"IN THE WORLD, BUT NOT OF IT, FOR CHRIST."
The Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis is a private Association of the Catholic Church whose members strive to model their lives according to the Rule and Statutes of the Primitive Rule of the Third Order of St. Francis, which was written for lay people in 1221 at the request of St. Francis of Assisi.
The Association was born from the original Rule of the Third Order of St. Francis as contained in the Franciscan Omnibus of Sources and the resultant Stella Matutina movement in the Secular Franciscan Order in Minnesota in the late 1980's under the guidance of Father Valerius Messerich O.F.M.. It was formally recognized in 1996 in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis with the blessing, encouragement and support of Archbishop Harry J. Flynn. The Archbishop further honored the Association by accepting the first formal professions of the first members who completed formation in Minnesota in 2003. Now both the Association and the Rule of life have been informally approved by several bishops of the Roman Catholic Church in various dioceses across the United States, and other countries. Every bishop who has been introduced to the Brothers and Sisters of Penance has supported the movement as a definitive return to the Gospel life.
As an Association The Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis is open to all Catholics including Third Order members, oblates, and members of other Catholic lay movements and Associations. We draw no lines on membership. However, although our vision, mission, spirituality and formation is deeply founded in the mystery and beauty of the life of St. Francis, the Association is not connected to the Franciscan Orders in any formal way.
Our members must adhere to all the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and the magisterium. They live the life of penance of the Rule of 1221 in their own homes, as that is how St. Francis wanted it. Archbishop Roger Schwietz of Anchorage, when first exposed to the movement, said "this is good and holy". No one has ever said it was easy. It is a demanding lifestyle, of prayer, penance, and increasing simplicity and poverty, but the rewards are sweet, vast, and eternal for those who persist. It is a gift we bring to God.
The life of penance is to be lived quietly, so as to be virtually invisible to those around us. However, it is lived and shared in the faithful community of members in this Association. Chapters of members can form in any community, and with the communication systems of today it is intended that there be no isolated members in the Association.
With God, there are no coincidences. God has brought you to this site. Review the site prayerfully, and seek an answer in your heart to the Lord's call, as He made to his first disciples', "Come after me…" (Matt. 4:21). He calls us all. Perhaps He wishes to use your interest in this Association to draw you into a deeper union with Himself. Spend time at this web site, read our Rule and Statutes, and ask God to guide you into His perfect plan for your life.