secretary-General
Franciscan Order of the Divine Compassion
149 Van Dyke Drive
Canton IL 61520-1152 USA


We will be happy to respond to your questions about the Order.
Adopted: June 29, 1999
Revised: October 10, 2002

Updated: October 11, 2005
Updated: January 29, 1013

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© 2006 The Franciscan Order of the Divine Compassion. All rights reserved.