Good Friday Collection for the Holy Land

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

May the peace of Christ be with you!

The Holy Land Friars have contacted me with a special request.   They are begging the help of all Secular Franciscans in promoting the Pontifical Good Friday Collection for the Holy Land.

The needs are many.  Please do what you can to help.  To learn more, see below, or spend some time on their website

Remind others of this special collection, and thank you for your own prayers and financial support.

May the Holy Spirit continue to guide us as we journey together this Lent – and let’s make it a good one!

Peace and Lenten Joy,


The Holy Land Friars:

  • Provide ongoing emergency funds
  • Support 29 Catholic parishes, 4 homes for orphans and 3 academic institutions
  • Operate 16 schools for more than 10,000 pre-K through grade 12 students that are open to all faiths and currently serve Muslims and Jews in addition to the Christians in the Holy Land.
  • Provide university scholarships
  • Relocate and provide homes to Christian families
  • Rehabilitate destroyed homes for Christians families
  • Provide senior care facilities in Bethlehem and Nazareth
  • Create jobs for Christians in the Holy Land
  • Preserve 74 sanctuaries and shrines from the life of Jesus and the prophets
  • Support more than 100 men preparing to be priests or brothers
  • Assist Syrian and Iraqi refugee families in Jordan and Lebanon by helping to pay for rent, food, heat, schooling and transportation.

The Holy Land friars need your help. Syria has been devastated by a conflict that has displaced half of the country’s population. The friars refuse to abandon the Christians and others in need.

Help us raise awareness, prayers and financial support for the friars in Syria, who continue to celebrate Mass, provide pastoral care and offer humanitarian aid – water, medicine, food and more – in the midst of this devastating conflict.

2019-04-16T21:48:35+00:00April 16th, 2019|Categories: Announcements, Minister’s Message|0 Comments

Christmas Messages From Our National and International Ministers

Dearest Sisters and Brothers,
May the peace and joy of Christ fill our hearts!

“How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given!”

These words came to mind as I read the beautiful Christmas letter sent to us today from our brother and General Minister, Tibor Kauser. This letter, with its special message for all Secular Franciscans around the world, is copied below and attached. Please share this letter widely so that it will reach our entire National OFS-USA Family.

Pure Gift.

Oh, the glory of Christmas! So much to hold and ponder in our hearts!

Along with all the members of the National OFS-USA Executive Council, I wish you a Blessed Christmas, filled with exultation! May the song in the night, sung by the angels, be the song in our hearts as we celebrate God’s Gift of Love!

Your sister and minister,


Circ. n. 40/14-20
Prot. n. 3121

Rome, December 24th, 2018

My dear Sisters and Brothers in St. Francis!

May the good Lord give you his peace!

“The day of gladness drew nigh, the time of exultation arrived” (1)

Yes, the day of gladness drew nigh, and it is time to rejoice and to give thanks. God has come to amongst us, God said ‘yes’ to the man. This ‘yes’ has arrived almost unknown, in an unbelievable manner, hidden these things from the wise and the learned …and … revealed them to the childlike. (2) And yes, we see this in St. Francis, and we can see it also today, that the mystery of Christmas is hidden from the wise and revealed to the childlike.

Great things are born in silence. When we are living this season of Advent waiting for the coming of the Lord and celebrating the arrival of our Lord Jesus Christ to the world at Christmas, we often experience the noise and buzz of the world, that is far away from the silence of the stall in Bethlehem. Only a few people knew about what has happened during those days, and thus having the joy of the great act of God: the fullness of times had come! (3)

We have to live Christmas with this experience today, too: we are living in the fullness of times. Christ has come and has remained among us. It is not easy to live this great gift, and today again, it seems that only a few people know about what this gift is really, what we celebrate. Sometimes even we, ourselves forget about it in the midst of the rush of our life, doing our best to prepare everything for the feast, to prepare things that we wish to be signs of our love to one another. We forget about the silence of Bethlehem, that is essential to be able to celebrate the incarnation of the Word of God.

The silence of Bethlehem is a great opposition to the noisy world – rebels, riots, claims, wars, fights in all areas of our societies and even in the Church! We have great concerns about what is happening around us, and it takes our attention, takes our time, takes our power.

But this is the time of exultation! Therefore, I give thanks to the Lord, our God for all the good that he gave us during this year, and I invite you all to live this time of exultation with a full awareness of the presence of God among us. I invite you all to renew our decision to live the fullness of our vocation, and to strive more strongly and more intensely to live that kind of holiness that God has invited us to.

We are frequently tempted to think that holiness is only for those who can withdraw from ordinary affairs to spend much time in prayer. That is not the case. We are all called to be holy by living our lives with love and by bearing witness in everything we do, wherever we find ourselves. …. Are you married? Be holy by loving and caring for your husband or wife, as Christ does for the Church. Do you work for a living? Be holy by laboring with integrity and skill in the service of your brothers and sisters. Are you a parent or grandparent? Be holy by patiently teaching the little ones how to follow Jesus. Are you in a position of authority? Be holy by working for the common good and renouncing personal gain. (4)

At Christmas, this call for holiness is stronger. Stronger, not because God is calling us louder, but because we are going to have a time with more silent moments. We are readier to discover the miracle of God, and to contemplate it in silence. I encourage you with the words of Thomas Merton, who died 50 years ago, but his teaching is still a strong invitation for us:

“There must be a time of day when the man who makes plans forgets his plans and acts as if he had no plans at all. There must be a time of day when the man who has to speak falls very silent. And his mind forms no more propositions, and he asks himself: Did they have a meaning? There must be a time when the man of prayer goes to pray as if it were the first time in his life he had ever prayed; when the man of resolutions puts his resolutions aside as if they had all been broken, and he learns a different wisdom: distinguishing the sun from the moon, the stars from the darkness, the sea from the dry land, and the night sky from the shoulder of a hill.” (5)

This is the kind of silence which lets us celebrate Christmas at the depth of its significance and meaning. God said a ‘yes’ to all men and women, and this ‘yes’ is unconditional. Mary said ‘yes’ to God, and her ‘yes’ is unconditional. It is a good approach to step on the road to holiness to repeat this ‘yes’, unconditionally.

Saying ‘yes’ to God: not only with our prayers, but also with our actions. Saying ‘yes’ to God also means to seek his will, to do his will. And yes, this will give new life to our fraternities, too.

Saying a ‘yes’ to myself: accepting myself as a gift of God to the world, to my family, to my beloved ones, and yes, even to myself. Life is the gift of God, and we have to say ‘yes’ to our lives. We have to accept it with joy together with all our weakness, fragility, difficulties, because it belongs to God. It is right Christmas that shows us the immeasurable value of life, regardless the external circumstances. And yes, this will give new life to our fraternities, too.

Saying ‘yes’ to the neighbor: looking at him as a gift of God. My neighbor is someone, whom God has sent to help me on my road to holiness. All I should do for him, saying ‘yes’ to him unconditionally, will help me to holiness. I invite you to love and act for the poor, the marginalized, the abandoned ones, the orphans, the widows of our times, who are on the edge of the society, or even beyond it. We need all those whom nobody else needs. And yes, this will give new life to our fraternities, too.

For us, secular Franciscan sisters and brothers, this silent celebration of Christmas means the fullness of times, the time of exultation. We always have to seek what is first, and silence always has been first. The world was created in silence. Christ has arrived in silence. Also, Saint Francis has met God first in silence, in the prison, in the St. Damian Church, in the nature, in the solitude.

Let us spend this feast season of Christmas with this exultation, born in silence and in prayer. Let us be aware that the fullness of times had come. Let us get closer to God, closer to our neighbor, and thus also closer to ourselves. Let us be more determined to become holy and let us be more determined to put the incarnated Word of God in the center of our fraternities, local, regional, national and even international. Let us share in the experience of Saint Angela of Foligno: The Incarnation has made two things to us. The first one is, that has filled us with love. The second is that it makes us certain of our salvation. (6)

I give thanks to my God at every remembrance of you, praying always with joy in my every prayer for all of you, because of your partnership for the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right that I should think this way about all of you, because I hold you in my heart. (7)

I wish you all a blessed, holy Christmas, so that you can experience the silence of God, in which the greatest thing has happened: the Word of God has become flesh and dwells among us.

Your brother and your minister,
Tibor Kauser
CIOFS Minister General

1 1Cel85
2 Mt.11.25
3 Gal. 4.4
4 Gaudete et exultate 14.
5 From Thomas Merton: No man is an island
6 12th letter of St.. Angela of Foligno
7 Phil.1.3-7

2018-12-25T00:31:32+00:00December 25th, 2018|Categories: Announcements, CIOFS|0 Comments

Website committee looking for help

Hello everyone,

The national website committee is looking for help with things like moving content from the old site to the new site, site maintenance, and providing live posting and updating support at various national events. Although any help would be welcome, it will be particularly useful if you have experienced with WordPress (especially self-hosted). It would be a real bonus if you were also familiar with:

  • The Avada WordPress theme
  • Fusion Page Builder
  • Basic HTML and CSS

If you are interested in helping out, please send me an email at with a rough idea of how much time you might be able to give to the project as well as an brief description of your experience.

Thank you so much for considering sharing your time and talent with the Order.

Pax et bonum,

2018-11-08T21:17:16+00:00November 8th, 2018|Categories: Announcements, Website Housekeeping|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+00:00October 13th, 2018|Categories: Announcements, National Chapter|5 Comments

Families Crises – A Letter from our National JPIC Animator

Greetings dear National Family!

I pray this finds you well and filled with the Lord’s peace!

If you only have time to skim this letter, please see the highlighted part below.

If you have time to read this entire message, it was written from my heart to yours.

As we continue to celebrate the 40th anniversary of our Holy Rule, I am reminded of our life in fraternity. What a joy and a gift it is to be in fraternity, with family. I, myself, have been welcomed back into fraternity after being without for nearly three years. Yes, I have had my regional and national families, but there is something very special about your own local fraternity. It is the place you are fed and nurtured; it is the warm ground that houses and embodies the seeds for spiritual growth. It is the true foundation of being Franciscan.

I know very well what it feels like to be separated from my Franciscan family. I cannot imagine what it must be like for a child forced to be separated from his or her parents. Our Holy Rule speaks of the family as being the place where we should cultivate the Franciscan spirit of peace, fidelity and respect for life. The family is that sacred and holy ground for cultivating that spirit. And in these times, I do not take that lightly.

I know there are many of our Secular Franciscan brothers and sisters on the ground helping to reunite separated families; working individually and collectively in the forefront, promoting justice by their very courageous actions. We annually recognize someone doing this great work and celebrate them with the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Award. But who are those unnamed Seculars working in this climate of separated families and “zero tolerance” policies?

If you or a fellow Secular is working with other individuals or organizations to help with this current crisis, please let me know.  Please send me a brief description of what you are doing and the organization(s) you are working with – be it a private, public or faith-based organization. If you would email me at ctownes26 @, by this Friday, July 13, 2018, I would really appreciate it.

Please be assured of the prayers of the entire National JPIC Commission as you continue to work for justice in these difficult and trying times. May the Lord continue to give you peace.

Wishing you blessings of peace and all good!

Carolyn D. Townes, OFS
National Animator, Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation
U.S. Secular Franciscan Order

Confirmed and Renewed: Live the Treasure!
Celebrating 40 Years of our Holy Rule

2018-07-12T21:16:53+00:00July 10th, 2018|Categories: Announcements, JPIC|0 Comments

Film recommendation: Pope Francis: A Man of His Word

From our National Minister, Jan Parker, OFS:

It is my heartfelt wish that every Secular Franciscan take any opportunity – or make an opportunity – to see the movie “Pope Francis: A Man of His Word.” It is extraordinary! I came away compelled – realizing I have barely begun to live the Franciscan life I professed. Our mission is stated clearly, passionately – and Pope Francis gives us hope! See it in a theater, if you can. The images unfold beautifully on the big screen.

Jan Parker OFS
National Minister OFS-USA

Official Website:

Director: Wim Wenders
Writer: Wim Wenders

Release Date: May 18, 2018

Runtime: 1hr 36m Synopsis: “Pope Francis – A Man of His Word” is intended to be a personal journey with Pope Francis, rather than a biographical documentary about him. The pope’s ideas and his message are central to this documentary, which sets out to present his work of reform and his answers to today’s global questions.

2018-06-17T17:29:45+00:00June 17th, 2018|Categories: Announcements|3 Comments

Celebrate the Rule with this new CIOFS video

Dear Brothers and Sisters of the OFS of the United States,

CIOFS, our international fraternity, has prepared a special gift for us to help us celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Rule. It is a 12-minute video, entitled, “Forty years of the ‘New’ Rule. A Treasure for the OFS.”  It provides an historical perspective on the Rule of 1978 and a beautiful summary.

Click video to the right to watch the English version right now, right on this page. The links below will take you to each of the four language versions on YouTube. Please send a link to all of your fraternities and members. View the video and celebrate the rule together. Take some time to discuss and contemplate its message. Celebrate this great treasure in your hearts and carry it with you throughout the day.

This video is available in the four official languages:

The code below can be used to embed the videos in a webpage or social media post:

  • English:
    Copy to Clipboard
  • Spanish:
    Copy to Clipboard
  • Italian:
    Copy to Clipboard
  • French:
    Copy to Clipboard
2018-06-14T20:19:42+00:00June 14th, 2018|Categories: Announcements, CIOFS, New Resource|8 Comments

Deadline extended for OFS/FMS trip to Bolivia

Good afternoon, brothers and sisters, and peace be with you!

The registration deadline for the Secular Franciscan trip to Bolivia has been extended to June 15.  This trip, led by Franciscan Mission Service for our Order, is from August 25 to September 2.  We need just a couple more registrations to reach the minimum necessary for the the trip to go forward.  Please consider this opportunity to visit one of the oldest mission sites for FMS, and to learn about our sisters and brothers in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

The flyer can be downloaded here; the new deadline is June 15.

Patrick Martin, ofs

2018-05-30T19:12:42+00:00May 30th, 2018|Categories: Announcements|0 Comments

The new Secular Franciscan USA website is now online!

We’re pleased and excited to announce that our new national website is now online and ready for visitors. Thanks to everyone who helped to make this possible with their prayers and hard work.

One small caveat: Every newly launched website is a work in progress. We are still in the process of moving the vast collection of material stored on the old website over to the new one. If you can’t find something that you are looking for, you should be able to find it at the old site as no content has been removed from it. If there is something that you feel should be made a priority in the moving process, please let us know using the contact form. We will also continue to tweak the overall layout and functioning of the site once we get a chance to see it in action.

If you are the administrator of a Franciscan website, please be sure update your link to our site to:

Pax et bonum!

2018-05-03T20:23:43+00:00April 30th, 2018|Categories: Announcements, Website Housekeeping|5 Comments