Story by S.L. Hansen
(SNR) - Catholics who wish to enhance their personal spirituality often find the help they need in third orders of religious orders such as the Benedictines, the Franciscans, etc.
Secular third orders are designed for people who are not called to live in community but are still attracted to the charism of the religious community. As members of a Third Order, they can fulfill the rule of the order and its charisms as they continue in their vocation in marriage, parenthood, etc.
Generally, “regular” third orders take vows and live in convents, while “secular” third orders make solemn promises instead of taking vows and live ‘in the world.’ Any Catholic may join a third order, but not multiple third orders.
Worldwide, third orders include Benedictines, Carmelites, Dominicans, Franciscans, the Province of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and Servites. In the Diocese of Lincoln, individuals can become one of the Benedictine Oblates, who follow the Rule of Saint Benedict, or join either Secular Franciscans or Marian Associates, both of which are based on Franciscan spirituality.
Benedictine Oblates are Christian men and women of all faiths who “live in today’s society to bring the world to God by being a witness to Christ by word and example to those around them.”
Each oblate studies the Rule of St. Benedict and pledges him/herself to a life of deeper prayer through Lectio Divina, the Liturgy of the Hours in the monastic tradition, and the study of spirituality. Generally, they meet at least once a month. There is no cost other than the occasional purchase of books.
There are three Benedictine Oblate chapters in the diocese: Hastings, Lincoln and Steinauer. All three will be holding orientation sessions in August for new members.
The Hastings chapter will meet Saturday, Aug. 13 at 9:30 a.m. in the family room at St. Michael Catholic Church. To sign up, contact Juliene Bryan (Oblate Dean), at 402-984- 4674 or visit www.nebraskabenedictineoblates.org.
Lincoln’s orientation will be held at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital at 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 28 in Sheridan Rooms A and B. Contact Senior Dean Carol Olson at 402-486-0864, Carol Barry at 402-488-8221, or visit the website to sign up.
The Steinauer chapter orientation will be held Monday, Aug. 29 at 7 p.m. at the Convent House across from St. Anthony Church. Sign up with Marcia Borcher (Oblate Dean) at 402-869-2342 or visit the website.
The Diocese of Lincoln’s chapter of Third Order Franciscans is for both men and women who are called to “live the experience of Francis, who made the Virgin the guide of his activity. With her, like the disciples at Pentecost, they should welcome the Spirit to create a community of love.” This group meets monthly under the spiritual direction of Sister Veronica Volkmer, M.S.
The Marian Sisters Associates is a group of secular women of all ages who follow the spirit of the Sisters. Activities throughout the year include daily rosary, monthly holy hour, Masses, an annual retreat to renew the solemn promises made at the end of one’s formation, and frequent assistance to the Sisters for professions, jubilees, etc.
Sister Kathryn Maney is the current spiritual director of this group. New members are brought in by invitation of current members and experience a year-long formation process to introduce them to Franciscan spirituality.