Please join Franciscan Mission Service in congratulating Lynn and Joel on their recent profession with the Secular Franciscan Order!
Please see below for Lynn’s reflections on their journey to become Secular Franciscans:
On April 13, 2019, my husband, Joel Vaughn, and I, along with three other candidates, were perpetually professed as Secular Franciscans (OFS) at the Capuchin College in Washington, D.C. One well-wisher sent me a card offering congratulations for becoming a Franciscan oblate. As oblates are affiliated with religious orders, and Secular Franciscans are incorporated into the Secular Order, this was not exactly true. Further, Secular Franciscans make a perpetual commitment to follow the Franciscan Rule and Constitutions. Secular Franciscans have been a part of the Franciscan family since 1209, when St. Francis himself founded a third order for the laity, and his rule has been revised to meet the needs of the time in 1289, 1883, and 1978, as approved by the Pope. The promises that Joel and I made that day seem to us as real as our marriage vows.
Joining the Franciscan Mission Service (FMS) almost ten years ago gave Joel and me a sense of belonging to a Franciscan community. As part of our 3-month missioner training and formation, FMS invited us to serve at local nonprofits. When we arrived at the Father McKenna Center, to volunteer there, the workers there would shout out, “The Franciscans are coming!” That was my first inkling that I would become a Franciscan.
As Joel and I served as FMS lay missioners in Bolivia (Class 25, 2009-2012) with the Franciscan brothers and sisters, we began to understand how it felt to be a part of this joyous, unassuming group of people who simply followed in the steps of Jesus.
Returning to the United States, I did not know what to expect out of reverse mission. I only knew that I wanted to continue to live and work within a Franciscan community. Gradually, when I found the St. Francis fraternity at the Capuchin College, it dawned on me: This is the place where I belong, where I can live like Francis and be with others whose lives embody Gospel living. Joining the Third Order Secular Franciscans gave me back my sense of being part of the Franciscan family that I had enjoyed in Bolivia, both a continuum and a brand-new beginning.
The process of formation begins with a 3-month orientation, followed by a 6-month to 9-month period of inquiry, followed by a period of candidacy lasting between 18 to 36 months. During that time, the candidates learn about the Rule and Constitutions of the Secular Franciscan Order. It was important to Joel and me that the laity were seen as brothers and sisters in the Franciscan family as a whole. Our formation group had a spiritual assistant, a friar, who answered our questions and supported us in every way. A seasoned and dedicated Secular Franciscan coordinated our meetings as well. Although we met with the entire fraternity once a month, along with the friars at Mass, we studied the Rule of Francis and the Constitutions, discerning our call to live like Francis in this community of Secular Franciscans.
The Order of Secular Franciscans is not for everybody, but after serving with Franciscans in Bolivia, with Fr. Ignatius Harding, OFM, and feeling so supported by the Franciscan family there, Joel and I needed to be a part of a spiritual community in the United States. As one of the newer Franciscan Secular candidates has put it, “Sometimes, just going to Mass isn’t enough.” So, for some of us, the Secular Franciscan Order is a spiritual community where we can thrive and grow.