St. Peter's fraternity at the St. Francis Centre, Orangeville, Ontario

Fraternity

Fraternity has a special role in the Secular Franciscan Order, because it is the privileged place for developing a sense of Church and the Franciscan vocation and for enlivening the apostolic life of its members. Fraternity is where all members meet, organize efforts, pray, and socialize with each other. Fraternity being one of the four pillars of Franciscan Spirituality, strengthens the journey of like minded individuals who are all called to connect with each other as members of the Franciscan Family.

 

Fraternity brings to the Church and the world a particular spirit, that manifests itself in the life of the Church and in all areas of human life. Although we are of the world, we do not live by its non-gospel values, attitudes and policies. Of all the different fraternity levels, the local level is particularly significant in that it is at this level where the majority of Franciscan life takes place. The local fraternity is where the most basic experience of Franciscan spirit is found. All levels of fraternity are important, but the local fraternity is the foundation for all other levels. The special role of fraternal life in the life of the Church was provided by Blessed Pope John Paul II in his Address to the Secular Franciscan Order of November 22, 2002 when he stated:

 

The Church expects from the unique Franciscan Secular Order a great service to the cause of the Kingdom of God in the world today. She wants your Order to be a model of organic, structural and charismatic union at all levels, so as to present yourself to the world as a "community of love" (SFO, Rule, art. 26). From you, Secular Franciscans, the Church awaits a courageous and consistent witness of Christian and Franciscan life that aims at building a more fraternal and evangelical world for the realization of the Kingdom of God (1)...You are called to make your own contribution, inspired by the person and message of St Francis of Assisi, to hasten the coming of a civilization in which the dignity of the human person, co-responsibility and love may be living realties (cf. Gaudium et spes, n. 31ff.). You must deepen the true foundations of universal fraternity, and everywhere create a spirit of hospitality and of brotherhood. Firmly oppose every kind of exploitation, discrimination and marginalization, and every attitude of indifference to others. (3)

 

Fraternity is comprised of members who come from different walks of life, both single individuals and married couples, young and old, men and women. In short, there is a diversity of people with their respective gifts. Each and every individual gift serves the fraternity, the Church and society. It is through fraternity that individual gifts combine to form the "perfect friar." The perfect friar refers to a question that was asked of St. Francis, by one of the many brothers who accompanied him, as to who among them was the perfect one. Saint Francis replied that none were, but each one had something special about them, be it their faith, a certain virtue, prayer life, generosity of heart etc., that combined, formed the perfect friar.

 

Fraternity is where individuals are strengthened and encouraged by each other to live and fulfill their calling to the Franciscan vocation, one that focuses on being single minded in the devotion to love and serve God.