The Franciscans

Francis of Assisi, by Benozzo Gozzoli St. Francis of Assisi receiving 
approval for his rule.

Origins

St. Francis of Assisi is one of the church's best known and most beloved saints. His life is a model of conversion and service to Christ. 

Born about the year 1181, Francis was the son of a wealthy merchant and he grew up living the life of a young gallant.  After enlisting in the papal army for a campaign in southern Italy, Francis fell sick, and was forced to return home.  There he began more earnestly to pray and engage in acts of charity, which brought him into conflict with his father. 

One day at mass, he happened to hear the words of the Gospel, "provide neither gold nor silver, nor brass in your purses, nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes," which he took as a direct command, and thereafter was determined to make them into a Rule of life.  Thus he founded the Order of Friars Minor, and after receiving approval from the Apostolic See, he sent his friars throughout the world to preach the Gospel.

Although this new order of friars live by a Rule, they were different from monks in that they sought to engage the world rather than separate from it.  Their mission was that of ministry and conversion, and they were meant to support themselves by relying on the charity and goodwill of those they met (hence the term "mendicant" from the Latin, mendicans--begging).  The Franciscan order was an important force for religious reform in the high middle ages, as the ideals that informed their Rule turned the attention of the Church away from the quest for wealth and back to the example of the apostles.

For the next three hundred years the order flourished, and though they were expelled from England at the dissolution of the monasteries, they were active in the conversion of the New World.  At the time the Oxford movement, the Franciscan spirituality was re-introduced into England with the creation of several orders of men and women inspired by St. Francis and his rule.

Franciscans in the ACC

The Franciscan Order of the Divine Compassion (FODC) is a religious order of the Anglican Catholic Church founded in 1991 by Brother John-Charles Vockler, a First Order Franciscan friar and Anglican Catholic bishop. The FODC took its name from that of the first American society of Anglican Franciscans. Brother John-Charles later served for several years as Metropolitan Archbishop of the Anglican Catholic Church until his retirement in 2005.

The FODC’s Third Order, also known as the Brothers and Sisters of Penance, is composed of men and women, single and married, clerical and lay, who live in the world, working in their various life callings. They follow a structured Franciscan Rule, pray the Daily Offices of the Church, assist at Mass, perform works of spiritual and corporal mercy, and follow a regimen of meditation and spiritual discipline.

Their vows are adapted for secular living and are professed as Simplicity, Purity and Fidelity. Professed members (also called “Tertiaries”) wear Profession Crosses. With permission of their priests, Tertiaries participating at Mass as servers, acolytes, or lay readers may wear the Third Order habit (Profession Cross, brown scapular, and white cord) with cassock and surplice.

Men and women who wish to consider a call to the Third Order spend six months of discernment as a Postulant under the guidance of the Guardian. With the consent of the Guardian, they then participate in two or more years of Novitiate training prior to being permitted to seek Life Profession.

The Companions of St. Francis are associate members of the Franciscan Order of the Divine Compassion who are drawn to the example, spirituality, life, and witness of St. Francis and St. Clare. These individuals, for various reasons, cannot make a commitment to be a Tertiary of the Third Order. Through their prayer life and almsgiving, the Companions are an invaluable source of joy and fellowship to our Franciscan family. Companions follow a limited Rule of Life based on Franciscan spirituality.

Supporting the Work

Please pray for the growth of the Franciscan Order of the Divine Compassion. We ask your further prayers that our Tertiaries and Companions will persevere in their commitments and faithfully follow a communal life and witness to the glory of our Lord and Savior and the advancement of His Kingdom.

If you are a baptized and confirmed communicant in good standing of the Anglican Catholic Church, at least 18 years old, and interested in considering membership in the Third Order or the Companions of St. Francis, please contact the Guardian at FODC@anglicancatholic.org.