Franciscans are not monks. Even though prayer, contemplation, and even hermitages have an important part in our life, the Franciscans are never cloistered. Cloistered Religious, such as monks, live and work within the confines of a monastery. The friars, however, have many ministries, but always outside their friaries. However, even though we have ministries outside the friary, we are not a completely active either as we find that we are both contemplative and active. We endeavor to maintain a delicate balance between active ministry and prayer. Prayer revitalizes our ministry, while ministry informs our prayer. Franciscan Friars are normal people who have flawed personalities and failings like all around us. As Friars, we are normal, flawed people just trying to love God and each other the way Jesus showed in the Gospels. Friars are not saints, just “saints in the making” like you! If you visit a friary don’t expect every one to be overly pious or you will be sorely disappointed!
The Franciscan history and spirituality is treasured as a gift from God. St. Francis himself was a strong individual and the first friars that gathered around him made quite a “motley crew”. It is still the same is today. There is an old saying: “If you’ve met one friar, you’ve met one friar.” The dynamics of each community differs according to the personalities that make up the community and according to the types of ministries that are carried out. Each person that enters the friars comes with a particular approach to God and service. Our friars do not always wear their habits, but do so when they come together as a sign of their fraternity and community. So, next time you meet one of us, say hello and see where God might be calling you!