The origins of the Third Order may be found in the movement known as the Penitents, going back to the sixth century. The original Penitents were people who sought to grow in
holiness through their daily lives and work
This desire for holiness assumed many forms, such as pilgrimages to holy sites; constructing, repairing and rebuilding churches; and caring for the poor and sick. The first Franciscans were, in fact, known as "penitents of Assisi." Men and women who were attracted by Francis' way of life, but could not leave their homes and families to become wandering preachers or cloistered nuns, banded together. Thus the Third Order was
This original Third Order had several names, from the Brothers and Sisters of Penitence to Third Order of St Francis, originally both lay orders. Today the Third Order exists in two
forms, the original lay order, now the Secular Franciscan Order and it also exists as the Third Order Regular, (the friars, both priests and brothers TOR and 400+ communities of
religious sisters that follow the regular rule for vowed religious).
In each instance, the call to conversion and simplicity of life animates the members: In the Secular Franciscan Order, men and women follow the way of Francis, but are not vowed religious living in community.
St. Francis of Assisi Fraternity is part of the La Verna Region of Secular Franciscan Fraternities.
Secular Franciscans follow the OFS rule that requires us to spend time in community with our Franciscan brothers and sisters.
We gather at least monthly. We support each other through the ups and downs of daily life. We pray together. We take opportunities to learn about our Church, our community and
Our rule mandates us to be involved in apostolic ministries and with youth. When we are called to action, we embrace the call joyfully. Some of us are religious education teachers, some have a special ministry to animals, some have made a commitment to Perpetual Adoration. Some work with the poor and homeless.
As a fraternity, we take action on issues that affect the lives of others. We do letter-writing campaigns in response to social justice issues; we support the efforts of our brothers and sisters
who are serving the poor and lepers halfway around the world.
St. Francis of Assisi Fraternity has members who work with Franciscan Peacemakers whose ministry reaches out to those who engage in prostitution in the streets of Milwaukee. We offer support for their work through their Gifts for the Journey collection. Our fraternity also works with other ministries in the Milwaukee area, including CROP Walk, St. Ben's Community Meal Program, Repairers of the Breach, and the VA Hospital.
We invite you to visit us to see what fraternity life can offer to you.