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Friars of the Sacred Heart Province

The Third Order Regular of St. Francis, (known as Franciscans, T.O.R.), is a religious community of Catholic priests and brothers dedicated to God. Our beginnings can be found in the Penitents of the Middle Ages: people who were seeking holiness in their daily lives. Francis of Assisi was himself a Penitent, but he gave this movement a new direction and spirit. The Third Order Regular of St. Francis has since become an international religious community serving God's people in many countries throughout the world.

The Friars of the Sacred Heart Province serve at two universities, Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio and St. Francis University, Loretto, PA. They also serve at many parishes throughout the United States.

Steps to Become a Student Friar


Formation in the Third Order Regular begins with the pre-novitiate, sometimes called postulancy. This nine-month formation period introduces you to religious life, initiates you into Franciscan spirituality, and emphasizes human development. During this time, you'll live at our pre-novitiate house in Loretto, Pennsylvania, and may be enrolled at St. Francis University as a part-time student. Most postulants take two courses each semester, which might include philosophy, religious studies, or pastoral ministry, and they are engaged in a weekly volunteer ministry. As a postulant, you'll be responsible for health and hospitalization insurance and other incidental expenses. The TOR community will pay for your room and board along with tuition costs at St. Francis University. Once you are admitted to the novitiate, all expenses will be paid by the TOR community. 


Novitiate is a response to God's call. It indicates that you have reached the human and spiritual maturity that allows you to respond to this call with sufficient and proper responsibility and freedom.

Novitiate begins when you have completed your postulancy and are invested in the religious habit. It lasts at least one year and may be extended depending upon your readiness for profession of temporary vows.

The novitiate year is devoted to the foundations of the spiritual life. It combines intensive prayer with instruction on spiritual direction, Franciscan history and spirituality, prayer, religious vows, and the Rule and Constitutions of the Third Order.

At the end of the novitiate, you will make temporary vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience for two years. Thereafter, you will renew your temporary vows until you are eligible to profess solemn vows, which are perpetually binding. A friar is ordinarily in temporary vows for four to five years.


After novitiate, our friars ordinarily live in our post-novitiate friary in Washington, DC. There, the formation process continues through training in various ministries. All friars, whether preparing for priesthood or brotherhood, participate in the same formational conferences and workshops about our Franciscan heritage and life. They also work in liturgical ministries at local churches each Sunday, in a volunteer ministry related to social justice, and in various summer ministries.

Friars who are called to brotherhood pursue either academic degrees or vocational programs at local educational institutions. These programs, along with courses in theology, will further prepare them for ministry.

Friars called to the priesthood pursue either the Master of Divinity Degree (MDiv) or the Joint Degree Program (MDiv/MA) at Washington Theological Union or the Catholic University of America  in preparation for ordained ministry. They will also spend a year of diaconate internship at one of our parishes or institutions.

All friars in temporary vows spend a year of apostolic internship by living at one of our friaries and ministering at one of our province's institutions. Ordinarily, all friars return to our post-novitiate friary for their final year in temporary vows. During this year, they prepare intensively to make their life-long commitment.

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