Introduction to the Third Order

We commit ourselves to leading our lives according to a Rule of Life

What is the Third Order?

The Third Order is a worldwide Anglican Franciscan Religious Order of men and women over the age of 18, lay and ordained, married and single, young and old, and of various ethnic and educational backgrounds. We commit ourselves to leading our lives according to a Rule of Life, while living in our own homes, working in the community and caring for our families. There are about 3000 members worldwide, 1700 of whom are in Europe.

The Aims of the Order are:

  • To make our Lord Jesus Christ known and loved everywhere
  • To spread the spirit of love and harmony
  • To live simply

More about The Three Aims of the Order

What is distinctive about its members?

Tertiaries, as members are known, desire to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, whom we serve through prayer, study and work, after the example of St Francis and St Clare. The keynotes of our lives are humility, love and joy. We are inspired by St. Francis’ challenge to the Church to follow closely Jesus’ earthly life, to proclaim the gospel and bring justice and peace.

The life of the Order is rooted in Eucharistic worship and personal prayer and we believe that we are called to serve within the Church and in the world, enriched and strengthened by periods of contemplation and retreat. We know of many holy men and women who are not members of a religious order. But for us, this is an important lifestyle and commitment that enables us to keep our most important promise — the one we made at our baptism. 

Franciscans seek to worship and serve God in His creation and are therefore pledged to the service of others and to respect for all life. We aim at a simple lifestyle and at self-denial, living in solidarity with the poverty of the world and accepting its claim upon our stewardship.

Francis himself founded the Third Order for people ‘living in their own homes’ (Francis’ words), as opposed to living in a friary or convent, who wished to live according to a Franciscan Rule of Life, without becoming members of the First Order. A Rule for the Third Order was approved by the Pope in 1221. The First Order consists of men and women who live in community under a Franciscan Rule based on the traditional vows of poverty, chastity and obedience; in SSF and CSF (our First Order) they normally wear a brown habit. The Second Order (Community of St Clare) is composed of women who feel called by God to an enclosed life of contemplative prayer, coupled with work to be self-supporting.