The Franciscan Order of the Divine Compassion is a traditional, orthodox,
Anglo-Catholic Religious Order formed to preserve the historic Catholic
Faith as the Anglican Church received it. First Order members are
Friars. Second Order Members are Poor Clares. Third Order vocations
are secular in nature. Tertiaries (Third Order Members) and Non-Conventual
Oblates of St. Francis (members of the Order who have taken one or more
of the traditional monastic vows in addition to the promises of the Third
Order) do not live in monasteries. Although under vows, they pursue the
"religious life" while living in their own homes.
The information that follows is primarily focused on the life of a Tertiary.
For information on other forms of membership in the order, contact Fr.
John-Mark, OSF, Vicar-General by sending him e-mail from here.
Francis of Assisi was called by God to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ,
and so, "build up the Church, which was spiritually falling into decay."
In this calling, he chose Lady Poverty as his companion and the Holy Gospel
as his rule. Armed with the Catholic Faith, he went out to bring the love
of God to a waiting world. Soon others wanted to join him in his way, and
so an order of poor brothers was formed [The First Order]. Likewise,
a noble born girl of Assisi, Clare, sought him out to join his order.
He received her vows and asked her to undertake as her vocation
the high calling of a life of prayer, and so, the Poor Clares [The Second
Order] came into existence. As time went on, Francis became aware that
there were many who desired to share in the Franciscan witness, but due
to worldly ties [family, vocation, commitment, etc.] could not do so.
In the year of our Lord 1221, Francis received the vows of Blessed Luchesio
and his wife Bonadonna, a married couple living in the city of Poggibonsi,
and the Third Order was born. Francis told them to live in the world and
to do penance for the sins of mankind.
It was Divine Compassion that caused Our Blessed Lord to come from Heaven
and offer his life and death in penance for the sins of the world. It was
in imitation of that Divine Compassion that Francis sent the first Tertiaries
[members of the Third Order] to do penance in the places where they lived
for the sorrows and shortcomings of all men. In the words of the prayer
attributed to St. Francis, "Lord make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon;
where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there
is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness,
joy. Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to
be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving
that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in
dying that we are born to eternal life."
As did our Holy Father Francis, so we, too, strive to give ourselves
to Lady Poverty in the spirit of simplicity. All that we possess is a trust
from God, given to us to administer in stewardship. It is not the possession,
but the attachment to worldly goods, which separates us from our Lord.
Tertiaries, though they possess property and work to support themselves
and their families, will strive to live in the spirit of simplicity according
to their station in life, ever mindful of the world's poverty and its demands
upon them. We take as our rule the Holy Gospel, as did St. Francis, striving
to make our Lord known and loved by all men in all places. Our vocation
is to do penance for all mankind, spreading the love, brotherhood, and
unity of our Lord Jesus Christ among all people.
In order to meet the demands of our way, a Tertiary must be committed
to right faith, and a life of prayer, study, and work in his or her life:
[A.] We believe that commitment to a common faith is the foundation
on which our corporate life is built. We therefore require all Novices
prior to their profession, to give written acceptance to the Credenda of
the Franciscan Order of the Divine Compassion ["The Credenda" is a formal
statement of the Holy Catholic Faith as contained in Scriptures and the
Historic Creeds; as taught by the early Fathers and the Ecumenical Councils
of the undivided Church; and as confirmed by catholic consent in every
age to the present]. A copy of "The Credenda"
is enclosed for your review.
[B.] Our commitment to a life of prayer, study, and work is achieved
through the formations and commitment to a rule of life.
The postulancy normally lasts for six months, during which time postulants
will receive guidance in the formation of a rule of life. Monthly reporting
and mailed correspondence is required, since a Third Order vocation is
lived in the secular world and pursued from the postulant's own home.
At the end of the postulancy, a postulant may request reception into
the novitiate. He or she will be asked to submit a rule of life and make
his or her first promises. The postulant will also be required to report
monthly and to make a monthly renewal of those promises and of his
or her pledge to keep the rule of life.
The novitiate normally lasts for two years, during which the postulant
will receive instruction on the Holy Catholic Faith as contained in The
Credenda. At the end of the two years and upon successful completion of
all requirements, the postulant may request either profession in the Third
Order or Oblate status. In addition to the normal Third Order promises,
Oblates take one or more of the traditional monastic vows of poverty, chastity
and obedience. Postulants will then be required to give written acceptance
of The Credenda.
At that time you will make your first simple perpetual promises, which
are predicated on an annual renewal and pledge. Professed Brothers
and Sisters of the Order are normally required to report on their observance
of their rule and on their Franciscan way of life at the end of each calendar
quarter of each year.
The Rule of Life may be changed at any time with the approval of the
If you feel moved to try your vocation with our Order, there are several
things you are asked to do at this time:
[A.] Read a life of St. Francis. We require St.
Francis of Assisi, by Omer Englebert (December 1982, Servant Publications,
paperback), which is available through our Franciscan Hands web site.
[B.] Print out the Application and return
it as indicated. The Order considers the answers to the questions
asked to be "confidential" in nature, and they will not be shared beyond
that which is reasonably required in order to verify the information you
provide. For an Application in A4 (non-USA)
format, click here
[C.] Submit a short paragraph on why you feel that God
is calling you to try your vocation in the Third Order.
[D.] Ask your parish priest, or some priest known to you,
or if in Orders, your Spiritual Director, to write the Order giving his
assessment of your spiritual pilgrimage up to this time.
[E.] Choose a Spiritual Director who you feel possesses
the spiritual qualities necessary to aid you in your vocation and life
of prayer. This person need not be a priest, but should also be under the
guidance of a Spiritual Director. During the postulancy and novitiate,
you will be asked to meet with this person at least monthly. Each member
of the Order is required to have a Spiritual Director approved by the Order.
May God be with you as you contemplate a vocation in The Franciscan
Order of the Divine Compassion.