I found a question in my combox today: “How do I look into the Franciscan Third Order?”
As the commenter didn’t leave a contact email, I am only able to answer through the blog. But that’s OK, because this information might be useful to someone else.
The Secular Franciscan Order (formerly known as the Third Order) is an international order of lay adults who promise to live a life according to the Gospel-based Rule developed by Francis of Assisi. Secular Franciscans are not bound to give up their families, spouses, homes or jobs; they are to live the Gospel to their best ability in their unique situations within the world. We’re not hermits, monks or nuns. We’re parents, grandparents, great-grandparents; spouses, widows, and single folks; homemakers, bus drivers, secretaries, teachers, accountants, and more. We meet regularly in local groups called “fraternities” to pray, learn, and encourage each other.
In the USA, the best place to locate a Secular Franciscan fraternity in your area is through NAFRA: the National Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order. You can use their website and check out a regional listing of fraternities, call 1-800-FRANCIS or read a little more in-depth on the Franciscan vocation.
Becoming a Secular Franciscan is a lifelong commitment and includes several years of formation. So take your time; explore fraternity life in your area; learn about St. Francis and the Franciscan way of life (I like to recommend St. Francis of Assisi by G.K. Chesterton and any Franciscan book by Murray Bodo, OFM to people inquiring about the SFO.)
May God bless you as you discern your Franciscan vocation.