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Nick explains how and why he became a member of the Franciscan Third Order, shares what Franciscan spirituality is and means to him, and describes other Third Orders within the Catholic Church.

The Franciscan Third Order

by | Nick's Notes

October 4 each year is the Feast of St. Francis, and since that is just a few days away, I thought now a good opportunity to share how I came to encounter Jesus in the vocation of being a Third Order Franciscan.

As the saying goes: “Man plans and God laughs.”

As I was growing up, I had heard of St. Francis of Assisi, but pretty much all I knew was that he was the patron saint of animals. It wasn’t until my early twenties that I began to learn more about the Franciscan Order; especially the Franciscan Third Order: the Order of Franciscans Secular, or OFS, whose web site is here.

In 1999, after I left Canada and moved to Pensacola, Florida, I learned about the Franciscan Order and the more intimate details about St. Francis of Assisi through Mother Angelica and the other EWTN hosts. One day on EWTN, I heard a series dedicated to the different spiritual movements within the Catholic Church. I absorbed the information like a sponge and knew I had to discern which spirituality God might be calling me to embrace. I researched every spiritual movement I could, and eventually discovered that the Franciscan spirituality was for me. I connected with my local Third Order Franciscan Fraternity and began my formation to prepare to enter the OFS.

The more I studied the Franciscan spirituality, the more I wanted to make a formal commitment to become a Secular Franciscan!

I made my profession as a Secular Franciscan in Houston, Texas, on November 17, 2007. Jesus confirmed for me that I was truly called to be a Franciscan as my profession took place on the Feast of St. Elizabeth of Hungary; which connected to my own Hungarian heritage. St. Elizabeth of Hungary was also a Third Order Franciscan and is the patron of the OFS.  Through this personal connection to St. Elizabeth, I saw my Franciscan vocation was truly from Christ, and in a way, my destiny!

My journey to the Franciscan Third Order taught me the beauty and importance of the gift of Third Orders in the Catholic Church. There are many people in the Church who wish they could have been a priest or a nun but were called to marriage or single life. I have discovered how the Third Orders enable the laity to live a life deeply connected to the spirituality of a specific Religious Order and supports them in living out this spirituality in the context of their everyday life. I believe Third Orders are essential to the new Springtime of the Church which St. Pope John Paul II often spoke about. I encourage every Catholic to consider in their discernment the possibility that God may be calling them to join a third order; especially the Franciscan spirituality of us secular Franciscans.

As masculinity today is under attack by satanic forces we need strong men today to stand up for the Faith and be committed to living out their faith in a serious way. I believe third orders are an invaluable gift to the Church and a great aid for many men to support them in radically living out their faith seriously. Embracing the spirituality of a specific saint, such as St. Francis of Assisi, is a great gift which enables the Church to be renewed and our society sanctified. Just like there are countless flavors of ice-cream, the Holy Spirit has brought about multiple different forms of Third Order spiritualities, which focus on different dimensions of our Catholic Faith and help enrich the lives of the faithful and carry the life of the Church into every corner of the world. The better-known tertiary Franciscans, Dominicans, and Benedictines are popular, but the Augustinian, Carmelite, Mercedarian, Minim, Servites, Marist, Norbertines, and Trinitarian Third Orders are rich in their promotion and support of the spirituality of their members, too.

On October 4, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, I pray that the Holy Spirit may not only inspire more men to become a part of the Third Order Franciscans but also inspire many men to embrace the rich spirituality of the many third orders that are in the Catholic Church.


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Nicholas Kovacs, OFS

Nicholas Kovacs, OFS

HOO™ Writer | Catechist | Independent Author

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