Nils Thompson OFM, former General Assistant SFO


Herbert Schneider, OFM, served at the Curia as General Delegate of the Office "Pro Monialibus" (for the Cloistered Franciscan Sisters) and "OCIF" (the OFM contact with the Sisters and Brothers of the Third Order Regular of Penance). I asked Herbert to write this in order to encourage Spiritual Assistants to teach Secular Franciscans specifically about the Cloistered Second Order, who are essentially a part of the Franciscan Family. Our Secular Brothers and Sisters can be encouraged to develop the contemplative dimension of their life in Jesus Christ, as did St. Francis and St. Clare.




Herbert Schneider, OFM


The Secular Franciscan Order, the Friars Minor, and the Poor Clares share the same vocation: to give the answer of love (Kajetan Esser OFM) to the kenosis (descending to us) of the Son of God in Jesus Christ because he loves our love. Therefore they make conversion to Christ, especially in order to descend with him to the world and to humankind in poverty, humility and love, so that they may ascend with Christ to God and his eternal love.


I observe above all two characteristics of the contribution of the Poor Clares to the Secular Franciscans. The Poor Clares, because they are always present at home, can give a loving welcome to the SFO and the Secular Franciscans know how to appreciate it.


1. Contemplation and World


When I went to Mexico to visit the Poor Clares, there was a common meeting of Poor Clares, Friars Minor, and Secular Franciscans with me. The one who addressed greetings to me was the President of the SFO. I was astonished. But then I understood: the SFO knows how to organize meetings. The Secular Franciscans know the world, live in it and know the dimensions of "worldly" life.


But, being "in the world" they are also aware of the Christ's presence in the world. For this especially the Poor Clares help the SFO: their life is to be always aware of Christ. This is contemplation.


Hence, we can say that the Poor Clares in their contemplation offer the awareness of Christ and the Secular Franciscans grow in this awareness of Christ in the world. The vocation of the Secular Franciscans is in the world, in which all Franciscans, Seculars, Friars and Sisters, will discover and accept Christ. In all this they will give in their daily life and struggle, the answer of love.


2. Mysteries and Humanity.


I visited the Poor Clares in Africa, in Lilongwe, Malawi. On Sunday morning the church of the Sisters was full of SFO members. They contributed actively to the Holy Mass by songs and services. Their togetherness with the Poor Clares was the weekly starting point for their engagement in human relationships and the problems of life.


When speaking with some members of the SFO after Mass, I observed that they - humanly speaking - were developed people. Taking part in the very elaborate liturgy of the Poor Clares made them a special group formed in human behavior and service to others. They became more aware of God's loving presence in Jesus Christ, to humankind and to every single person.




Because the Poor Clares are present before the Lord day and night, they offer their other Franciscan brothers and sisters a home and a welcome in Christ. Therefore we are very grateful to the Poor Clares, who offer this sisterly welcome to their brothers and sisters of the other Institutes of the Franciscan Family.