What does a private Association of the Faithful mean? Is this a closed group?
The Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis is not a closed group. Anyone can live a life of penance and may become a member of the Association in some way. Associations in the Church fall into two groups–private and public. Public associations are subject to a diocese in all regards. Private associations have greater freedom for self determination. We are a private Association at the recommendation of our local diocese at this time with its support. We are listed in the national Official Catholic Directory, under the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
Are there dues or fees to pay if I join?
No. The Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis is a national, non-profit, tax exempt Association and, as such, all donations to it are tax deductible. It requires no set fee to join but rather survives on freely given donations of its members. We would hope that you support the Association as you are able. You will be responsible for buying your breviary.
How many years of formation are there?
There are four formative years prior to profession: one postulant year followed by three years of novitiate. There is a short inquiry period prior to postulancy.
Does the association wear a habit?
Yes. The official habit of the Association is a tau cross worn around the neck. Postulants wear a San Damiano crucifix. As an additional devotion, the members of St. Anthony of Padua Chapter received episcopal permission to wear brown tunics fashioned after the traditional first and second order habits. These optional garments are only worn during BSP events, and never in a manner that would cause confusion in the local community.
May I be married or remarry as a member of the BSP?
Yes. Joining the BSP and professing our lifestyle is unlike taking religious vows. There is no promise of celibacy attached to being a member of the BSP. Members may be married, become married, or remarry in accordance with Canon Law.
May I remain a member of the BSP even though I do not plan to profess?
Yes. However, if you wish to remain a member of the BSP but have no intention of professing, you are recognized by the title of “Friend of the Association” and your agency within the Association differs from that of ordinary members. As a Friend, you cannot participate in the Association in any administrative sense, but in prayer only.
May I leave the BSP after having officially joined or professed?
Prior to professing, you can leave at any moment or become a Friend of the Association. However, after professing, if you decide to leave or become a Friend, you cannot reactivate your professed status later and may remain a Friend only.
I have so many health constraints. How can I follow the fast and abstinence requirements?
These are to be followed only if they do not adversely affect your health. When in doubt, consult your spiritual director, confessor, spouse or a physician and follow the advice given. Obedience is holy, too.
Can I stay in the inquiry period as long as I need to?
Yes, as long as you are still discerning whether or not to enter formation.