|St. Francis of Assisi|
Much later, a classification of the different types of followers of Francis became established. The 'First Order' referred, of course, to the men who as priests or lay brothers, took the vows of religion in Francis's company. The 'Second Order' referred to the women who, under Saint Clare, lived the same rule in the cloister. The 'Third Order' naturally became the name of this loose grouping of lay followers in the world, comprising both men and women. This innovation was later to be imitated by orders." Thus, the "Third Order" movement, born out of the Franciscan Family, was also born out of the "penitential movement" of the time, and became a great source of holiness and apostolic work for lay men and lay women - married and single - who were not called to the First Order or Second Order of the Franciscan Religious Life. Yet, history also shows that as the Third Order grew and developed, new forms of consecrated religious life for men and women grew from this lay movement, even as it continued to grow and develop. Thus, we have many congregations of men and women religious who live according to the rule of the "Third Order of Saint Francis."
|Farewell Gathering at St. Bart's for Brother Paul|
In the Diocese where I grew up we have the "Hospital Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis", and in our Diocese we are greatly blessed by the presence of the "Third Order Regular" Franciscan Friars. And, it is in this context that I wish to publicly acknowledge the blessing of their community in our parishes and institutions, and especially thank Brother Paul McMullen TOR, as he completes his term as Pastoral Administrator of St. Bartholomew parish here in Fort Worth, and will be on a well deserved sabbatical this fall, returning to our Diocese after that to minister in another capacity. Brother Paul's teaching and leadership and pastoral care has been a great blessings to our Diocese in many ways over the years - at St. John's parish, later at St. George, and most recently at St. Bartholomew. I very much enjoyed a reflection he gave one evening on the rule of the Third Order. Recently, I attended two events back to back at "St. Bart's", the second of which was an overflow crowd for his going away reception. Thank you, Brother Paul, for your leadership, your Franciscan vocation, and your teaching and pastoral care. "Peace and All Good" and we look forward to our counting association with you in your ministry.