Definitions of Franciscan Terms

Franiscan terms

Here are explanations of some of the most commonly found Franciscan terms.

Affliliate

This word has two meanings in the Franciscan movement. It sometimes refers to men who are in the first year of our program for incoming friars, although in recent years these men have been called postulants. It can also refer to persons who, because of their commitment to the friars or to Franciscan ideals, are given the habit and made "honorary" members of the Province. For example, the late Mrs. Connie Owens, former Director of Postal Services at Siena, was an affiliate of Holy Name Province.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Bernardine of Siena

Bernardine of Siena
Bernardine of Siena

St. Bernardine of Siena (1380-1444) is the patron of the college. The original name of the college was St. Bernardine of Siena College and the friary is St. Bernardine of Siena Friary. St. Bernardine of Siena was a Franciscan Friar who lived at the end of the 14th and beginning of the 15th centuries. He was a famous preacher who also risked his life to assist victims of the plague. He popularized devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus--thus the emblem of the Holy Name on the seal of the college. Coincidentally, St. Bernardine's feast day is May 20 which often happens to be the day of Siena's commencement exercises.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Brother or Father?

The word "friar" means brother. All of us are therefore brothers. Some of the brothers choose to become clergymen. They have chosen a path that allows them to preach, hear confessions, and preside at the Eucharist. These men are generally referred to as "Father." Brothers and Fathers have equal status within the community; and no, there is no way to tell them apart without asking.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Chapter

A chapter is an official gathering of friars to discuss business or spiritual affairs. A Chapter is the locus for legislative decision making among the friars.

Chapters happen on several levels. At the Siena friary we hold a house chapter each month. Provincial chapters occur every three years. A provincial chapter is presided over by a visitor from a different province. It is his responsibility to visit every friar and to make recommendations for the future. At the provincial chapter legislation is approved and elections are held for the provincial, the vicar provincial, and for the provincial council. An international chapter with representatives from provinces around the world provides a similar function on the global level every six years. Finally, there is a form of chapter called a "Chapter of Mats." It receives its name from a gathering during the life of St. Francis at which all the friars sat on mats. This type of chapter is not for business but for fraternal sharing and the enjoyment of each other's company.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Clare of Assisi

Clare of Assisi
Clare of Assisi

St. Clare (1193-1253), the daughter of a noble family, was the first woman to join St. Francis. She was in many ways the co-founder of the Franciscan movement. Clare founded a communty of sisters originally known as the Poor Ladies (now more commonly known as the Poor Clares). She was the first woman to write her own rule for religious women, a rule modeled on Franciscan poverty. She got it approved despite opposition from some well-meaning hierarchs, who did not think that it was practical for Clare and her sisters to live the vow of poverty in a cloistered community.

The building that houses the Religious Studies Department at Siena is named for St.Clare. Every year, the Department sponsors the Clare Center Lecture, which explores the implications of the Franciscan Tradition for higher education.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Francis of Assisi

Francis of Assisi
Francis of Assisi

St. Francis (1182-1226), the son of a wealthy merchant, is one of the world's best known saints. He is noted for his single-hearted dedication to the imitation of Jesus Christ and for his appreciation of the sacramental nature of all creation. Francis is also known for his humility, and for being a promoter of peace and reconciliation in a time of many wars and conflicts.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Feast of St. Francis

The Feast of St. Francis is celebrated each year on October 4th, the day after his death (Oct. 3). Every year, Siena College holds a number of activities during the first week of October to commemmorate the life and work of St. Francis. These include a Feast Day Mass to which the whole campus is invited.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Franciscan Family

The Order of Friars Minor is one part of the Franciscan Family. Other large branches include the Order of Friars Minor, Conventual (OFM, Conv.) ; the Order of Friars Minor, Capuchin (OFM, Cap.); The Third Order Regular (TOR) and the Poor Clares. The first three are orders for men. The Poor Clares are a community of contemplative women. There are numerous other "active" orders for women—(ex. The Franciscan Sisters of Allegheny (OSF).

The largest branch of the family is the Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) which is comprised of several million lay persons who belong to local fraternities and may be married or single.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Friary

St. Bernardine of Siena Friary
St. Bernardine of Siena Friary

The building in which the friars live. Our friary is named for St. Bernardine of Siena.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Habit

This is the name given to the garb that is worn by the friars. It consists of a long robe, a "capuche" or hood that is removable, and a rope around the waist. The rope has three knots which represent the three vows that are taken by all friars: poverty, chastity and obedience.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Mendicant

The Franciscan Friars are itinerants and mendicants--a fancy way of saying that we move around and engage in begging. Few friars are actually engaged in begging today, but we do take a vow of poverty, which entails turning over the ownership of all our possessions to the order. Please note that we are NOT monks, though this word is often used inappropriately to describe us. One of the main differences is that monks are attached to one monastery for their entire lives. Most friars live in a number of different houses during their lifetimes.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

O.F.M.

Letters appearing at the end of a friar's name. O.F.M. stands for Order of Friars Minor, roughly speaking the Order of Lesser Brothers (in Latin, fratres minores). It does not stand for Old Fat Men or Out For Money.

St. Francis wanted his brothers to identify with the lesser ones (minores) of society, and not with the rich and powerful.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Province

Logo of Holy Name Province
Logo of Holy Name Province

The Franciscan Order (Order of Friars Minor) is divided into jurisdictional and geographical entities known as Provinces. The Friars at Siena College belong to the Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus. (The symbol of the Holy Name is found on the Siena College Seal.)

The head office of our province is at St. Francis of Assisi Friary on West 31st Street in New York City. We are sometimes referred to as the "New York Province." There are approximately 350 friars in our province (21 at Siena). We minister to people from our friaries on the east coast of the United States. Some members of our province work in countries outside the borders of the United States.

In 2001 we celebrated the 100th anniversary of our province's founding.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Transitus

Death of St. Francis
Death of St. Francis

This word refers to the death, or "passing to eternal life" of St. Francis. Each year it is celebrated at Siena and in Franciscan communities around the world on the evening of October 3rd.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

General Minister

Fr. Michael A. Perry, O.F.M.
Fr. Michael A. Perry, O.F.M.

Often referred to as the Minister General, this friar is considered the successor of St. Francis. He has as his charge, the oversight of the entire order. He resides in Rome at a place known as the "Curia."

The current General Minister is Fr. Michael A. Perry, an American from the Sacred Heart Province. A previous General Minister was Fr. Giacomo Bini, O.F.M. of Italy. Several years ago, we were honored by a visit from Fr. Giacomo. At that time he received an honorary degree from Siena.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Provincial Minister

Fr. Kevin J. Mullen, O.F.M.
Fr. Kevin J. Mullen, O.F.M.

The provincial minister is the friar who oversees a particular province. He is commonly called "The Provincial" and his place of residence is sometimes called the provincialate. The Provincial Minister is elected at a Chapter and serves a term of six years. He may be re-elected for one more three year term, but may not serve more than nine years. The current Provincial of Holy Name Province is Fr. Kevin J. Mullen, O.F.M., formerly the tenth President of Siena College.

The Provincial is always a member of the Siena College Board of Trustees. It is also the Provincial who officially "assigns" a friar to Siena after a period of consultation and preparation. Because of our vow of obedience, all friars need to ask the Provincial's permission to accept an offer of employment, and offers from Siena are no exception.

The Provincial is assisted by a Provincial Vicar (Fr. Lawrence Hayes, O.F.M.) and a Council of six friar advisors elected by the chapter. Several friars from Siena have served on the provincial council over the years.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Guardian

The Friar charged with oversight of a local community. St. Francis wanted to speak of "guardians" and not of "superiors" because all of the friars are lesser brothers. Thus Francis says in his rule that "No one is to be called prior." The guardian serves the spiritual and material needs of the community and is its official spokesperson.

The Guardian of the Siena Friary is currently Fr. Mark Reamer, O.F.M.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Vicar

The friar who oversees the local friary in the absence of the Guardian. The vicar also assists the Guardian in the management of Friary affairs. Siena Friary currently has two vicars, Fr. Ignatius Smith and Fr. Dennis Tamburello.