Third Order, Society of St. Francis

TSSF 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 2500 members worldwide, 1500 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

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 important both for our lifestyle and our commitment.

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 lay people who wished to live according to a Franciscan Rule of Life, without becoming members of the First Order as Friars. 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: 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.

The Third Order in Wales

In the Wales Area, the Order numbers around 80 Tertiaries, divided into seven Groups, two of which are in the Diocese of St Davids, plus 10 or more people who are in earlier stages of testing their calling to join the Order.

Ordained clergy represent just over a quarter of this figure.

In addition to Group and Area meetings, we organise a number of Quiet Days and one or more annual contemplative retreats in Wales: these are generally open to people outside the Order. In Wales, we receive a constant stream of enquiries from people seeking to add to their church life by also living under a Rule of Life, and who are attracted by the example of St Francis.

For more information about TSSF see www.tssf.org.uk. To enquire about Membership, fill in the form on the site, or email novguard@tssf.org.uk.