One Perspective on the Order of Franciscan Secular

Paul Keggington

May 17, 2012

Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Annette Kurey tells about her experience as a Presider and Formation Director with the Order of Franciscans Secular at St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Greenwood, MS. ( If you are confused right now about what to call this Franciscan order of the laity, you are not alone! The new translating that has just this year been voted on in Brazil, that is accepted is OFS – Order of Franciscan Seculars. The Order feels it is a more correct translation. It will take some time for this to all get switched because the previous letters are on emails, license plates stationary etc…)

How did you come to be involved with the OFS in Greenwood?
Mrs. Hollie kindly commandeered my assistance in reactivating the former OFS here at St. Francis Greenwood. She was quite confident that I could do the job as all I needed was a knowledge of St. Francis and St. Clare. I didn’t immediately accept her “invitation” but told her I would pray about it and asked her to do the same. The next nudge or push by the Holy Spirit came in the form of a tap on the shoulder from Father Greg, our pastor. This resulted in a rather timid “Yes”. I agreed to be the Spiritual Assistant so that someone else would be in charge. A few months later the Regional Minister and the Regional Formation Director came here to guide our beginning steps.

What exactly is your role in the OFS?
I am the Presider and the Formation Director. Despite my own plans to avoid being in charge, God had other plans and acting as the Presider basically means I’m in charge. As Formation Director I am to explain to the OFS members what it means to be a Secular Franciscan. In a nutshell I am to lead and form them in living and moving “from the Gospel to life and life to the Gospel”.

How does the OFS differ from our own life as Sisters in the Third Order Regular of St. Francis?
Our group is Third Order Secular. They originate from lay people who wished to follow St. Francis during his own time. We Sisters share the Third Order with them. We have chosen to live our life as vowed religious. They profess to live the Gospel life in the way of St. Francis for the whole time of their life as lay people in the world.

What is the history of the OFS here at St. Francis?
The Friars arrived in Greenwood in 1948. The parish was established in 1951. The mission of this parish was to serve the spiritual needs of Black Catholics who had no church that would accept them. In 1954 the Secular Franciscan Order was erected here as part of the growth of the spiritual life of the parish. In 1957 there were 28 professed Secular Franciscans here at St. Francis. In 1975 St. Francis OFS was listed as inactive. Today 2 professed members remain from this group. They have been joined by 12 prospective members who are in the Orientation stage of formation.

What is included in the actual formation of an individual in the OFS and how does it compare to formation in our community?
OFS formation is very similar to formation in any religious order in that there is a lot of discernment involved at the beginning. Prayer is the first required “skill” needed and the first topic of instruction. They are first introduced to the expectations and requirements. There is a formal interview and faith inventory. This would mirror our application process and acceptance into the community. Our postulancy would parallel the inquiry stage of the OSF. The OFS Candidacy would resemble our Novitiate in that this stage includes more focused discernment and leads to a request for either temporary or perpetual profession.

What do you find most inspiring about your involvement with the group?
The sincerity of the individuals who long to grow closer to the Lord and believe that this is the vocation that God has called them to follow has made me appreciate my own vocation so much more. I have learned so much more about St. Francis and St. Clare and their order. This whole journey has and continues to enrich my prayer life and challenge my level of trust in God.

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