Frequently Asked Questions - Franciscans of Life - Vita ad Vitam Vocat
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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Who are the Franciscans of Life

A. The Franciscans of Life are a brotherhood of men who seek to follow Christ by walking  in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi in service of the voiceless. The Society is to be comprised of regular and extern brothers who form one family as did the first Franciscans founded in Assisi in 1209.

Q. What does FFV mean?

A. FFV is the abbreviation for the Society's name in Latin, Fratres Franciscani Vitae. Every Franciscan of life is entitled to sign these letters after his name once he becomes a novice.

Q. What is the mission and vision of the FFV?

A. The mission and vision of the FFV is to become saints. Every brother embarks on a journey that leads to the Father by following Christ, guided by the Holy Spirit. To follow Christ more closely, the brothers look to Brother Francis of Assisi who became the Mirror of Perfection. St. Francis sets the example for us on how to follow Christ. Just as Christ obeyed even unto death, so too St. Francis teaches us to obey as Christ obeyed and to accept suffering and penance as Christ did, for our sins and those who do not to penance. Just as Christ was the firstborn among many brothers and served his brothers, especially the voiceless, the Franciscans of Life seek to serve Christ who is present in the voiceless of this world.

Q. Who are the voiceless?

A. There are many people in the world in whom Christ dwells without a voice. The FFV pays special attention to the preborn child and his family; the chronically and terminally ill and their families and caregivers, and the immigrant poor who feels hopeless.

Q. Who can join the Franciscans of Life?

A. Membership to the Franciscans of Life is limited to Catholic males age 18 and older who are in full communion with the Catholic Church and with the local Ordinary. If the candidate is married, he must be sacramentally married. Candidates with dependent children can become extern brothers. When the children become independent, the candidate can become a regular brother. 

Q. What is the commitment?

A. Having completed postulancy and novitiate, the Franciscan of Life makes his profession. The extern brother makes a solemn promise to observe the Rule and Constitutions for one year, renewing it annually for life. The regular brother makes private vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience to the Rule and Constitutions, renewing them annually for life, and a fourth vow to do penance in atonement for the culture of death.

The brothers also consecrate themselves to the Immaculate following the program of St. Maximilian Kolbe.

Q. I am unsure if I am called to be a Franciscan of Life, but I would like to find out. What should I do? 

A. Membership in any institute is gradual.

The Church in her wisdom has designed the process to be a deliberate and gentle process of discernment. We take things in baby steps or we go as quickly as you can go. 

The first step is to become an aspirant - a man who walks with the brothers as he discerns his vocation in life. Aspirancy lasts up to 6 months, and it can be terminated at any time.

If you continue, you can request to be admitted to postulancy. During this time, from 6 to 12 months, the candidate attends classes, meetings and works in the ministry with the fraternity. The focus of this time is to try himself and grow in Christian spirituality, especially prayer and charity and to learn the externals of the Franciscan life. He discerns under the guidance of the Immaculate, the formator, his confessor and spiritual director.

Q. How long is the formation period?

A. Formation is a discernment period. It comes in stages. 

Aspirancy - The man walks with the brothers as he discerns his vocation in life. An aspirant is a man who aspires to find the will of God for his life, whether it be with our community or elsewhere. He attends our weekly family meetings, and the brothers provide fraternal support while on the journey in search for the Lonely Christ. This period can last up to 6 months and can be interrupted at any time, when the aspirant and the superior discern that it is appropriate to do so.

Postulancy - During this time the brother learns more about the fraternity and gets to experience ministry. It is an opportunity to grow in his knowledge of the faith and to discern if Christ is calling him to the next step. Postulancy lasts from 6 to 12 months, and can be extended to 18 months. 

Novitiate - During this year, the brother lives the Franciscan life, either in a community with other brothers or within his context. He is a member of the society.

Profession - Having completed novitiate, the brother makes his profession before the Superior General and binds himself one year at a time.

Q. What are the education requirements?

A. A college degree is not a rigid requirement. It is preferred, because it makes it easier for the study of theology and philosophy. Many people can do it without the degree. It is more important that a man be able to learn what the Church teaches and how to do our work.

Q. What is the relationship between the Franciscans of Life and the greater Franciscan Order? 

A. There are two parts to this.

First, because the founder of the Franciscans of Life is a professed member of the Franciscan family, the FFV has "Franciscan Succession". It is an outgrowth from the Franciscan family, rather than a community with no roots. 

Secondly, it must be an autonomous society that governs itself, as do any of the other branches of the Franciscan family. However, it seeks to maintain a fraternal and cooperative relationship with other Franciscans. Every branch of the Franciscan family is legally autonomous, but all are related through the same spiritual father, St. Francis of Assisi and the observance of one of his four rules.

Q. Which of Francis' rules does the FFV follow?

A. St. Francis wrote four rules.

The first rule is the Rule of the Friars Minor, written for male religious only. The second rule is the Rule of the Poor Sisters, which St. Clare revised. Today it is known as the Rule of St. Clare. Cloistered Franciscan nuns follow it. The third rule is the Rule for Hermitages, which anyone can follow, if he is incorporated into one of the Franciscan communities and has the permission of his superior to do so.

The fourth rule is the Rule of the Brothers and Sisters of Penance. This rule was written in 1221 for secular men who were either married, clerics or both and for male and female religious. The FFV follows the Rule of the Brothers and Sisters of Penance, also known as the Rule of Penance. This rule allows us to have brothers who live in the secular world and brothers who live in community and embrace the evangelical counsels in private vows, all forming one fraternity with equal rights, duties and responsibilities.

Q. What is the FFV's canonical standing?

A. Founded in 2009, the FFV is a private association of the faithful in the Archdiocese of Miami, but not part of the Archdiocese of Miami. Our Catholic fraternity has the permission of the Archbishop of Miami and the Vicar for Religious to:

a. Recruit members

b. Freely exercise its ministry to the voiceless

c. Open houses for those brothers who are called to live in community

d. Witness the profession of private vows of its members

e. Establish its own formation program

f. Own property and have its own funds according to the norms of the Constitutions.

While the FFV holds itself accountable to the Ordinary of the diocese, it is not a diocesan association. When the time is right, the Archbishop can erect it as a public association of the faithful.

Q. Who is the highest authority in the FFV?

A. For the purpose of order and continuity, every organization and institute has its own form of government. Canon Law, the rule and constitution are the highest legal authorities in the FFV. In the Franciscan tradition, Francis of Assisi is the highest-ranking authority after the popes and the bishops. All Franciscans are subject to his rule, his spirituality, his mission and vision. His successors are called the General Minister or simply the Superior General. A canonically elected superior is the legitimate successor of St. Francis to whom all the members of the fraternity owe loving obedience, respect, and attention, as they would show to our Holy Father Francis.

Q. What is the role of the Superior?

A. The role of the Superior, known in our family the Guardian, is to guide the brothers toward Christ, animate them to live the Gospel in the manner that St. Francis lived it, protect them from anything or anyone that may do damage to their spiritual lives, offer them support in time of need, be an attentive ear when they need to talk, correct them when necessary, and ensure that the entire fraternity functions as one brotherhood according to the spirit of St. Francis and the constitutions of the Society and be Francis to the community.Superiors do not govern in a vacuum. They are guided by natural law, moral law, Canon Law, the Holy See, the bishops, the founder's wishes and vision, and the constitutions as approved by the lawful authorities in the Church. The superior cannot govern beyond those parameters to safeguard the rights of the members of the institute. 


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