Here are some the questions we often get from inquirers. Click the question to see our response.
- Aren't religious orders Roman Catholic?
- How many different denominations are part of OEF?
- Where is the OEF headquarters located?
- When do you gather as an Order?
- I am married. What can I do with OEF?
- Where is the statement of faith for the OEF?
- What kind of habit does the Order wear?
- Are all your members clergy?
- I am gay. Is there a place in the Order for me?
Have another question that's not listed here? Contact us and let us know!
Aren't religious orders Roman Catholic?
Not at all. Other Christian communions have religious orders as well, and there are ecumenical orders like ours. In the Anglican communion, for example, the Franciscan tradition is represented by the Society of Saint Francis and the TSSF. Anglicans also have the Order of the Holy Cross (Benedictine), the Order of Julian of Norwich, and others (For a list of Anglican orders and religious communities, click here.). In the United Methodist Church, the Order of Saint Luke "is dedicated to sacramental and liturgical scholarship, education, and practice." The most well-known ecumenical religious community is probably the Taizé community in France, noted for its approach to worship with the simple beauty of chant and silence.
The Order of Ecumenical Franciscans is catholic in that we affirm the catholicity (universality) of the Church, but we are not Roman Catholic. As a truly ecumenical order, the OEF is not under the jurisdiction of any particular communion. We are governed by the leadership of the professed members of the Order in accordance with our Constitution and Bylaws. We welcome members from all Christian traditions.
How many different denominations are part of OEF?
It depends on how you count them, of course, but a scan through our roster shows these traditions represented among our members:
United Church of Christ
Roman Catholic Church
Presbyterian Church (PCUSA)
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
Metropolitan Community Churches
United Church of Canada
American Baptist Churches
Assembly of God
By the time this is posted to the Web, there may very well be others!
Where is the OEF headquarters located?
There is not a physical "headquarters" for the OEF. Our membership is scattered around the world, from New Zealand to the UK. Our current Minister General, Craig Robert Miller, OEF, lives in Peoria, Illinois. There is a Director of Formation Counseling who acts as the contact person for those inquiring about joining our order. For other questions, please click here.
When do you gather as an Order?
The gathering of the whole Order takes place in a two-part meeting each year. The first part is our Chapter -- the time when the professed members deal with the business of the Order. The second is Convocation -- a couple of days of community worship, reflection, training, and fellowship. We strongly encourage the curious to come to Convocation as visitors, in order to get to know us personally. Many have found this to be the best single step in deciding whether to pursue membership with OEF. The place we most recently gathered (2012) for our annual meeting is Our Lady of Fatima Retreat House, Indianapolis. In 2013 we'll be meeting at the Capuchin Retreat Center in Detroit.
I am married. What can I do with OEF?
Anything you wish! Our membership consists of people who are both married and single. We do not determine membership based on marital status, gender, or sexual orientation.
Where is the statement of faith for the OEF?
We do not have a statement of faith for the Order. As catholic Christians (that is, as Christians who affirm the universality of the Church), we affirm the faith represented by the two historic Creeds of the Church, the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed.
What kind of habit does the Order wear?
The official "habit" of the OEF is the San Damiano cross, which is given by the Order to each member at his or her profession. Some professed members choose to wear distinctive clothing along with the San Damiano cross. The wearing of distinctive clothing is neither encouraged nor discouraged, but is a personal choice and decision that is available to professed members only.
Are all your members clergy?
Absolutely not! In fact, the Franciscan movement was originally a lay movement. It didn't take long before the Franciscan orders became thoroughly "clergified" like other religious orders, but we strongly affirm the presence and leadership of all people, lay and clergy, as part of the OEF.
Yes. This Order makes no distinction and does not determine membership based on gender or sexual orientation.