A simple question about Third Orders

Friends :),

Once a person has become interested in the ‘spirituality’ of a certain Order, one might wish to remain in the world as a Tertiary. I’m wondering if it’s possible for someone to be a Franciscan, Dominican, Carmelite, etc. Third Order member for many years, and then decide to become a friar or nun. Is this something that is allowed once you’ve made promises as a Secular? Can you “upgrade” yourself, as it were? :slight_smile:

Membership in a Third Order does not preclude one answering a vocation call to that or any other order.

I was once a Secular Franciscan Inquirer (decided the order was not for me). We were told that permanent commitment to the Secular Franciscans left open the options of marriage, ordination to the diocesan priesthood, and entry into any other Franciscan order, but closed the possibility of joining an order that does not have a specifically Franciscan charism (this is one of the reasons I decided not to move forward with the process).

Yes. I personally know two Discalced Carmelite nuns who began their lives as Carmelites in the Secular Order.

Good luck Glorious Order - I wish you well on your path.

I am personally acquainted with a friar who started as a married secular, got divorced and annuled, and ended up ordained.

Gotta say, though, when you’re talking about the Secular Franciscan Order, becoming a friar/sister is not an upgrade. It’s a lateral move :slight_smile:

Speak for yourself, Assisite! :rotfl: Those Preachers know better… :yup:

:yup: Same with the Carmelites. As I say to our Aspirants, it does you no earthly or heavenly good to approach the Order thinking you’d be happier in the monastery. You hoe your row where the Lord puts you; if He calls you to the monastery you just move over a row. :wink: (This, of course, doesn’t address the objective hierarchy of the ordained priesthood.)

:thumbsup: I love this description.

I was already living out the Carmelite chrism when I discovered the Secular Carmelites so I’m just moving over a row and beginning my Aspirancy in August.

Assuming you are interested in the Dominicans, it is perfectly possible to make final profession as a Lay Dominican and later become a friar, nun or sister (most usually in the Dominican Order, but you would be released to explore your vocation to the priesthood or religious life even in another order).

However, and I suspect this would be the case for all orders, the Council would be unlikely to approve you to make profession if you had made public the knowledge that you were exploring a vocation to the religious life.

I.E. if someone is genuinely committed to the lay state is professed as a Lay Dominican, they may later become a religious, but someone who is still discerning their vocation would not be allowed to become a Lay Dominican.

As with the other orders, it would not be talked of as an ‘upgrade’, although obviously there are those within the community (as any Catholic community) who would see it as such; hence the term ‘third order’ being dropped in favour of Lay Dominican.

I think this is a very significant point: discerning a vocation as a lay member of a religious order is a serious process to engage with, and the vocation is a distinct one in and of itself, not a stepping stone to something else. I appreciate that none of the people who have responded here necessarily think otherwise for a moment, but it is important to acknowledge that lay professed are fully members of the religious family, not partial members awaiting something else. If a second period of discernment leads one to apply for the first or second orders, this is a separate matter and to be judged on its own terms.

Speaking as a friar who is supported in my vocation with a place of residence, liturgy and sacraments easily available, all my basic needs catered for, and being given work to do - I always think that living a charism whilst also having to provide for oneself and often a spouse and family as well is in many ways a much more difficult and challenging calling.

Without suggesting that anyone here would desire to do so, I think we have to be careful not to patronise lay members who live out a remarkable and difficult witness and ensure that our charisms are brought to many secular places where religious are absent.

I have had trouble to get in to an order because I am to old. But that didn’t stop our Lord from calling us. Now if men over 50 become a third order and take vows then live in community and call it a semi cloister,(may have to go out to work and come back) can they wear a habit.They would live on there own money. We would do and act just as a real cloister, monastery, or abbey. What do you think?

That is a good example of what the Third Order Regulars do under the Franciscans. They are SFO that live in community.

Whoa! No, they aren’t:


The Third Order Regular did historically come out of the seculars, but at the present time they are nothing like SFOs living in community. They are a religious order of friars, very like the OFM branches, though with a slightly different emphasis within the Franciscan charism (the link mentions this near the bottom) and, of course, they wear black :slight_smile: They do the whole poverty, chastity (which for them is celibacy), obedience thing, and live in community under the authority of a superior.

I would not be surprised to hear that among the zillions of associations and communities in the Franciscan family, there would be one or more which are essentially seculars living in community, but the TORs isn’t it.**

Yes, but it’s not an upgrade. It’s a change from one expression of the charism to another.

I thank God for the gift of the third orders. I am on the cusp of being accepted as a novice (God willing!) in the secular discalced order in buffalo…the only canadian in this group of about 50. Had my two interviews, etc etc…just waiting to hear this month maybe. If all goes well in Feb, I will receive my scapular, my religious name and accompanying intials. It is an intense formation but loving it!

Hi Shoshana,

What is intense about it? Your excitement is contagious, by the way. :slight_smile:

There is a strict discipline…much prayer, reading, studying. Monthly meetings are mandatory…many questions to answer on our readings. There is a community study on the Way of Perfection with questions…then we form into groups where we are at, aspirants, novices, temporarily professed and definitively professed. It takes 6 years for the whole process. Formation exists at all levels…

The monthly meetings are similar to a mini-retreat…office is said, mass, meditation, community study, lunch, chaplet of divine mercy, formation classes. This last time, after fromation class, I was interviewed for my admittance into becoming a novice by the consul (5 people present). I was highly recommended :o but I do not know yet the answer. It felt like the inquisition…

The ceremony is beautiful and done during mass…father blesses the outward scapular…he invests you with it…you receive your new name (mine will be St mary Catherine of Egypt) and I received the ocds signature. God wiling…

Then I start the novice formation for two years. There are 10 incoming aspirants for february…wow…god is working hard! and so are we! :smiley:

6 YEARS TO BECOME A PROFESSED THIRD ORDER!!!:eek: But loving it!:thumbsup:

Wow! That’s why a lot of people in third orders are umm…older.

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