By Dan McWilliams
The Sts. Francis and CThe Sts. Francis and Clare Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order reached a milestone July 27 when it was established canonically during a Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral.
Father Linus DeSantis, OFM Conv, regional spiritual assistant for the Brothers and Sisters of St. Francis Region of the Secular Franciscans the region that includes the Sts. Francis and Clare Fraternity celebrated the Mass. Also present was regional minister Jerry Rousseau.
The Mass “signifies that we’ve become a fully recognized fraternity within the Secular Franciscan Order,” said the fraternity’s minister, Nancy Singh. “We’re fully linked to the Franciscans.”
During the Mass, Father DeSantis signed the document of establishment, witnessed by Mrs. Singh and Ann Pavur, wife of the fraternity’s late minister emeritus, Carol Paul Pavur, who died June 30.
Mrs. Singh compared the Franciscan order to a tree.
“The stalk would be Francis, and the branches would be the first, second, and third orders,” she said. “Secular Franciscans are like the third branch of the Franciscan order.”
With Secular Franciscans, “it’s not what we do, it’s who we become,” Mrs. Singh said. “We follow St. Francis through our Rule and live our spirituality in our secular lives. When we profess, our profession is from Gospel to life and from life to the Gospel.”
Any layperson can be a Secular Franciscan, “as long as they’re in good standing with the Church,” Mrs. Singh said.
The Sts. Francis and Clare fraternity draws from a wide area and is not parish-based.
“People come from all over the diocese to be members of our fraternity,” Mrs. Singh said.
Members of the Sts. Francis and Clare Fraternity are Faye Martin, spiritual assistant; Mrs. Singh; Terry Paradis, vice minister; Janette Irwin, formation director; Paul Carter, treasurer; Jean Schneider, secretary; Pat Johnson and Mary Ramsey, councilors; Pat Carrasco and Kristen von Clef, professed members; and Susan McMillan, Addie Lackovic, Vonnie Spicer, Paul Rock, Linda Silva, and Deborah Stevens, candidates.
The Sts. Francis and Clare sponsoring fraternity at the Mass was the Channel of Peace Fraternity of Chattanooga, members of which attended the liturgy.