Franciscans take their name from St Francis of Assisi who inspired many people during his lifetime and continues to be a refreshing light today for a very diverse Franciscan movement. His experience of the love and mercy of God led him to see the goodness of God in everything and drew him to follow the gospel and imitate Christ as faithfully as possible. The poverty and humility of Jesus made such a deep impression on Francis that they became particular characteristics of his life and that of his followers. There is a substantial library of Franciscan sources. In these there is evidence that he was a messenger of peace and an instrument of reconciliation. Francis believed that all creation was vitally connected, sharing one Father-Creator, whose imprint can be found all around by those who seek to see it. He allowed God’s grace to transform him so that he became filled with love and mercy especially for those who were the poorest and the lowest in society. People were struck by the spirit of joy in Francis. He is recorded as a man of prayer in whom people recognised intimate closeness to God.
Some characteristics common to the members of the various Franciscan Orders present in Southwark today are: building up the Church, having particular concern for the poor and marginalised, prayer and contemplation, fraternity, living the Gospel, joy, striving for humility and simplicity in everyday life, engagement with the local community wherever members find themselves, care and respect for all creation, daily conversion, seeking justice and peace, and openness to dialogue.
Franciscans in Southwark Diocese today
First Order male communities
Canterbury: Order of Friars Minor, OFM, and Order of Friars Minor Conventual, Ofm Conv, based around the Franciscan International Study Centre; Erith: Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, OFM Cap, housing the curia and serving as a parish with brothers involved in a range of ministries; Waterloo – OFM Conventual, Curia for the Provincial Custody, also serving as a parish, with brothers serving the wider community.
Female congregations with houses in Southwark
London: Franciscan Missionaries of Mary and Franciscan Missionaries of the Divine Motherhood. Canterbury: Franciscan Missionary Sisters of St Joseph (Canterbury), the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Littlehampton (Canterbury). These sisters are part of larger missionary congregations and they serve their Orders and local parishes, according to need, and in ways appropriate for those who currently live in each community.
Secular Franciscan Order
There are various local fraternities in Southwark (click here for a link to the website - www.ofsgb.org)
There are no Poor Clare convents in Southwark diocese but there are Poor Clare communities in Hollington, East Sussex; Arundel, West Sussex and Arkley, North London.