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Immaculate Conception Fraternity

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St. Francis of Assisi did not set out to "rebuild" the Catholic Church, but his holiness transformed it after learning that" . . .go rebuild my house . . ." did not mean the dilapidated chapel of San Damiano but the holiness of the Church itself. He did not set out to found an 800 year old religious order with three branches for men, women, and laity, but he did gather some like minded friends around him whose fraternal love and respect gained followers — even to this day throughout the world. Francis did not set out to become known as the consummate peace maker, yet he agreed to literally walk into fire to stop the carnage of the Crusades when he visited the Sultan, thus paving the way for Franciscans being called to be peace makers in a world no less troubled!

Also, Francis did not set out to become the preferred bird bath in gardens throughout the world, but even nature respected this simple, poor, man who respected all things because of the “good, all Good, supreme Good . . .” who had created them. And in Francis’ final hours, he could sing the praise of all of them with the “Canticle of the Creatures” which flows with such joy from the lips of Franciscans and all others as well! Thus giving rise to knowing Franciscans as persons of joy!

Francis fell in love with Jesus and followed him more literally than anyone every had. His biographers tell us Francis had “Jesus in his ears, on his lips, in his eyes . . . He followed Jesus everywhere and in every way. And this has earned him our everlasting gratitude and the wish to follow in his holy footsteps by living as he did — by promising to live the Gospel, in devotion and loyalty to the Church, and in fraternity with our brothers and sisters and all whom God has created.

St. Francis, son of Pietro Bernadone, was born in the small town of Assisi in the year 1182. After a frivolous youth and a year imprisoned by neighboring Perugia, Francis repented, gave back his inheritance to his father and began living only for God. Lady Poverty and life according to the Gospel were his hallmarks. His example created three religious orders, but one Franciscan family — the First Order of Friars Minor, the Second Order of St. Clare and the Third Order consisting of the Third Order Regular and the Third Order Secular. Francis died in Assisi on the evening of October 3, 1226.

The SPIRITUALITY of all Franciscans focuses on imitation of Jesus by living the values of the Gospel, a process which commits one to a lifetime of constant conversion and reconciliation, love for all people — regardless of age, race, nationality, denomination, or any other human quality. They are called to work for justice where its opposite reigns whether in their families, local, national, or worldwide communities. They accept enthusiastically the Gift of Work — tireless work for the spread of God’s Kingdom wherever it is needed.

The SECULAR FRANCISCAN by his or her Profession promises". . . to proclaim Christ by [his or her] life and words . . and to bind themselves more closely to the Church and to work intently to rebuild the ecclesial community and fulfill its mission among all people (Rite of Profession for the Secular Franciscan Order).” All this in imitation of St. Francis who walked in the footsteps of Jesus and who invites the Secular Franciscan to do the same.