Fr. Michael Spearin OFJ Provincial
Fr. Christopher Joseph Bashaw Vocation Director
Most Reverend Scott Paul Kershaw OFJ and Fr. Michael Spearin Provincial
Congratulations to Fr. Christopher J. Bashaw who was ordained to the Priesthood on March 19, 2022 on the Feast of St. Joseph.
People of all faiths, at one time or another, have prayed, heard or read the Peace Prayer attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi. It begins, "Lord, make me an instrument of Your Peace." There wasn't much peace in the world when Saint Francis was alive. Today our world shares much in common with his, except that we are capable of doing even greater harm to ourselves and to our planet than people in his time.
In our time, people are still suffering from hunger, poverty, homelessness, inequality and unemployment while living in the midst of others who have so much. Many thousands of our sisters and brothers have died from diseases like AIDS and cancer and other life-threatening diseases. People of every color and creed continue to struggle against hatred, intolerance, bigotry and violence. Women, people of color, the poor, the elderly continue to struggle for dignity and equality as well as for fundamental human and civil rights. Religious people still fight and kill one another, in the name of the One Creator: God, Jesus Christ, Yahweh, Jehovah or Allah. Brother still fights against brother in places far and near all over the world. Where in our world will we find peace? As Catholic Christians and Franciscans, we believe that true peace comes from knowing, loving and serving God and through faithfulness to the words and works of Jesus Christ, as revealed to us in the Holy Gospels and through the example set by the lives and ministries of Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi.
The Franciscans of the Joy of the Gospel
“Though he was in the form of God, he did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself taking the form of a slave…” (Paul's Letter to the Philippians: 2, 6-7)
The Rule of The Franciscans of Joy is a contemporary expression of the need for boundaries. This is a Rule written for people who are considering living and working in a community supported by vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. The rule leads to a life of simplicity. In everything it wants to help us to become gradually free from compulsions of our society so that we can fully belong to God. The Franciscans of Joy find their core spirituality in the celebration of the Eucharist and the Joy of the Gospel.
The Rule calls us to a discipline of the heart and shows concrete ways in which we can become disciples of Jesus who reveals to us God's love. It does not prescribe but invites, it does not force but guides, it does not instill fear but points to love. This Rule speaks about the "community" as the first place where we can be found and loved by God.
The Rule of the Franciscans of the Joy of the Gospel
The Rule and Life of the Franciscans of Joy is this to observe the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ by following the example of St. Francis of Assisi, who made Christ the inspiration and the center of his life with God and people. (Omnibus of Sources, 244) Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself. Luke 10: 27 Members of the order live this Rule according to the Constitution of the Franciscans of Joy of the Gospel.
Members of the OFJ should live joyfully, the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ in word and deed, using words if necessary. My brothers and sisters are those who hear the word of God and act upon it. Luke 8: 21 Here begins the Rule of the OFJ Brothers and Sisters: In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
1. Daily Life
1.1 Following what Jesus demands of us in the Gospel is the beginning of obedience. Listening to the Lord's voice through our spiritual directors, mentors, brothers and sisters and those who pastor us is also the beginning of Wisdom. You must place yourself, alone and in community, under the scrutiny the Gospel, and always be determining your conduct by it. Though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2: 6-8
1.2 Chastity refers to proper use of one's sexuality according to your state in life. All are called to chastity no matter your state is. In different ways, we all will experience the loneliness of the cross of Jesus and reveal the basic loneliness of every person. At the same time, we are all invited to build up a fellowship with Christ and to establish the kingdom of love among all people. Keep away from sexual immorality. All other sins that people may commit are done outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Do you not realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you and whom you received from God? You are not your own property, then; you have been bought at a price. So, use your body for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 6:18-20
1.3 Poverty of spirit found in the Gospels is an emptying of self so that God can fill us with life and love. Christ is the model of spiritual poverty par excellence. Material poverty is not an end in itself, for abject poverty is degrading to the human person. Material poverty through sharing with those less fortunate is a means to deepen one's commitment to the poor whom Christ held dear. We are all called to live simply and in freedom with respect to the riches we have, whether they are in the form of material possessions, talents, or influence. Each member of the OFJ is called to labor with Christ to help the poor and powerless in some way. You are well acquainted with the favor shown you by our Lord Jesus Christ, how for your sake he made himself poor though he was rich, so that you might become rich by his poverty. 2 Corinthians 8:9
1.4 The men and women belonging to this order shall dress in a habit determined as described in the customary for the OFJ.
1.5 Those who chose to fast during Advent and Lent may do so. Those wishing to abstain from meats on Wednesdays and Fridays during Advent and Lent are encouraged to do so. Anyone over the age of 65 or those who have infirmity are exempt from fasting. Fasting can also be accomplished in the form of almsgiving. Fasting should always be done in a spirit of Joy. Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. Matthew 6: 16-18
1.6 Each member of the OFJ should strive to be good stewards, sharing with those less fortunate. Members of the OFJ should be self sufficient, providing for their personal welfare. All ministries should be self-supporting and may rely on donations from benefactors.
1.7 The members of the order should try to contribute what they can to the Treasurer of the OFJ to assist in covering the expenses that may incur. I warn you then, do not worry about your livelihood, what you are to eat or drink or use for clothing. Look at the birds of the air. They do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. As for clothes, why be concerned? Learn a lesson from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work, they do not spin. Yet I assure you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was arrayed like one of these. Stop worrying then over questions like, what are we to eat or what are we to drink or what are we to wear? The unbelievers are always running after these things. Your heavenly Father knows all that you need. Seek first His kingship over you, His way of holiness. Luke 12: 22-31
1.8 To love and bear each other's burdens: Because you are God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with heartfelt mercy, with kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another. Forgive whatever grievances you have against one another. Forgive as the Lord has forgiven you. Over all these virtues put on love, which binds the rest together and makes them perfect. Christ's peace must reign in your hearts, since as members of the one body you have been called to that peace. Dedicate yourselves to thankfulness. Let the word of Christ, rich as it is, dwell in you. In wisdom made perfect instruct and admonish one another. Sing gratefully to God from your hearts in psalms, hymns and inspired songs. Whatever you do, whether in speech or in action, do it in the name of our Savior Jesus Christ. Give thanks to God the Father through Him. Col. 3:12-17
2. Prayer and Worship
2.1 Members of the Order should pray Morning and Evening Prayer. For those who are able to pray other Liturgical hours are encouraged to do so. They may use the Liturgy of the Hours the Roman Rite (4 volumes), Christian Prayer (one volume), the Franciscan Morning and Evening Prayers (One Volume), or the Geste of the Great King.
2.2 Contemplative and Mental forms of prayer are also encouraged.
2.3 The sick are exempt from saying all forms of the Liturgy of the Hours but are encouraged to pray if they are able.
2.4 The Franciscan Crown Rosary is encouraged as a personal or communal devotion. The Rosary is also encouraged as a form of prayer.
2.5 Members of the Order are encouraged to spend time each day meditating on Holy Scripture, Spiritual or Franciscan writings in the Spirit of Lectio Divina.* Whenever you pray, go to your room, close your door, and pray to your Father in private. In your prayer, do not rattle on like pagans. This is how you are to pray: "Our Father..." Mt. 6: 5-9 When you stand to pray, forgive anyone against whom you have a grievance so that your heavenly Father may in turn forgive you. Matthew 11: 25 If you bring your gift to the altar and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift at the altar, go first to be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Mattew 5: 23-24 Rejoice always, never cease praying, and render constant thanks. Do not stifle the Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-203
3. The Sacraments and Other Matters
3.1 The Sacrament of Reconciliation should be celebrated yearly and the Eucharist frequently. Eucharist is not a privilege for the pious but an encounter of Grace with the living God. Let us consider the faith of the saints. Since we for our part are surrounded by this cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every encumbrance of sin which clings to us and persevere in running the race which lies ahead. Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, who inspires and perfects our faith. Hebrews 12: 1-2
3.2 They are not to take up lethal weapons or espouse the death penalty. Offer no resistance to injury. When a person strikes you on the right cheek, turn and offer the other. If anyone wants to go to law over your shirt, hand him your coat as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him two miles. Matthew 5: 39-48 4
4. Special Mass and Meeting Each Month
4.1 All the brothers and sisters of every city and place are encouraged to gather every month at the time and place the ministers see fit to celebrate the Eucharist and enjoy fellowship. Each member of the OFJ should attend Mass weekly. I received from the Lord what I handed on to you, namely, that the Lord Jesus, on the night in which he was betrayed, took bread and after he had given thanks, broke it and said, "This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way after the supper he took the cup saying, "This is the new covenant in my blood. Whenever you drink of this cup, do it in remembrance of me." Every time that you eat this bread and drink of this cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes! 1 Corinthians 11: 20-31
5. Visiting the Sick and Commemorating the Dead
5.1 Whenever any brother or sister happens to fall ill, the ministers are encouraged to visit the infirm weekly to encourage and to make sure the sick receive the Eucharist and receive the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick if needed.
5.2 And if the sick person depart from this life, it is to be published to the brothers and sisters who may be present in the city or place, so that they may gather for the funeral or offer prayer for the repose of the deceased soul.
5.3 Celebrating annually on November 24; The Feast to Commemorate All the Deceased of the Seraphic Order; a priest should celebrate Mass in each Franciscan Parish or Ministry for the welfare of those who have passed.
5.4 A living will, health proxies and wishes for final internment are encouraged for all members of the order. Ask for the leaders of the community. They in turn are to pray over those who are ill, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. This prayer uttered in faith will reclaim the one who is ill, and the Lord will restore him to health. If he has committed any sins, forgiveness will be his. Hence, declare your sins to one another, and pray for one another that you may find healing. James 5: 14-16
5.5 Let each member accept joyfully and faithfully exercise the ministry of their offices.
Here ends the Rule of Life
Constitutions of the Franciscans of the Joy of the Gospel
The Order shall be known as The Franciscans of the of the Gospel (Franciscans of Joy). Professed Members may use the post-nominal letters, OFJ.
The purpose of the Order shall be to assist the Independent Catholic Church of the Americas and the entire Church in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all people of faith and, through observance of the Rule and a life in accordance with the Holy Gospel, aid in the advocacy and spiritual development of its members and of the poor, the alienated and the disenfranchised as well as all of the people of God wherever we shall encounter them.
People of all faiths, at one time or another, have prayed, heard or read the Peace Prayer attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi. It begins, "Lord, make me an instrument of Your Peace." There wasn't much peace in the world when Saint Francis was alive. Today our world shares much in common with his, except that we are capable of doing even greater harm to ourselves and to our planet than people in his time. In our time, people are still suffering from hunger, poverty, homelessness, inequality and unemployment while living in the midst of others who have so much. Many thousands of our sisters and brothers have died from diseases like AIDS and cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Many thousands of people are living with HIV and are fighting to stay alive, while they struggle against societal apathy, ignorance and indifference. People of every color and creed under the rainbow continue to struggle against hatred, intolerance, bigotry and violence. Women, people of color, the poor, the elderly and GLBTI people continue to struggle for dignity and equality as well as for fundamental human and civil rights. Religious people still fight and kill one another, in the name of the One Creator: God, Jesus Christ, Yahweh, Jehovah or Allah. Brother still fights against brother in places far and near all over the world. Where in our world will we find peace? As Catholic Christians and Franciscans, we believe that true peace comes from knowing, loving and serving God and through faithfulness to the words and works of Jesus Christ, as revealed to us in the Holy Gospels and through the example set by the lives and ministries of Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi.
We commit ourselves to be the "instruments" of God's peace to all people of faith within our diverse communities. To do this, we are committed to work in various apostolates, including those to the poor, to youth, the elderly, people living with HIV, the homeless, to GLBTI people, to minority people, the alienated and those who feel excluded or in fact are excluded or minimized by the institutional Church. We are dedicated to ministries that build or repair bridges between the many separated families of Christ's Holy Church. We will intercede and advocate on behalf of the oppressed and the powerless, in matters pertaining to Human Dignity, Diversity, Equality, Civil and Human Rights, Reconciliation and Social Justice for All of God's people.
Celebrating the Joy of God's presence and grace in every person and in every living creature, following the Poor Christ of the Gospels in lives of mutual care and accountability in harmony with the Orthodox faith and practice of the Universal Church and the whole Franciscan family, we are The Franciscans of Joy. We seek to grow in the love and knowledge of God and to serve Jesus Christ in faithfulness to the spirit, ideals and example of Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi. We earn our daily bread through the various ordinary professions to which we have been called, so that we might reflect the Franciscan ideal of self-sufficiency. We serve in ministries on behalf of the Church as well as in apostolates of love, caring and stewardship to the Universal Church and especially to those who are Christ's poor, alienated and disenfranchised. Through our prayers and simple works, we attempt to plant the seeds of true and lasting peace among all of God's people. We do this not for ourselves, but because God calls us, as heirs of the Franciscan mission, to repair God's House, one Stone, one Person at a time. Jesus Christ, the Stone which the builders rejected, is our example and our cornerstone. The Gospels and the Holy Spirit guide us on our faith journey, under the patronage, prayers and protection of our Blessed Mother Mary.
Our Lord, Jesus Christ spoke to Saint Francis from the sanctuary cross that hung in the ruins of the Church of San Damiano and gave him this commission, "Repair My House, which as you can see is falling into complete ruin." In all that we do, these words will guide our lives, our ministry and our various, individual apostolates.
The Franciscans of Joy operates under its own Rule, Constitution and Customary. Our prayer life is supplemented by the Franciscan Book of Daily Prayer, or other suitable forms of personal or communal prayer such as the Liturgy of the Hours or the Franciscan Short Breviary.
5.1 The three documents of The Franciscans of Joy by which its members shall be governed, are: the Rule, the Constitution, and the Customary.
5.2 Amendments to any of these documents shall be submitted in writing to the Provincial one month prior to Chapter and shall require the following:
5.2.1 The Rule: two-thirds majority of Chapter.
5.2.2 The Constitution: two-thirds majority of Chapter.
5.2.3 The Customary: a simple majority of Chapter.
5.3 The final interpretation of the documents of the Order shall rest with the Provincial.
6.1 The Presiding Archbishop is the guardian of the Constitution and is the final court of appeal for the maintenance of its discipline.
6.2 The Provincial will report to the Presiding Archbishop from time to time on the work of the Order.
6.3 The advice and counsel of the Presiding Archbishop will be sought when any Life Professed Member is being considered for dismissal. The decision of the Presiding Archbishop is final.
Provincial Chaplains shall be priests who are appointed by the Provincial. They may act as confessors and counselors to the members who serve in that Province.
8.1 The Provincial must be elected by a majority vote of the members meeting in Chapter. The Provincial so elected may serve for a term of three years. There are no limits to how many consecutive terms the Provincial may be elected to. The institution of the Provincial shall be accomplished through the Presiding Archbishop, at a Eucharist Liturgy to be attended by as many of the members as possible.
8.2 Should it become necessary to seek removal of the Provincial, a special Chapter shall be called. A vote of two-thirds of the members must be achieved. The Provincial Guardian(s) will act to notify the Presiding Archbishop to obtain his permission to affect the removal.
8.3 Duties, Rights and Powers of the Provincial.
8.3.1 He/She shall govern the order with love, patience, humility and justice.
8.3.2 The Provincial shall lead the members using the example set by our Lord Jesus Christ, our Holy Father, Saint Francis and our Holy Mother, Saint Clare by seeking, through prayer and meditation, the guidance of the Holy Spirit. He/She shall also seek counsel of the Presiding Archbishop.
8.3.3 The Provincial may appoint Provincial Guardians and Administrators to assist him/her in governing the Order.
8.3.4 The Provincial shall serve as chair at the meetings of Chapter and Council. He/She may only vote to break a tie in either chamber. He/She has veto power over any resolution passed by Chapter, but that veto may be overridden by a three-fourths majority of Chapter.
8.3.5 The Provincial, in consultation with Council, shall have the final voice on admissions, receptions, professions and separations of any member.
8.3.6 The Provincial may appoint two Brothers/Sisters as members of the Council. Each serve at the pleasure of the Provincial.
Pastoral and Administrative Officials
9.1 The Provincial may appoint assistants. The assistant shall be Professed and will have such jurisdiction as given them by the Provincial.
9.2 The Provincial shall appoint personnel to assist him/her in the operation of his/her offices. The officials defined herewith shall serve at the Provincial pleasure. They are not limited to any specific number. Other officials may be appointed to permanent or temporary positions by the Provincial as specific needs arise and at such time will be added to Article 9.3.3.
9.3 The specific officials designated for the operation of the Order are:
9.3.1 The Administrative Assistant, who serves immediately under the supervision of the Provincial and can only issue orders at the direction of the Provincial.
9.3.2 The Secretary, who bears the responsibility for the minutes of Council and Chapter, as well as all requirements of the Provincial for correspondence, preparation of documents along with their incorporation into the records of the Order.
9.3.3 The Provincial Guardians, who are called from among the Professed, are subject to the Provincial. They have authority over the members in their Province. Provincial Guardians serve for a term of three years and may be re-appointed for succeeding terms. One of the principal duties of the Provincial Guardians is to act as a mentor to all members in their jurisdiction. They are required to make visits to them or to have them gather for study, etc. All the Provinces of this Order will be under the rule of obedience and shall not be self-governing. Thus, Provincial Guardians will act under the direction of the Provincial. Provincial Guardians will be members of Council. Provincial Guardians may appoint Local Guardians to administer to the needs of small groups of Members who live in particular localities within his/her Province. The duties and jurisdiction of Local Guardians shall be determined by the Provincial Guardian, after consultation with the Provincial. Local Guardians, as defined herewith, shall serve at the Provincial Guardian's pleasure. They are not limited to any specific number.
9.3.4 The Vocations Director, who is called from among the Professed, bears the responsibility for all aspects of vocations information and communications between inquirers and applicants and the Order. The work of the Vocations Director is a great grace, enabling him/her to join in the work of Divine Providence as he/she speaks to men and women who are searching to know God's plan for their lives. The Director of Vocations shall regularly inform the Provincial of the status and/or progress of inquirers and applicants. He/She will also arrange for meetings between applicants and the Metropolitan and/or the Provincial prior to admission. The Director of Vocations presents his/her insights and/or recommendations in writing to the Provincial regarding applicants who have successfully completed the requirements necessary to be considered for admission to the Order so as to assist the Provincial in making the final decision.
9.4 If at any time an official desires to resign, he/she must notify the Provincial in writing, giving as much notice as he/she can afford, but not less than thirty days.
Chapter shall meet each year at a time and place or in a form (e.g. web cam conference) designated by the Provincial. Members may be dispensed from attending only under severe extenuating circumstances and only with the consent of the Provincial.
10.1 Rules on voting in Chapter are:
10.1.1 A quorum shall consist of two-thirds of the voting members, either present, or voting by proxy, letter, Fax or telephone.
10.1.2 "Majority" means an absolute majority of votes cast. Where a fractional majority is required, the majority shall be considered the nearest whole number of possible votes (e.g. a two-third majority of fourteen votes is nine votes).
10.1.3 In the election or removal of a Provincial, or any amendments to the Rule or Constitution, all Professed Members must vote.
10.1.4 In all Chapter decisions, absent Members may vote by proxy.
10.2 Duties of Chapter are:
10.2.1 To amend the Rule, Constitution and Customary of the Order.
10.2.2 To elect the Provincial.
Ideally, a Retreat should be held periodically at a time and place designated by the Provincial. Attendance is mandatory and members may be dispensed from attending only under severe extenuating circumstances and only with the consent of the Provincial. If circumstances prevent the entire community from gathering for a Retreat, it is then the responsibility of each member to set aside some time periodically for a personal Retreat, whether structured or otherwise.
12.1 Eligibility and Membership
12.1.1 Any baptized and confirmed communicant in good standing of the ICCA is eligible for membership in The Franciscans of Joy, provided he/she is at least eighteen years of age and has the conviction that he/she is called to the Religious Life according to our Franciscan charism. The Order of Franciscans of Joy will include an Ecumenical Third Order intended for all Baptized Christians of any denomination who wish to live the spirit of Franciscan charism.
12.1.2 The right to admit candidates belongs to the Provincial. While not bound by Particular Law to do so, the Provincial has the authority to seek input from the Professed with regards to decisions to admit or not to admit a prospective candidate into the Order.
12.1.3 Mindful of his/her responsibility to the Church and to the Order, the Vocation Director and Provincial should, after examination and prayerful consideration, admit only those candidates who exhibit the character and maturity necessary for entering the Religious Life. The character and maturity of applicants should be examined by those having the education or equivalent life experience and expertise in that field. Recent converts should not be admitted until their constancy has been firmly established.
12.1.4 In accordance with the Particular Law of the Independent Catholic Church of the Americas and the above requirements, and any others that may from time to time be deemed necessary, the following shall be required of all applicants.
- We require that you carefully read all of the information contained on our web site, including the Frequently Asked Questions page. We expect candidates be knowledgeable of the nature, history and purpose of our Order prior to making application for admission.
- You should download the Application for Admission found on the Vocations page of our web site. Read the application carefully, then complete it.
- Mail your completed Application along with copies of your Birth Certificate, Record of Baptism, Record of Confirmation, Certificate of Marriage or Civil Union (if applicable), Diplomas, Degrees, Certifications and/or Transcripts of Courses taken and a recent 3.5cm x 3.5 cm photograph (passport size) of yourself.
- Mail one complete set of your Admissions paperwork to the Vocations Director:
Director of Vocations
Rev. Christopher Bashaw
- We also require a letter of reference from at least three people who know you well. These letters must be mailed directly to us by the person who writes each letter.
- Those who are considering undertaking studies and training in preparation for Holy Orders or who are already ordained and wish to be incardinated into our Church must also agree to submit a criminal background check and a psychological report at your own expense if it is requested.
- A personal interview with the Provincial and/or the Director of Vocations. A personal interview with the Metropolitan or local Bishop is required for those seeking to prepare for Holy Orders or incardination.
12.1.5 A person shall have been invalidly accepted and will be subject to immediate dismissal if any information given by him/her on his/her application or interview is proven to be false or misleading.
12.1.6 An applicant duly accepted by the Provincial shall be so informed and shall become a Postulant.
12.1.7 A Postulant may be released from the Order at his/her own request or may be dismissed at any time for just cause by the Provincial.
12.1.8 All Novices as well as Professed, be they Lay members or clergy, are required, by virtue of the Canons and Statutes of the Independent Catholic Church of the Americas, to read and submit a signed copy of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards and the Policy on Sexual Misconduct, the Policy on Child Abuse, to the Provincial and/or the Metropolitan or local Bishop. This is very important. Refusal to do so is grounds for denial of admission to the Order or for dismissal from the Order, including, but not limited to, revocation of faculties for clergy.
13.1 Our Ecumenical Brothers or Sisters may continue to hold dual Church membership. Dual Church membership is not permitted for our ordained clergy or for those who are seeking incardination into our Church.
13.2 ICCA Clergy are vowed to serve a particular Bishop of the Independent Catholic Church of the Americas from whom they receive their faculties of the priesthood or the diaconate. They may not concurrently have allegiances or obligations to other Religious Orders, Bishops, jurisdictions or churches. Previous vows or allegiances to other Religious Orders, Bishops, jurisdictions or churches must be terminated, and proof shown in writing, prior to either ordination or incardination as a deacon or priest in the Independent Catholic Church of the Americas. Failure to terminate such prior commitments would defacto invalidate one's ordination or incardination to the ICCA.
13.3 It is also important to note that while our Ecumenical Members are not required to belong to the Independent Catholic Church of the Americas, our Order is a Canonical Order of our Church and therefore, all Ecumenical Members as well as clergy are subject to its Particular Law and Statutes, and Customary as well as the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards, Policy on Sexual Misconduct, and the Policy of Child Abuse, of the Independent Catholic Church of the Americas. Once an Applicant's application and additional documents have been reviewed and after we have met with the applicant in person, a decision will be reached and the applicant will be notified of our decision to admit him/her as a Postulant of the Order. After 6 months of postulancy, they will be reviewed by the Formation Council and recommended to the Provincial for the Novitiate Program or for an additional time as a postulant. All Novice Members will spend one Canonical year in study and training, prior to making a profession of (temporary) vows. The program of study for all Novices and all members of the Order can be found below.
Separation from the Order
14.1 Departure, leave of absence or exclaustration
14.1.1 A Brother/Sister under vows, either Simple vows or Life vows, may, at the discretion of the Provincial be granted a temporary dispensation not to exceed one year.
14.1.2 During the period of dispensation, the Brother/Sister remains subject to the authority of the Provincial and to the requirements of his/her sacred bond, but is dispensed from the remainder of the Rule, He/She loses his/her voice and vote and may not wear the OFJ Habit, Franciscan cross or clericals.
14.1.3 While dispensation is normally granted for such reasons as the need to re-examine one's vocation, serious illness which impairs the ability to live the Rule, etc., it is also within the jurisdiction of the Provincial to enforce departure as a means of discipline for very serious reasons. In this instance, the Provincial may require observance to such portion of the Rule that would normally be dispensed.
14.1.4 Upon completion of the specified period of dispensation, the Brother/Sister either requests permission of the Provincial to return to the Order or asks the Provincial for a request for dismissal.
14.1.5 The period of dispensation is not fixed and the Brother/Sister may be recalled or he/she may request permission to return at any time.
14.1.6 Dismissal automatically abolishes Religious Vows thereby returning the Brother/Sister to the secular state.
14.1.7 Proceedings for dismissal may be initiated by the Provincial or by the Brother/Sister. In the latter case, the Brother/Sister submits his/her request, in writing, and the Provincial responds, in writing, within one week. If a writ of dismissal is refused, the Brother/Sister may appeal to the Presiding Archbishop of the Independent Catholic Church.
14.2 Cause or reason for dismissal may include but is not limited to:
14.2.1 Request by the member.
14.2.2 Disobedience, or refusal to accept the direction of the Provincial.
14.2.3 The public profession of apostasy, and or heresy.
14.2.4 Being the cause of scandal to the Order and the Church.
Temporal Possessions and Dissolution
In the event of the dissolution of The Franciscans of Joy, or if it may cease to exist, the following formula would apply: All property and records belonging to the Order would immediately be turned over to the Office of the Presiding Archbishop of the Independent Catholic Church of the Americas. It would then be sold and monies realized from such sale, together with monies held in trust or bank accounts, would be concentrated into a single fund. After the settlement of any and all outstanding debts, the total residue would then become the property of the Independent Catholic Church of the Americas.
Since you have been chosen by God who has given you this new kind of life, and because of God's deep love and concern for you. You should practice tenderhearted mercy and kindness to others. Don't worry about making a good impression on them but be ready to suffer quietly and patiently. Be gentle and ready to forgive; never hold grudges. Remember, the Father forgave you, so you must forgive others.
Most of all, let love guide your life, for then the whole church will stay together in perfect harmony. Let the peace of heart which comes from Jesus Christ be always present in your hearts and lives, for this is your responsibility and privilege as members of Christ's body. And always be thankful.
Remember what Christ taught and let His words enrich your lives and make you wise; teach them to each other and sing them out in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing to the Lord with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus, and come with Christ into the presence of God our heavenly Father to give Him your thanks. (Colossians 3: 12-17)
Pax et Bonum! Introduction to the novitiate of the Franciscans of Joy.
The novitiate of St. Francis is about a moment in time during which men and women fall into greater love with Jesus Christ and consequently embarked on a life-long journey of love and service following Christ through the charism of Our Seraphic Father Francis.
Through the ages countless men and women from every corner of our world have desired to love and serve Christ as the poor man of Assisi by becoming brothers and sisters of the orders he founded. They too took a first step in following Christ, beginning their own journey in "the year of probation" - their novitiate.
Novice Master for the Franciscans of Joy
It is a pleasure for me to announce that Fr. Christopher Bashaw has agreed to be the Novice Master for the Franciscans of Joy. His duty is to shepherd the Franciscan Formation and ensure that the time devoted to Novitiate be passed in prayer, meditation, reflection, and discernment. Through this and through the study of the Life of Francis, Franciscan History and Theology, the Rule, vows, and the constitution of the Franciscans of Joy, one would expect to achieve further maturation of one’s character. Over the twelve months of the Novitiate year, Father Michael and the Candidates along with myself, will discern together the calling to the Franciscans of Joy - Father Provincial Michael Spearin, OFJ
The Novitiate Program:
The program of the novitiate includes moments of both private and communal prayer as the Liturgy of the Hours, classes/workshops/seminars, retreats, and other activities in line with the goals of this stage of formation.
The Mass, the Liturgy of the Hours, Common Meditation, Common Catholic Devotions, Adoration/Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. The Rosary and the Franciscan Crown also feature during the week.
Spiritual Reading, Solitude, Days of Recollection, Contemplative Prayer, Spiritual Direction, Personal Devotions and Meditation,
Franciscan History, Franciscan Spirituality, Rule and Constitutions of the OFJ, Liturgical/Devotional, History of Consecrated Life, the Gospel Counsels as expressed in the Rule of the Franciscans of Joy.
Outside Apostolates are encourages using the talents that God has given us. Workshops/Seminars on a variety of topics; Scripture, Mariology, working in a Franciscan Parish or Ministry, and participation in the life of the Diocese.
THE FRANCISCAN CROWN ROSARY
The Franciscan rosary, or as it is properly called, The Franciscan Crown, dates to the early part of the 15th century. At that time a young man who found spiritual joy in weaving a crown of wild flowers for a beautiful statue of Mary decided to enter the Franciscan Order. After entering the community, however, he was saddened when he no longer found the time to gather flowers for his personal devotion. One evening, while feeling tempted to abandon his vocation, he received a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Virgin Mother encouraged the young novice to persevere by reminding him of the joyfulness of the Franciscan spirit. She also instructed him to meditate daily on seven joyful events from her own life as a new form of the rosary. Instead of a crown of flowers, the novice would now weave a crown of prayers. Before long, many other Franciscans began to pray the Crown and soon it spread to the entire Order, becoming officially established in 1422.
In addition to developing this Marian devotion, the Franciscans are credited with adding the final words to the Hail Mary, Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. In 1263, Saint Bonaventure, Minister General of the Order, encouraged liturgical devotion honouring the mystery of the Visitation. Saint Bonaventure also popularized the daily triple recitation of the Angelus which it is believed Saint Francis initiated after visiting the Holy Land. Francis was deeply impressed by the Muslim practice of stopping to pray several times a day, and desired to Christianize this pious custom. A Franciscan pope, Sixtus IV (1471-1485), introduced the feast of the Immaculate Conception and the feast of Saint Joseph as husband of Mary. He also issued the first papal pronouncement encouraging the rosary as in invaluable instrument of personal and societal conversion.
Taken from THE FRANCISCAN CROWN (a beautiful booklet available in most Catholic Book stores) Courtesy of The Franciscan Friars of Marytown:
1. The Franciscan Crown consists of seven decades of Hail Mary's, each preceded by an Our Father and followed by a Glory Be.
2. The Crown recalls the Seven Joys of Mary and how she responded to the grace of God in her life.
The Seven Joys are:
- The Joy of Mary at the Annunciation
- The Joy of Mary in the Visitation (expressed in her Magnificat)
- The Joy of Mary at the Birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ
- The Joy of Mary in the Adoration of the Magi
- The Joy of Mary in Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple
- The Joy of Mary when Christ appeared to Her Resurrected on Easter Morning
- The Joy of Mary in her Assumption and Coronation
3. It begins with the sign of the cross which is then followed by seven decades, each consisting of one Our Father, ten Hail Mary's and one Glory Be.
4. At the end of the seven decades, there are two additional Hail Mary's, bringing the total of Hail Mary's to 72 years.
5. The Crown may be concluded by praying one Hail Mary and one Our Father for the intentions of the Pope.
There are other ways of reciting the Crown but the one given seems to be in more general use.
FRANCISCAN SCRIPTURE READING
Franciscan reading exhibits qualities of Franciscan spirituality; actions, spontaneity, love, praise, beauty, and delight in creation. This form of reading involves the mental process of entering personally into the text. Read chapter 53 of Isaiah. The message in the chapter prompts a reflection of the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross. The Franciscan method invites you to take actions that would prompt obedience and compassion for humankind. You would also gain an appreciation for loving your fellow man. In connecting with the sacrifice of Cavalry, imagine as best you can the experience of dying on the cross. Using a cross with the crucified Savior, hold it in your hands, gazing at the details of the Lord’s crucified body. Imagine his pain and suffering.
Reading List for those in the Novitiate Program
Studying the Life of St. Francis of Assisi William R. Hugo O.F.M. Cap
Franciscan Liturgical Calendar
1. SOLEMNITY OF MARY, MOTHER OF GOD
3. HOLY NAME OF JESUS Memorial
5. ORTOLANA DI FIUMI
7. ST. ANGELA OF FOLIGNO
12. ST BERNARD OF CARLENE
14. BL ODORIC OF PORDENONE
16. STS BERARD AND COMPANIONS Memorial
24. ST FRANCIS de SALES
4. ST JOSEPH OF LEONISSA
6. STS PETER BAPTIST, PAUL MIKI, AND COMPANIONS Memorial
7. ST COLLETTE
9. BL MOTHER MARIA THERESIA BONZEL
11. FEAST OF OUR LADY OF LOURDES
19. ST CONRAD OF PIACENZA
2. BL AGNES OF PRAGUE
9. ST FRANCES OF ROME
10. Bl. JOHN OF PARMA
24. BL DIDACUS JOSEPH OF CADIZ
25. THE ANNUNCIATION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
1. CAESAR OF SPEYER
3. ST BENEDICT THE AFRICAN Memorial
21. ST CONRAD OF PARZHAM Memorial
23. BL GILES OF ASSISI
24. ST FIDELIS OF SIGMARINGEN Feast
26. OUR LADY OF GOOD COUNSEL
28. BL LUCHESIUS
9. ST CATHERINE OF BOLOGNA
11. ST IGNATIUS OF LACONI
13. FEAST OF OUR LADY OF FATIMA
16. ST MARGARET OF CORTONA Memorial
17. ST PASCHAL BAYLON Memorial
18. ST FELIX OF CANTALICE Feast
20. ST BERNADINE OF SIENA Feast
23. FEAST OF ST. SIMON THE CANAANITE-PATRON OF THE ICCA
24. DEDICATION OF BASILICA OF ST FRANCIS Feast
28. ST MARIANA OF JESUS de PAREDES
30. BL BAPTISTA VARANO
30. ST FERDINAND, KING
12. BL JOLENTA
13. ST ANTHONY OF PADUA Feast
27. OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL HELP
30. BL RAYMOND LULL
1. ST. JUNIPERO SERRA
8. ST GREGORY GRASSI
9. ST NICHOLAS PICK AND COMPANIONS Memorial
10. ST VERONICA GIULIANI Memorial
12. STS JOHN JONES AND JOHN WALL
13. BL ANGELINE OF MARSCIANO
14. ST FRANCIS SOLANO
15. ST BONAVENTURE Feast
16. CANONIZATION OF ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI-1228
16. OUR LADY OF MOUNT CARMEL Feast
21. ST LAWRENCE OF BRINDISI Feast
23. ST CUNEGUNDA
24. BL LOUISE OF SAVOY
27. BL MARY MAGDALENE OF MARTINEGRO
2. OUR LADY OF THE ANGELS OF PORTIUNCULA Feast
4. ST JOHN BAPTIST MARY VIANNEY -Patron Saint of Priests
7. BLS AGATHANGELUS AND CASSIAN
8. HOLY FATHER DOMINIC Feast
9. BL. JOHN OF LAVERNA
11. ST CLARE OF ASSISI Feast
14. ST MAXIMILIAN KOLBE Feast
15. THE ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY Solemnity
19. ST LOUIS OF TOULOUSE Memorial
25. ST LOUIS IX Memorial
1. BL BEATRICE OF SILVA
2. BLS JOHN FRANCIS BURTE, SEVERIN GIRAULT & COMPANIONS
4. ST ROSE OF VITERBO
8. THE NATIVITY OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY Feast
17 STIGMATA OF OUR HOLY FATHER FRANCIS Feast
18. ST JOSEPH OF CUPERTINO Feast
20. ST FRANCIS MARY OF CAMPOROSSO Memorial
20. ST. ANDREW KIM TAEGON AND COMPANIONS
23. FINDING THE BODY OF ST CLARE
23. ST.PIO PIETREICINA
26. ST ELZEAR OF SABRAN & BL DOLPHIN
29. ST. MICHAEL AND THE ARCHANGELS
3 TRANSITUS OF ST.FRANCIS
4. OUR HOLY FATHER FRANCIS Solemnity
6. ST MARY FRANCES OF THE FIVE WOUNDS
7. OUR LADY OF THE MOST HOLY ROSARY Feast
10. STS DANIEL & COMPANIONS
12. ST SERAPHIN OF MONTEGRANARO
19. ST.PETER OF ALCANTARA
20. BL JAMES OF STREPAR
20. BL CONTARDO FERRINI
21. BL JOSEPHINE LEROUX
22. ST PETER OF ALCANTARA Memorial
23. ST JOHN OF CAPISTRANO Memorial
26. BL BONAVENTURE OF POTENZA
30. ANNIVERSARY OF DEDICATION IN CONSECRATED FRANCISCAN CHURCHES Solemnity
7. ST DIDACUS OF ALCALA
8. BL. JOHN DUNS SCOTUS
14. ST NICHOLAS TAVELIC Memorial
17. ST ELIZABETH OF HUNGARY Feast
18. BL SALOME
19. ST AGNES OF ASSISI
21. THE PRESENTATION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY Feast
24. COMMEMORATION of ALL DECEASED of the FRANCISCAN ORDERS Memorial
26. ST LEONARD OF PORT MAURICE Memorial
27. ST FRANCIS ANTHONY FASANI
28. ST JAMES OF THE MARCH Memorial
29. ALL SAINTS OF THE FRANCISCAN ORDERS Feast
8. IMMACULATE CONCEPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY Solemnity
12. OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE Feast
15 BL MARY FRANCES SCHEUVIER
25. THE NATIVITY OF THE LORD