Society of St Francis

The Society of Saint Francis (SSF) is a Franciscan religious order within the Anglican Communion.

The Society of Saint Francis comprises the Brothers of the First Order; the Sisters of the First Order; the Sisters of the Second Order; the Brothers and Sisters of the Third Order.[1] Francis of Assisi and Clare of Assisi, the founders of the Franciscan movement produced separate rules for three parallel orders - the First Order were to be mendicant friars, embracing poverty as a gift from God and living the community life in the world and serving the poor. The Second Order were to be a parallel community of sisters living a more enclosed life of prayer and contemplation. The Third Order was to consist of brothers and sisters not living in community, nor under full monastic vows, but nevertheless taking simple promises and following a rule of life in the world. These three orders still co-exist as parts of the Franciscan family.[2]

Within Anglicanism, the Brothers of the First Order are called the Society of Saint Francis (SSF); the Sisters of the First Order are called the Community of Saint Francis (CSF); the members of the Second Order are called the Community of Saint Clare (OSC); and the Brothers and Sisters of the Third Order are called the Third Order of the Society of Saint Francis (TSSF).[3]


During the English Reformation all religious orders, including Franciscans, were banished from Britain. Not until the mid 19th century were the first sisterhoods refounded in the Church of England, in response to the social needs of the time. Then came a revival of interest in Francis. The Community of St Francis (CSF) was founded in 1905 with sisters living in poverty and working in the East End of London.

Shortly after and here the group of friends was able to offer shelter to the exhausted wayfarers and others in temporary need of help.

In 1934, another small group (led by Father Algy) who had a clearer idea of forming a religious order joined Brother Douglas (as he liked to be called). Gradually the little community took shape, modelling itself more consciously on the Franciscan tradition of prayer and study, as well as working with the poor. It started to look like a religious order in formal sense, with habits, a chapel, and regular worship. The Society of Saint Francis came into being, followed by the Third Order in 1936, and the Second Order in 1950 with the establishment of the Community of Saint Clare in Freeland, Witney.

Before long, invitations came to establish centres in other places and at the start of World War II, there were houses in south London and Cambridge. After the war other centres were opened in Britain. Establishments overseas followed and the Society now has friaries in the United States, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Costa Rica, and the Solomon Islands. Other communities were made in Germany, Italy, Africa and the West Indies.

The Daily Office, SSF's office book, was among the first to be fully updated with the Common Worship lectionary, so was used in the wider Anglican Communion. It provided the model for Morning and Evening Prayer in Common Worship.


Each part of the order is under the leadership of a minister general, currently Br Clark SSF (elected in 2007) for the First Order brothers, Sr Joyce CSF (elected in 2002) for the First Order sisters, and the Revd Dorothy Brooker TSSF (elected in 2005) for the Third Order brothers and sisters. Under the minister general the order is divided into provinces, each governed by a minister provincial. The Second Order, being enclosed, elect an abbess, and are currently active only in the United Kingdom. In 2012 the membership stood at approximately 200 members in community (combined First and Second Orders) and 3,000 dispersed members (Third Order).[5]

First Order: SSF

European Province

The European Province currently has the following houses of the order:

  • Alnmouth, Northumberland
  • Bentley, Yorkshire
  • Canterbury, Kent
  • Glasshampton, Worcestershire
  • Hilfield, Dorset
  • Leeds, Yorkshire
  • Cowgate, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
  • Canning Town, London
  • Plaistow (Balaam Street), London
  • Plaistow (St Mary's Road), London

Province of the Americas

The American Province currently has the following houses of the order:

  • Mount Sinai, New York
  • San Francisco, California
  • Los Angeles, California
  • Sao Paulo, Brazil

Province of Divine Compassion

The Divine Compassion Province, which covers Australia, New Zealand and Korea, has the following houses of the order:

  • Stroud, New South Wales
  • Brisbane, Queensland
  • Hamilton, New Zealand
  • Chuncheon, Korea

Province of the Solomon Islands

The Solomon Islands Province has the following houses of the order:

  • Honiara, Guadalcanal (Patteson House)
  • Honiara, Guadalcanal (Little Portion)
  • Honiara, Guadalcanal (St Bonaventure Friary)
  • Honiara, Guadalcanal (Michael Davis Friary)
  • Auki, Malaita
  • Kira Kira, Makira Ulawa
  • Lata, Temotu

Papua New Guinea Province

The Papua New Guinea Province has the following houses of the order:

  • Popondetta, Oro (St Mary of the Angels Friary)
  • Popondetta, Oro (Geoffrey's Friary)
  • Popondetta, Oro (Martyrs' House)
  • Port Moresby
  • Alotau, Milne Bay

First Order: CSF

European Province

The European Province currently has the following houses of the order:

American Province

The American Province, established in 1974, is currently located in a single house:


The semi-autonomous mission in Korea is not yet large enough to achieve provincial status, and the single convent at Gumi is part of the European Province, and under the authority of the European Minister Provincial.

Second Order

Third Order

The Society of St Francis includes an order of tertiaries, lay or ordained individuals who have taken vows and are followers of a version of the Franciscan rule but do not normally live together in community.[6][7] It is currently divided into five provinces.

See also

Anglicanism portal


External links

First Order (Society of Saint Francis, SSF)

  • WorldWide links to Anglican Franciscans
  • European Province - Brothers (SSF) and Sisters (CSF)
  • Province of the Americas - Brothers
  • Australian Province
  • New Zealand Province
  • Brazilian Friary - Comunidade do Brasil, in Portuguese (Brazilian)
  • A Life in Order: the memoirs of Brother Francis SSF 2003 autobiography with photographs

First Order (Community of Saint Francis, CSF)

  • Province of the Americas - Sisters

Second Order (Community of Saint Clare, OSC)

  • European Province

Third Order (TSSF)

  • Province of Australia, Papua New Guinea and East Asia
  • European Province
  • Province of the Americas
  • New Zealand Province
  • Records of the Society (1920-2005) at Lambeth Palace Library

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