St Francis of Assisi (1182 – 1226) gathered with him many persons who wanted to follow the Gospel in his way of simplicity, poverty, holiness and joyful obedience to the Lord. Thus he founded the First Franciscan Order, the Order of Friars Minor, his Rule based on the Gospel and confirmed with the papal seal in Rome (Pope Honorius III (1223)). There were also some women who wanted to live the same Gospel Life, starting with St Clare of Assisi, so he founded a Second Order, the Order of the Poor Clares.
But through his inspired preaching, many people who lived in the world and could not leave their family and civil responsibilities, wanted to join him. So, St Francis established for them a Third Order and also wrote a Rule for them. They were known as the ‘Brothers and Sisters of Penance.’ Since then, the Franciscan Third Order (now known as the Franciscan Secular Order or, in Latin, ‘Ordo Franciscanus Saecularis’ (OFS)) has grown throughout the world, today numbering millions. It comprises single and married people, lay persons and diocesan clergy, all kinds of professions and workers, who remain in their station of life. Even popes belonged to the Third Order, for instance, Pope Leo XIII and Pope St Pius X; other famous Franciscan Tertiaries include the explorer Christopher Columbus, St Elizabeth of Hungary, St Louis IX of France, the poet Dante.
The Franciscan Secular Order is an Order recognised by the Holy See, from the beginning. It has its own Rule, the Rule of St Francis (revised in 1978 under Pope Paul VI, to adapt to modern times); it is an independent organisation, subject to the Church, with its headquarters in Rome, and is under the spiritual assistance of the First Franciscan Order. There is a specified period of Enquiry (4-6 months), followed by Admission, then at least one year of Novitiate, leading to Permanent Franciscan Profession. Only those who follow this Formation programme can become members of the OFS Fraternity.
In Cyprus, the Franciscan Third Order was active during the 1940’s in Nicosia and in Limassol. During the early 1990’s efforts were made to revive the Order in Limassol, and it was re-established in Nicosia in the year 2000. In 2010, a small OFS Fraternity started in Larnaca, and in July 2012, another one began in Paphos. There are therefore now three “emerging” fraternities on the island. The local Fraternity Councils, consisting of Minister, Vice-minister, Secretary, Treasurer and Formation Person, are elected every three years. The National OFS Council of Cyprus is responsible for international communications and overall national supervision. The National Spiritual Assistant gives spiritual direction and pastoral care to all the island’s OFS Fraternities and members.
The traditional Franciscan greeting is PAX ET BONUM -“Peace and Goodness”:
Fr Umberto Barato ofm
Cyprus, 2 July 2012
The Holy Cross OFS fraternity council, Nicosia:
- Minister: Anecita Tarcuan osf (99/829653)
- Vice-minister: Vangie Inosanto osf (96/732145)
- Secretary: Remelyn Pelobello osf (99/783723)
- Treasurer: Emma Awitan osf (97/798278)
- Formation: Lorenza Male osf (99/784726)
National minister: Mr. Bob French osf (Paphos) (99/316485)
National spiritual assistant: Fr. Umberto Barato ofm (Larnaca) (99/214463)