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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 well!)
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 franciscan 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 is A Franciscan Way . This is available in booklet form, please print out the order form.

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.


General Information about this site from: websterssf@franciscans.org.uk

Copyright © 1998-2010 Society of Saint Francis, European Province

CSF European Province First Order Sisters: Registered Charity Number 286615
SSF European Province First Order Brothers: Registered Charity Number 236464
SSF Central Fund (for supporting SSF worldwide): Registered Charity Number 280238