US Franciscan Friars


Not only is there variation between one community and another, there’s major difference over time. The major Franciscan Orders, both men and women, are not more or less concerned for the poor than 55 years ago.

What has changed among some, not all, is a far greater conformity to trends of the secular media. Franciscan colleges, with some exceptions like Steubenville, are mostly like small versions of state colleges, maybe with some religious extras.

The difference between mainline Franciscanism 1968 and 2018 is greater than between Capuchins and OFMs, arguably as great as between msinline Franciscanism and another religious order. The CFR, FFI, and small, newer orders are flourishing, but they had to go outside the mainstream orders. So also with newer convents. The liberal, mainstream have no vocations.


I’m still unclear what you’re referring to, especially regarding “secular media trends”. It seems like two different things. If you’re referring to political leanings, there is as much variety at a single friary’s dinner table as anywhere else.

Yes, the Orders have changed somewhat since Vatican II. But here I wouldn’t use “liberal” or “conservative” political terminology. And those changes vary Community to Community. Capuchins are no longer required to have a beard, although many do. Friars becoming lay brothers are in novitiate and formation together with those becoming priests, there’s no longer a segregation between them. There’s ongoing discussion/debate among all Franciscans as to how best to follow the Rule, but that’s an entirely different subject than what I originally was commenting on.

I never attended a Franciscan college, so I don’t know goes on there. I’m also unclear about what secular media trends you’re referring to.


Historically, Franciscan colleges required about one fourth of all undergrad credits to be in Philosophy and Catholic Theology, specifically in a designated sequence of courses. Today, they mostly will require only a few courses, generally electives. Teachers or speakers who supported legal abortion would not have been present on campus. Dorms restricted visits by opposite sex. Most Franciscan colleges (except a few, like Steubenville) incorporated changes that were not called for by Vatican II but followed trends in state colleges.

In terms of media, look at the issues emphasized by CNN, or the NY Times. Then look up the “Justice” portion of websites for Franciscan provinces in the USA, or Franciscan campus ministries. What issues to they emphasize?
You likely will find a close correlation with your daily newspaper, CNN, etc. There might be a Francisan mention of prolife, but only as one priority among many. Again, I am excepting Steubenville. You might look at THEIR website, and compare the emphasis on orthodoxy with Sienna, St. Bonaventure, and similar liberal colleges that choose not to have their Theology faculty take the oath of fidelity to the Magisterium.


As you may know I felt I had a vocation with the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (UK) but after speaking to a Father he says the age limit for Postulancy is 35years old, I am 49years old, could anyone tell me if the age limit is correct or can they be flexible, if not why is the age limit 35


They set limits like that because once over 35, there is a tendency to be set in their ways. Not everyone can accept fraternal correction, especially of the “in your face” variety, from someone younger than themselves. There’s always going to be a “what do you know?” attitude that has to be dealt with in those situations.


I have lived in a communal setting for the past 13 years and I,ve heard that some orders think we are too old to adapt communal living.


This is a question better directed to them. Each community has their own documents and traditions concerning things like age limits.

Have you talked to your diocese vocations director? There are communities that accepted older people. You just have to seek them out.


I see what you’re getting at. But to reiterate my original post here, those “Justice” things are not inherently “liberal” (nor are prolife issues inherently “conservative”). The poor, integrity of Creation, migrants, equality, refugees, peace, ecumenism, corporal works or mercy, along with an incarnational and affective worldview are 100% in line with Catholic orthodoxy. They have also been traditionally “Franciscan” for 800 or so years; long before our modern concepts of “left” or “right” politics, and long before CNN or the NYTimes were founded.


As others have already mentioned, communities set their own age limits. Was the priest you spoke with part of the community you wish to join? If he was not, I’d still recommend speaking to someone from that community, particularly the vocations director. The community may be strict on the age limit, or they may not be so strict. The only way to know, however is to talk with the authority on the matter: the Vocations Director.


Yes thats right, my priest is speaking to the vocations director tomorrow on my behalf, one question I have is why are they allowed to discriminate(age)when any other job they would not dare to? I have just seen a closed topic which talks about ageism not existing in the church!!!


Private organizations have a right to limit membership. This included age limits.

As I said previously, there are some groups that accept older vocations. If the Franciscans are not a possibility, perhaps another group will be.


Francis or the early Franciscans taught “equality”?
“Equality” is grouped on a level of importance with corporal works of mercy?
I think there is a tendency to take modern ideas and project backward in history.

Catholic orthodoxy has a concept of “justice” which many people TODAY equate with equality.

Franciscans have an “affective worldview” ? I suppose most good and evil movements have one of those, not sure if it is good or bad, or particularly Franciscan. Who would not have an affective worldview?


That bolded part is why there is an age limit. There is an attitude we develop as we age and have more life experience that is one of entitlement because we’ve earned something through what we’ve gone through over the decades.

Regarding age limits, every community has them, but many will consider exceptions to their posted limits. Communities that are “bursting at the seams” with vocations generally will not go outside the limits, from what I’ve seen.

If God is calling you to religious life, He has a specific community in mind. He is preparing you and them. You needn’t concern yourself with communities that won’t accept you, for whatever reason. You are not looking for a dozen communities, just that ONE that God has in mind.

Be at peace. Be humble. Accept the path God has prepared, and use everything to grow in holiness.


Hmmm. The pastor at the Capuchin Parish & Friary near my office is clean shaven. Some of them have beards, but not all of them.

And Archbishop Chaput (who was a Capuchin) doesn’t have a beard either.

So I don’t think the beard is required


Great advice, I have known God has plans for me in some monastic way and at the moment it is looking like the Orthodox Church.


The Franciscans are allowed to shave their beards after so many years in the order


Ahhhh. Well that makes sense


All three groups are pretty active. These days, aside from habit, there’s not much visible difference. Traditionally, Conventuals have lived in larger communities, and Capuchins were the most contemplative, austere, and materially poor. OFMs were actually established after the Capuchins and Conventuals in a union of several independent Franciscan communities in the 1890’s.


Beards used to be required. They are no longer required, but the tradition is still there for a lot of friars.

Also, Chaput is STILL a Capuchin. He chooses to conduct his current ministry as an Archbishop in traditional diocesan attire. Cardinal O’Malley chooses to maintain his Capuchin habit. After both retire from their episcopal ministries, they will return to their communities and live like any other brother, in obedience to their superiors within the order.


Yes, I know. I meant he WAS inducted into the Capuchin order

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