Basic Information about SSF . . .
The Society of Saint Francis is a religious order in the Anglican Communion.
It is comprised of the First Order:
for men (Society of Saint Francis, SSF – a bit confusing because it is the name of the umbrella organisation as
and for women, (Community of Saint Francis, CSF);
the Second Order for women (Community of Saint Clare, OSC);
and the Third Order of men and women in the ordinary walks of life (TSSF).
It is involved in the contemporary world seeking to promote unity and reconciliation, and caring for the underprivileged.
It is committed to the spiritual search in the Christian tradition, and seeks to follow the way of Saint Francis
of Assisi in humility, love and joy.
The First Order
The brothers are organised into four Provinces:
European (about 65 members, in various stages of commitment);
Province of the Americas
(about 14 members); Australia /
New Zealand (about 14 members); Pacific Islands (about 70 members).
The sisters have two Provinces, European (about 24 members) and
Province of the Americas
(about 7 members). Each Province has its own elected Minister Provincial and Provincial Chapter.
The brothers in all Provinces elect a Minister General; similarly the sisters elect their Minister General.
Elected representatives from each Provincial Chapter, together with the two Ministers General and the Ministers
Provincial meet triennially at the First Order Chapters. Each Province has a Bishop Protector, one of whom is Protector
General of the whole Society.
People are welcome to stay at most of our houses, especially the larger ones, by
arrangement with the Guest brother or sister.
The First Order in the European Province publishes a magazine called
three times a year, which gives the community addresses for all the Provinces.
franciscan is obtained
from the Friary, Hilfield, Dorchester, Dorset DT2 7BE, and is also available at most of our houses and some religious
bookshops. The current price for the year is £6.00. Our current brochure
A Franciscan Way . This is available in
booklet form, please print out the order
SSF is served by several registered charitable trusts, to which money can be covenanted or donated. Some sisters
and brothers work voluntarily and some have full- or part-time paid jobs.
The Second Order in the European Province is a community of sisters who live the enclosed
life in an Oxfordshire village. Further information is available from: The Abbess OSC, Saint Mary’s Convent, Freeland,
Witney, Oxford, OX8 8AJ.
The Third Order in the European Province has about 1800 members. It has its own
Officers and is organised in Regions and Areas. Each applicant works out a Rule of Life appropriate to their situation,
each is responsible to a spiritual director and to the other members. They review and renew their Rule each year.
They meet in groups at least annually and each expects to go on an annual retreat.
Companions are pledged to pray for the Society of Saint Francis, its three
Orders, and to live simply and make Christ known to others. Some Companions meet in Areas and have Area Officers.
All Enquiries should be addressed to: The Secretary for Companions, 10, Halcrow
Street, Stepney, London E1 2EP.
Our roots are in the gospels and other Christian scriptures and in the life and tradition of the Church. More
particularly, they are found in the lives and writings of Saint Francis and Saint Clare, and in the lives and writings
of those who followed Jesus in their spirit, some of whom founded religious Orders.
The Society of Saint Francis is much more recent in its foundation.
The story of CSF is written up in Corn of Wheat
by Sister Elizabeth CSF, (Becket Publications, 1981) Unfortunately, this is out
of print and there are no copies available for sale.
Dr Petà Dunstan has written the story of SSF in This Poor Sort (Darton, Longman
and Todd, 1997, £19.95).
Other brothers and sisters have written books which are listed in the above.
The communities use The Daily Office SSF (a version of Celebrating Common Prayer) which was produced in 1992 in collaboration with the Church
of England Liturgical Commission. It is available from Hilfield Friary bookshop (price £12.50 +
£3.20 p&p). It
shows our basic spirituality and includes prayers of Saint Francis and our Principles.
We don’t usually accept novices before the age of twenty-one years or after forty-five years. They need to be
emotionally and physically robust; there are no educational qualifications; applicants are normally practising
Anglicans. People wanting to know more about joining should to write to the Novice
Guardian CSF or to the Novice Guardian SSF. They
will be asked to visit some of our houses and to stay for periods, before the process of discernment of vocation
is brought to decision. If accepted, there is about a six-month postulancy before a three-year noviciate period,
during which time the commitment can be terminated by either side. If elected by the Provincial Chapter, novices
make profession of the three vows (poverty, chastity and obedience) and, after a further period, of from three
to seven years, proceed to life profession.