Not Quite Monks, Not Quite Nuns
When we hear the work “Franciscan,” our thoughts usually turn to a short, round monk in a brown robe with a rope tied around his waist. This makes sense as the first Order of Franciscans, the Order of Friars Minor, are usually the most visible. They wear a brown habit and a rope cincture (cord) around their waist, tied in three knots representing their vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. These men are religious brothers and priests, members of this first order started by St. Francis.
Secular Franciscans are not monks. The second order of Franciscans founded by St. Francis (and St. Clare) over 800 years ago is the Poor Clares. These women are religious sisters. They, too, wear a brown habit with a rope cincture. The also wear a white gimp (headpiece) and a black veil, and take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
Secular Franciscans are not nuns. Secular Franciscans are men and women, married and single, living in secular life. We have jobs, homes, cars, hobbies and families. Francis founded our third order with the intention of having men and women who can evangelize in everyday life.
Our secular place in life puts us in unique positions to lead by example, offer spiritual counsel and serve the people of God. We do not take vows. We promise to live the Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order, a way of life, preaching the Gospel by example in our daily lives.