Many of our visitors to this web site are drawn because of some fascination with Francis and Clare. Perhaps they simply want to know more about the thirteenth-century saints whose vision of the Gospel life turned their world on its head. Maybe those who stop by are trying to figure out why twenty-first century people would spend their time and energy on such nonsense. Perhaps they are simply intrigued by the romantic image of Francis after watching Fratello Sole, Sorella Luna (Brother Sun, Sister Moon). But for some reason, they come.
What about you? What brings you to oeffranciscans.org today?
If you are here because you are seeking something more in your spiritual journey, you are especially welcome here. We invite you to consider whether you have a Franciscan vocation — a calling to journey with us in this simple way. You need a sense of calling from deep within your core to sustain you along this adventure-filled road.
If you are truly being called, you won’t be content with anything else! So, why not test it out? See what’s going on with you and with us. Perhaps you are the next brother or sister whom God is inviting to walk with us.
So what do I do?
• Read. Devour everything on this web site.
• Pray. Spend time meditating. Where is your heart leading you?
• Communicate. What does this sound like to those who know you best?
• Contact us. Join us in conversation through our forums or directly through e-mail.
If you feel that exploring a vocation with this Order is the right thing for you, here are some thoughts to consider as you discern:
- We are dispersed- members of OEF live in many communities, states and even countries. While some of the brothers and sisters live close enough to spend time together many are the sole representative in their particular community.
- We are a real community- this doesn’t mean that the community is virtual! There are several regional fellowships that gather- in Texas, in Georgia, in the Northeast U.S. (New England/New York/New Jersey), in New Zealand, along the West Coast of the U.S., in the Cumberland/Appalachian (Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, Northern Mississippi, etc) and in the Upper Midwest (Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, etc). The formation director can help you to identify gatherings near you.
- We are a real community- our annual Chapter/Convocation is the one week each year when the whole order is invited to live in community for learning, business, worship, meals and sharing. Formal recognition of the stages of formation typically happen during this gathering.
- We are a real community- telephones, texting, snail mail, Skype, Hangouts, social media, and even couch surfing during travels; building strong relationships is limited only by the creativity and energy of the brothers and sisters!
- We are expected to be accountable- life under a rule is not just a “Me & Jesus” reality. All members of OEF are accountable to their respective denominations. This will vary, but formation should be undertaken with the guidance of your local minister, pastor, priest, elders, bishop, or other appropriate spiritual caregiver.
- We are expected to be accountable- the Director of Formation matches candidates with individual formation counselors. These relationships provide a place for monthly rule reports, processing formation reflections, and receiving challenging feedback to help hone the personal rule. Professed members continue this practice through quarterly reports to a chaplain.
- We are expected to be accountable- each candidate is expected to be in Spiritual Direction throughout their formation. Having a place to process outside of the order is vital so that your individual prayer life can be explored in depth and held in confidence. Professed members continue this practice as a part of lifelong spiritual well-being.
- Discernment is a process- the formation journey is both about listening for God to know what to do and what not to do. That’s why formation takes a number of years. It’s why there are distinct decision points for the candidate and the Order (entering the Postulancy, making Novice vows, Professing lifetime vows), they are points to decide about moving forward, stepping back, or perhaps giving more time for the Holy Spirit to speak before taking the next step.
God bless you as you consider these things!
Resources to help you discern: