The Franciscan Family

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The Franciscan family is a very large and diverse group. The basic breakdown within the Catholic Church is into three orders:

First Order: Male, broken down into 3 groups: 

1) OFM
2) Capuchins (OFMCap)

3) Conventuals (OFMConv)

 Second Order: Female, consisting of various groups of Poor Clare Nuns

Third Order: Both male and female.  
There are 2  breakdowns here:

1) Third Order Regular
2) Third Order Secular (Secular Franciscan Order)

Further breakdowns are made into provinces, which are sometimes geographical and sometimes not. Along with this there can be vice-provinces and custodies. There can also be groups outside this structure such as various pious associations, secular institutes and non-canonical groups. There are also some meta-organizations built around Franciscans in a certain country or working in a particular kind of ministry.  There are even some Franciscan groups outside the Catholic Church, like the various groups of Anglican Franciscans.

By far the most diverse part of the Franciscan Family is the Third Order Regular groups. The largest male group is the TORís, but there are also other smaller male groups. The female groups are very numerous and widespread, and each is an order unto itself.

This area on the web page will contain lists of the various parts of the Franciscan Family worldwide. The lists will not act as current directories, but rather will be historic in nature, giving references in standard printed sources to descriptions of the groups. Emphasis will be given to Third Order womenís groups since these are so numerous and present the greatest problems in keeping them straight. Identification of these Third Order groups will be made first by place, since the names of these bodies are so often similar. Since even in standard reference works there are conflicting historical descriptions of the Third Order womenís groups any comments or corrections to these lists will be accepted gratefully. 

                                                                                                                         Paul J. Spaeth


Franciscan Institute Library 
The Franciscan Institute ; St. Bonaventure University ; Friedsam Memorial Library