Secular Franciscan to Lay Carmelite


Hi brothers and sisters,

Someone who is a member of another Third Order cannot become a Secular Franciscan, according to the rules of the SFO.

But I can't find anything about someone who is already a Secular Franciscan becoming a member of another Third Order. Canon Law states that one can be a member of more than one Third Order.

I understand the difference between the SFO and other Third Orders.

Would the Secular Franciscan have to resign from the SFO? Would the particular Third Order refuse to admit a Secular because of the SFO's perpetual commitment clause?

I know that the original rule going back to the 13th Century allowed a Franciscan to join another order.



The Secular Franciscan would have to be released from his vows or promises before the Carmelites would be able to accept him into the order. Two of the women in our lay Carmelite community are former lay Franciscans so this obviously can be done. I'm not sure of the particulars but application must be made at least at the regional level for release. The process of discernment (first year Carmelite formation) can take place in the meantime. You can speak to your local Carmelite community director for more information.


There was a person in our fraternity who did this when she was considering becoming a Benedictine. Yes, Mary Ellen is right, you would first have to be released of your promise.


The Secular Franciscan would have to be released from promises in order to become a Third Order Carmelite.

Canon law is talking about lay associations of the faithful (LAF). The faithful can belong to more than one LAF, esp if the groups have been encouraged by the church heirarchy.

Here are three examples of LAF:

Charity Associates of the Miraculous Medal:

Dr Gianna’s Assistants for Life:

Compassionate Friends of the Comatose:

LAF do not necessarily need to have the intention of becoming an institute of religious life, but they can. Those LAF which intend to stay lay associations need statutes. They can have as one of their goals the establishment of an institute of religious life. In this case, they stay the “third order” for the new community.




Thanks for the comments!

I realize I made a mistake in the title of the post. I should have written Lay Dominican.

Does anyone out there know about the Lay Dominican “rules”?



Same as the others. One has to be released by the province in which your promises were made. I wouldn’t do this until ready to make promises in the other third order, unless there is specifically something saying one cannot do that.




Thanks, Cloisters…I am at the very beginning stage of this discernment…Peace, NYCCatholic


Check out articles 56, 57, 58, 59 & 60 of the OFS Constitution.


What has to be done has already been addressed. Why should also be addressed. A person should really look at them self and see why they want to change Orders. They need to remember that when they entered SFO/OFS they made promises that were supposed to be lifetime promises. Something called that person to the Franciscan lifestyle. Both the person and the fraternity at the time felt the calling was valid.

The reason shouldn't be something that can easily be changed, ie.
1) You like the way Carmelites embrace contemplative prayer, Franciscans also embrace contemplative prayer, see the writings and prayer of St. Clare.
2) Falling out with current fraternity, unless you live in a remote area there are other fraternities around.
3) Issue with leadership, leadership changes.
4) Issues with the charism, speak with a spiritual director to make sure something else isn't going on.

Yes, if you truly feel called to switch from OFS to Lay Caremeltie you should explore it, but don't forget that you promised to be a Franciscan for life. That promise should be taken very seriously.


He’s already stated that it’s Lay Dominican to Lay Carmelite.

Carmel is for everyone. It’s a matter of discerning whether or not one is to forsake other spiritualities and dwell entirely in Carmel. The two branches are the same, yet different.

Might I offer the suggestion that the OP is being drawn to study Teresa and John so as to deepen their spirituality?



[quote="Cloisters, post:10, topic:312908"]
He's already stated that it's Lay Dominican to Lay Carmelite.


Actually that isn't clear from the posts he has made. It actually sounds based on his second post this is SFO/OFS to Lay Dominican. He said he only made a mistake in the title, the entire post itself talks about leaving SFO.


True, and he also states in post seven that he has just started the process of discernment.

Let Francis and Dominic stand with him, whatever he discerns the movement of the Spirit to be in his life.



I agree the Francis and Dominic will stand with him. I just want to get rid of the impression that changing ones affiliation is similar to quitting the Knights of Columbus and joining the Elks instead. The fact that I am a Franciscan has nothing to do with it. I would be bringing up the same issues no matter which way the person was trying to change. Something brought the person to SFO originally. Both the person and the fraternity must have felt the calling was valid, else profession would not have happened. Franciscan and Dominican (and Caremelite spirituality for that matter) are all sufficiently broad enough that a member of any of those Orders can live a life embodying ideals from each. You can be a Franciscan and still follow Dominican spirituality and visa-versa. The attitude on here that many seem to have is, oh if you want to do this, no big deal just follow, Constitution steps x, y, and z and you are now a Lay Dominican devalues both spiritualities.


My position is one of support of the OP; his spiritual director; whichever organization he belongs to; and the decision being discerned.

While I do agree that one should switch only after great discernment is done with the proper support persons, I also acknowledge the fact that they could, indeed be called to another path.

I also agree that spiritualities can mix. I'm Lay Dominican, but I'm also Lay Passionist. One has promises, the other does not. Ignatian spirituality speaks to me as does Vincentian. I piece them together for the sake of serving God through family and friends.

But, that is not what this thread is about. I still stand with the OP in his discernment process, wherever that may lead him.



[quote="Cloisters, post:14, topic:312908"]
My position is one of support of the OP; his spiritual director; whichever organization he belongs to; and the decision being discerned.


And yet none of the posts by the OP mentions discernment, discussion with spiritual directors, etc. That in conjunction with only 3 posts on Catholic Answers and getting the spirituality they may be moving to wrong, doesn't scream of high levels of discernment IMHO.

Yes, if after much discernment, talking things over with spiritual directors and members of both Orders a change is discerned, yes a change can happen. But it shouldn't be taken lightly.


I wanted to write back today and ask the original poster why he is leaving the Franciscans?Marauder made some good points. From looking at it on this thread not much dicernment may have been made by the original poster since he hasnt even investigated the Dominican rule. Possibly the original poster is looking deeper into his vocation in life. As long as you are strictly keeping with the OFS rule you can find deeper paths of your own vocation and spirituality within the OFS order. St.Anthony of Padua wanted to study, but at the time Francis was hesitant because he believed that the study of the sciences and so forth could bring pride. Never the less, he allowed Anthony (who used to be a well learned Agustinian) to continue his ways of learning as long as he kep the rule first and foremost. At the fourth Lateran council the Church was in need of well educated people and since the Franciscans were spreading and preaching in areas with many educated people, they did well to educate themselves so that they could be of better service to the Church. St.Bonaventure and Bl.Jon Duns Scotus wrote some amazing articles of faith.


Thanks for all the comments…Yes, I am discerning but it is in the very beginning stages…Yes, I have a spiritual director but haven’t brought it up yet because I am in the very beginning stages…There is no use bringing it up if it cannot happen so that is why I asked if it is possible…I see that it is possible so the next step is to discern why I am feeling this way and if the Lord is leading me…We chose a saint’s name at the time of profession and I chose Dominic…Dominic is in my personal litany of the saints along with Francis…I am a deacon candidate in my diocese and I love the Dominican emphasis on preaching, which I feel strongly called to (I can tell you that not every deacon candidate feels this way, even though it comes with the job)…It might just be that I will learn about preaching from the Dominicans, along with what our homiletics instructors teach us…So far, I’ve learned from my formation instructors: preach about 7 or 8 minutes but no longer than 15; preach Jesus Christ; never stop evangelizing…I will continue to let you know how my discernment goes…(Also, formation classes interfere with my fraternity meetings so I have an active excusal from the council, maybe I miss my fraternity sisters (we have a few brothers, too…:-)…


Nothing within the Franciscan Order will stop you from getting inspiration, training, etc. from the Dominicans. There were/are many excellent teachers and/or homilists among the Franciscan Order. St. Francis himself and St. Anthony are among the most well known. As I said before, Franciscan spirituality is very broad and embraces many Dominican beliefs. Since you already have the Franciscan background, you may want to consider doing the equivalent of in college having a major and a minor. Your major could be Franciscan Spirituality and your minor being Benedictine Spirituality. Like has been said, make sure you discuss all of this with your spiritual director. If your spiritual director isn’t formally part of an Order or real familiar with Orders you may want to get find someone to bounce things off of that is.

If you truly feel called after much discernment to switch Orders it is possible. Good luck in your discernment.


Many thanks to you and everyone else who responded, you’ve all been a great help! Grace and peace to you…NYCCatholic


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