I want to join a secular order but

I’m interested in possibly joining a secular order but there doesn’t appear to be one in my area so does that mean I cannot join one?

Some secular orders may accept what is usually called a “distant member”. I know for sure that some Third Orders accept distant membership, meaning that formation and contact takes place online. Some require that one is able to visit one’s actual community (of whom one is a distant member) periodically. Just how often is up to them and your own situation.

Probably the best move might be to actually contact secular orders that attract you and ask if they do accept distant membership.

The first key is to explore spiritualities and see which ones you are attracted to so that you can dig into them a bit further. After you do that, you can keep narrowing them down until you are close to making a decision. Then, I would contact groups and see if they take distant members or, if there is a way that you can travel once and a while to participate. Remember this is a vocation and a calling from God and that you do not pick an Order or spirituality based on who is close or convenient. Finding a group that you are called to that also accepts members from a distance may be hard as a large part of third/secular/lay orders is community. If you are alone and cannot ever make it to them, you are not really participating in the life of the community. I’m not saying that it is impossible, just that it might be more difficult than you are expecting.

I’m not trying to be a downer either, just giving you a heads up.

This thread has a ton of good information on various approaches to spirituality: forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=600571


I have done investigations and I’m looking at the Franciscan secular order or the Carmelite secular order. I can not decide which one because I’ve been having trouble getting information about either one. I really don’t have one in my area and traveling to a meeting is impossible for me because I would have to travel across the state and traveling is very difficult for me because I’m wheelchair-bound.

There are several good threads on the SFO on here and BrotherJR who posts on CAF quite a bit has worked with the SFO in the past and might be able to give you some good advice. He is all over the thread I posted above so if you take a look at it, you should find some good information.


I’m really leaning toward SFO so I’m glad to hear that. I’m hoping that they can give me information. my plan is to learn as much as I can before I try to find somewhere that takes distant members. Thank you Jason

You are quite welcome. Here is Brother JR’s profile link. forums.catholic.com/member.php?u=71623

You should be able to track down a bunch of good info on the SFO between that and the search function.


I dont know your location, but Carmelite (O.Carm) secular institute rather new website is here: theleaven.org.uk/ . At one point in the past, I know they did accept distant membership providing one could make at very least one personal visit. I dont know what may apply nowadays. They are in the UK.

I’m on the East Coast of the United States.

Actually I’m still exploring I was looking at your signature and I was wondering would you tell me about the order you belong to? I didn’t realize the Dominicans have a secular order. I really enjoyed looking at your facebook group as well. I don’t have my mindset on any order just yet I’m still discerning. Anyway thanks again Jason.

Its hard to know where to start to be honest as there is so much to tell. A basic history is that St. Dominic formed the Dominican laity during his fight to combat heresy. He decided to enlist the help of the laity in preaching the truth of the faith so as to increase his effectiveness and that of his friars.

If you go to this thread, there is a bunch of good info as well as many articles which I have uploaded that might be helpful. I’m not trying to pawn you off or anything, its just that it will likely explain things much better than I can. There is also a good deal of information about Dominicans in the other thread I linked earlier


Also, as you are on the East Coast, here would be your province.



If you are on the East Coast there is a good chance there is a SFO/OFS fraternity located near you.

Take a look at the following link:

If you want to PM me with a closer location then East Coast I might be able to help you out.

I am a professed member of SFO/OFS. Feel free to ask me any questions. There are a few threads in the “Vocations” subject that talk about Franciscan Spirituality and SFO. There is also a Franciscan Spirituality Social group on here that has an entire thread devoted to questions about SFO.

I don’t know if you are in the US or not but if you are feel free to use the link in the bottom of my signature block and they will help you with finding and SFO Fraternity in your area. If you are not in the US they may be able to help you with finding your National Chapter. God bless.

This website is helpful also.



The OFS no longer allows for members “at a distance”, ie, meeting attendance is mandatory (unless one is ill, obviously).

Granted but there may be a Fraternity closer than the OP realizes.

This is certainly true. There are a bunch of new fraternities (praise God) out here.:slight_smile:

There are a LOT of Secular Franciscan fraternities on the East Coast. Go to nafra-sfo.org and follow the “regional and local fraternities” link and you will find a LOT of them in every state.

I’m a Secular Franciscan and we have people in my fraternity who can’t attend many meetings. There are a lot of things that can be done.

Our local fraternity has set up all kinds of arrangements to accommodate this–cells, hospital room meetings, home meetings and so on. Formation doesn’t have to be done in a church building. What happens really depends on whether the person has a Franciscan vocation or not, rather than how well a person travels.

In your local area, there might already be such an arrangement. If you go to nafra-sfo.org and find the fraternity near yours, you can call them and find out.

Okay first let me say thank you to everyone for all your responses. I’m located in Richmond Virginia and this is my diocese if that helps.

My parish is the mother church for our diocese the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. The second thing is previously I have been able to go to church on a weekly basis just like every Catholic. But now circumstances have changed because the public transportation system that I rely on has become so unreliable that it’s not feasible anymore. They leave people stranded in all kinds of weather for hours and it got so bad that my fellow parishioners were concerned about my health and safety. I had no choice but to stop using that transportation. Now I can only go to church once a month since that is the only time there is reliable transportation available. I know it doesn’t make up for not being able to go to church but I have been using things like the liturgy of the hours and of course I watch mass over the Internet. I figured even if I couldn’t actually become a member of a secular order I could at least learn something from these secular orders to enrich my faith. But when I try to find detailed information about how secular orders work like the rules I discovered you have to be a member and that’s when I posted here asking for help. Even if I can’t actually be a member of any of them if somebody could just provide me with booklets or other information explaining the rules and traditions I would really appreciate that. Right now I’m open to exploring any order.
Thank you again everyone God bless you all!

Ah, I see. Well, there are all kinds of things that people from the different third orders can recommend in the way of spiritual enrichment. I think that’s what you’re asking for, yes?

Third orders aren’t really something you join to get just enrichment, like a prayer group or something like that. They really are orders in the Church and that’s why they require a vocation and profession and so on. They’re a permanent commitment and that’s why they require regular and ongoing personal contact. Difficulties with travel can sometimes be worked around, as I noted before, but joining a third order is more than just taking part in an activity or a getting a resource for information.

That said, I’m sure that people from the different third orders would be happy to explain their charism to you, and offer some recommendations for reading and so on.

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