Secular Franciscans Change Acronym

Jocelyn Thomas In the Headlines

NEW YORK — The Secular Franciscan Order has announced a change in the language used to identify its members.

At the General Chapter of the Secular Franciscan Order in October, it was decided that the acronym to be used when signing one’s name is to be OFS, not SFO. “The reason is that the SFO presidency wants to unify everything throughout the world being that the official name of the Order in Latin is Ordo Franciscanus Saecularis,” said Richard Trezza, OFM, HNP spiritual director for the Secular Franciscan Order.

“Here in the United States, the Order will continue to be known as the Secular Franciscan Order and its members will continue to be known as Secular Franciscans. Only the initials have changed,” Richard said.

The previous acronym had been used since 1978, said Trezza, who has worked with the Order since 1968.

A recent email from Thomas Bello, OFS, national minister, notified the Secular Franciscans of the change.

“When we use English, we are still the Secular Franciscan Order,” he said on Jan. 18. “As all of us know, we are experiencing language changes in how we celebrate Mass. I am absolutely certain that it is still the same Lord and Savior that I receive at Holy Communion.”

Bello distributed a document that was approved at the last international chapter in Brazil. It is signed by the general minister of the Secular Franciscan Order, also called the Third Order of St. Francis.

The Secular Franciscan Order, an official Order within the Catholic Church, was established by St. Francis of Assisi early in the 13th century.  “Ordinarily, we do not live in community; rather, we live with our families and perform our jobs out in the world, gathering in fraternities on a regular basis,” according to the website of the National Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order.

“You will see in the official document the words ‘Secular Franciscan Order’ still used when referring to our Order in English, as well as ‘Secular Franciscans’ still used when referring to us,” Bello said. “I am absolutely certain that OFS and SFO does not make me or any of us less Franciscan. We are still permanently professed. Our Order is still in English the Secular Franciscan Order.”

The announcement was made last month in an email from the general minister of the Secular Franciscan Order.

— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.