When Kathleen Molaro was a young mom searching for God’s will in her life and a community in which she could grow in her faith, she was introduced to the Secular Franciscan Order, or OFS. There were Secular Franciscans in a Bible study that she attended, and it was their example of Gospel living, along with the stories that they shared of St. Francis’ own conversion, that led her to begin the three years of study, prayer, and discernment before choosing to join.
The OFS is a lay branch of the worldwide Franciscan family. Members can be any age, single or married, and are called to a life of prayer and service to the Church and community. Being a Secular Franciscan is a vocation, and while they do not take vows, they say “yes” to living out the vocation to the best of their ability.
“We are called to take our Franciscan spirituality and charism into the secular world, as we serve our families and within our work and ministries,” Kathleen says. “Secular Franciscans strive to live ‘Gospel to life and life to Gospel,’ inspired by the Holy Scriptures and animated and guided by the life of Jesus, the lives of Sts. Francis and Clare of Assisi, and by our Rule. It is one of many ways that Catholics are encouraged to cooperate with the Church’s mission to spread the Gospel.”
Secular Franciscans gather with their Fraternity at least once a month. The Little Portion Fraternity is comprised of 26 active members from 17 different parishes. They meet on the second Sunday of each month at St. Joseph Marello Church in Granite Bay.
“Together we learn more about our Catholic faith and our Franciscan vocation, share our lives, pray together, and build community,” Kathleen says. “We support one another in whatever God has called us to do. It is a place of safety and openness, which allows us to be encouraged and challenged in our journey toward holiness and a closer relationship with God. We consider ourselves family and place our commitment to one another in the same category as that of our biological families.”
There are five Secular Franciscans here at St. Patrick’s, all of whom are actively involved in parish work and community services, and they often attend daily Mass. They travel together to Granite Bay monthly to join their larger family.
“All Secular Franciscans are called to serve their fraternity and perhaps the wider Order when they are able, so I have worked in many areas of leadership,” Kathleen says. “Serving, as we have all experienced, is often a time of growth for ourselves. I believe I have grown a deeper understanding of my vocation, a closer relationship with Christ and His Church, and certainly, I have gained an extra sense of purpose.”
To join, one would meet privately for a time or two and then be invited to join and observe the Fraternity gatherings. The process of discerning the Franciscan spirituality takes about three years. To be professed into the Order, one is required to be a practicing Catholic, baptized and confirmed, and in good standing with the Church.
If you have questions or are interested in learning more, please contact Kathleen Molaro at 530-798-1023 or firstname.lastname@example.org.