What’s in a name? NAFRA vs. OFS-USA

(This article originally appeared in the Fall 2018 issue of Tau-USA)

The acronym “NAFRA” has been used for years to refer to the National Fraternity. However, it isn’t unique to the United States. So to provide certainty we are shifting to the use of “OFS-USA.” You’ll see email addresses, the website, our Facebook page address, and Twitter account change to the OFS- USA.

Of course, we will still use the term “National Fraternity” in speaking of all OFS in the United  States but we will limit the use of “NAFRA.”

Remember that all of us belong to four fraternities: local, regional, national and international. (Someday we need a list of acronyms listed on the website!).

2018-10-25T21:39:03-04:00October 25th, 2018|Categories: From the Newsletter|0 Comments

Nation Executive Council Election Results

After reflecting together on the needs of our Order, after spending time in prayer and formation, and after invoking the help of the Holy Spirit, the National Fraternity has chosen the team that will guide and animate the Fraternity for the next three years. The following servant leaders were elected to NEC positions:

  • Jan Parker, OFS — Minister
  • Mary Bittner, OFS — Vice Minister
  • Jane DeRose-Bamman — Secretary
  • Claudia Kauzlarich, OFS — Treasurer
  • Awilda Guadalupe, OFS — International Councilor
  • Josh Molidor, OFS — Councilor 1
  • Dennis Ross, OFS — Councilor 2
  • Donna Hollis, OFS — Councilor 3

Jane DeRose-Bamman was also elected Alternate International Councilor

Please keep all of these brothers and sisters in your prayers.

Our new National Executive Council reciting the Commitment to Serve immediately following the conclusion of the election.

2018-10-13T19:00:02-04:00October 13th, 2018|Categories: Announcements, National Chapter|5 Comments

OFS USA Chapter Update: 2018 JPIC Award Presented

Carolyn Townes, OFS (left) and Kathleen Carsten, OFS (right) just after JPIC Award presentation. Photo: Bob Stronach, OFS.

Greetings, dear Family!

It was my joyful honor to present the 2018 recipient of the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Award, Kathleen Carsten, OFS. Kathy, as she is affectionately known, is a parish nurse and an advocate for the seniors and the plights of senior housing.

Wishing you blessings of peace and all good,
Carolyn D. Townes, OFS
National Animator, Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC)

Video of the award ceremony will be posted to the Chapter’s web page shortly.

2018-10-11T23:23:07-04:00October 11th, 2018|Categories: JPIC, National Chapter|0 Comments

2018 State of the Order

During this morning’s session of the National Chapter, our National Minister, Jan Parker, OFS, delivered the 2018 State of the Order presentation. The State of the Order document, as well as the presentation slides can be found on the Chapter’s web page.

The State of the Order was followed by a presentation about the recent Formation Visioning Workshop and future formation-related plans by Diane Menditto, OFS, National Formation Chair. These can also be found Chapter’s web page.

Please take some time to read, reflect on, and pray about what Jan and Diane has shared with us in these important documents.

2018-10-10T16:54:26-04:00October 10th, 2018|Categories: National Chapter|0 Comments

2018 National Chapter

The National Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order – USA (NAFRA) began its 2018 Chapter last night in St Louis.  Many important topics will be addressed by our servant leaders this week and, on Saturday, an election will be held to select our national leadership team for the next three years.  Please be sure keep the entire National Fraternity in your Prayers as the Holy Spirit guides them during these discussions and the election.

Materials related to the Chapter, include our National Minister’s State of the Order presentation, will be gathered on this webpage. Day one photos by Bob Stronach, OFS are already available.

2018-10-10T11:18:17-04:00October 10th, 2018|Categories: National Chapter|1 Comment

National Minister’s Message – Formation Visioning Workshop

“The Vision of God for the OFS” – an image inspired by the Holy Spirit, painted by Pat Serotkin OFS at the recent Formation Visioning Workshop

The journey of transformative visioning has begun – a journey that will test our readiness to authentically live the Franciscan life. Our experience at the recent Formation Visioning Workshop awakened our souls. We must now allow God to work this great change in us.

Through a dedicated page on our website we are making available to everyone the materials from this gathering. Those who were present need to enlighten others and share what was experienced. The vision given to Francis and Clare can unfold once again in our time.

Guide us, O Lord, by your Spirit’s transforming power, that we may come to be, as Francis was, formed into a more precise embodiment of the likeness of Christ. Amen.

2018-09-15T16:31:43-04:00September 15th, 2018|Categories: Formation, Minister’s Message|0 Comments

New Web Site Page: Sources for Secular Franciscan Books and Supplies

A new page was added to the Secular Franciscan USA web site today. It gathers together information about sources for many of the books and supplies Secular Franciscans and OFS fraternities often need. This includes the “Little Read Rule Book” as well as the FUN Manual. A link to the page  has been added to the Resources menu at the top of every page on the site. You can also follow this link:

Sources for Secular Franciscan Books and Supplies

2018-09-08T21:27:05-04:00September 8th, 2018|Categories: New Resource, Website Housekeeping|1 Comment

A Message to Secular Franciscans Regarding the Recent Scandal in the Churches of Pennsylvania

Sisters and Brothers of the Secular Franciscan Order, United States:

The release of the Grand Jury report in Pennsylvania is a cause of sorrow, pain and agonizing self-scrutiny for the Catholic Church in the United States.  We are again face to face with the tragic reality of sinful abuse perpetrated on the most vulnerable of our faith family.  How, we ask, can we trust those shepherds with our lives, our children and our faith?  Can the victims find peace and healing in the Church that betrayed their innocence?  Can we, as professed Secular Franciscans, stand as mere bystanders watching this tragic play unfold before us?  What are we to do?  What can we do?

It saddens all of us that a small minority of men who made a commitment to serve the Church betrayed the promises they made to serve, and used their positions of being an authority figure to aid predatory behavior; truly we have wolves in sheep’s clothing. (Mt 7:15)  If it were only a case of a few parish priests, the trust of Church leaders may more easily be re-established; but when it is demonstrated that our chief shepherds, the bishops, were involved in secrecy, cover ups and pay outs, the trust, respect and moral authority of the Church as an institution suffers great damage.  We must all face the truth and make no excuse for those who are guilty of these crimes against the living stones of the Church, the mystical body of Christ; those who have been unfaithful spouses to the Church as the Bride of Christ!

St John Chrysostom, a fourth century bishop, described pastors as the “salt of the earth”.

(Mt 5:13) He said of pastors, “If others lose their savor, then your ministry will help them regain it.  But if you yourselves suffer that loss, you will drag others down with you.”  Sisters and brothers, we have witnessed many being dragged down by those shepherds who have lost their savor as salt of the earth.

As a Secular Order, we are in a unique position to help those who feel abandoned, threatened and fearful of the clerical hierarchy that betrayed their trust.  We are an order of people in the pew.  As people in the pew we can listen to our broken sisters and brothers.  We can listen without judging, without trying to immediately heal them of their pain. We can listen to them and acknowledge their pain without defending or making excuses for the institution that betrayed them.  We can “with a gentle and courteous spirit accept them all as a gift of the Lord and an image of Christ” (OFS Rule, Art.13). We can make contributions to support the counselors who will help heal the wounds of those suffering souls.

We were founded as the Brothers and Sisters of Penance.  All of us in our individual life, in our fraternities, in our regions and our national fraternity must do penance for this great sin.  Some demons can only be cast out through prayer and fasting. (Mark 9:29) This is our call to action! Our Lord asked St. Francis to rebuild the Church which was falling into ruin.  Are we called to do anything less as followers of Francis?  Francis lived his vocation authentically as a living example of Gospel Life.  We must do the same.  Only by living an authentic Gospel life will our light shine and the Church be rebuilt.

We must also stand with our brothers and sisters who have and are serving the Church as good and faithful servants.  These men and women who are faithful to their call are now called to be suffering servants.  They are guilty by association with the Church institution that has betrayed their trust.  How difficult it will be for them to preach the Gospel as representatives of a Church that has lost its moral authority in the public square and in the pew.  We must stand by those faithful servants and help them continue to look after the well-being of others.

Sisters and Brothers of the Secular Franciscan Order, we stand in support of the victims and in favor of holding those responsible for these crimes accountable for their actions.  We pray for healing, forgiveness, peace, reconciliation and a Church that will be rebuilt and with God’s grace, and the movement of Holy Spirit, one day, will once again be a beacon of light, hope and refuge.  Let us go forth and witness to the light of Christ and rebuild the Church so that it may once again be full of grace and truth.

The National Executive Council of the Secular Franciscan Order USA (OFS-USA)
August 26, 2018

2018-08-27T11:06:48-04:00August 26th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Padua Program

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Greetings and peace!

Sr. Margaret Carney OSF asked that I share the news about The Padua Program – a program to assist lay women and men who are in positions in Franciscan ministries ( colleges, schools, hospitals, social centers) who have responsibility for promoting the Franciscan mission.  More and more lay persons will be taking the place of retiring sisters, friars, etc.., and those positions would be ideal for prepared members of our OFS family.  Some of you may already be holding such jobs, and this program would be a help to you as well.

I am attaching some documents below that will give you an idea of the scope of the program, along with a link to learn more. Please share the news of this opportunity widely — and quickly —  as the Registration deadline is Sept. 5

Should anyone be interested in more information, you may contact Sr. Margaret Carney directly. Her email is  MCARNEY@sbu.edu

Thank you for your help in increasing awareness of this opportunity.

Peace and good,

Padua Project Brochure

Padua FAQ

Bring the values of St. Francis of Assisi into your organization through The Padua Program, professional development for Mission Integration Officers. 

  • Deepen your knowledge of Francis and Clare
  • Learn how to apply Franciscan values to today’s workplace challenges
  • Acquire skills to use Franciscan economics and to use morals and ethics in decision-making

Learn more at: Summer & Fall 2018 Programs

The Padua Program is a partnership project of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities and St. Bonaventure Institute.

2018-07-27T23:14:52-04:00July 27th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|1 Comment
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