Franciscan Focus

Just a simple blog of a Secular Franciscan trying to live with a Franciscan focus.
(And one of these days I'll fix the template and add a Search feature. :-P)

08 October 2012

What's with the "OFS" and "SFO" after your name? 

Yeah, it can get a bit confusing.If by some strange sickness, you go lookin' through older posts and comments here, you'll see the acronym "SFO" after my name. However, more current ones have "OFS". Any normal person would see this and say, "Huh?" So, I 'splain it for you.

Folks in orders (religious and seculars) put their orders' acronyms after their names to indicate their membership in said orders. For example, "Brother John Smith, OP" indicates that he's a member of the Order of Preachers (Ordo Praedicatorum, "OP"). "Sister Jane Doe, FSP" indicates she's a member of the arse-kickingly awesometastical Daughters of Saint Paul (Figliae Sancti Pauli, "FSP").

As you can see in these examples, the abbreviations correspond with the Latin form of the names. That way, everyone, regardless of country/language, has the same acronym, which emphasizes the universality of the order and has the side benefit of reducing confusion.

Now, for those of us Secular Franciscans in English-speaking countries, we used to list the English abberviations -- "SFO" for "Secular Franciscan Order" -- after our names. However, everyone else used the proper "OFS" -- for Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis -- after their names. And as you can imagine, it caused continual confusion, along with fragmenting our identity.

Finally, late last year (2011), Rome said*, "Hey, enough! Use 'OFS' like everyone else!", which was A Very Good Move. So, since then, we've all been switching to "OFS". Naturally, it's taking awhile for the changes to propagate everywhere, so you'll still see "SFO" references and stuff all ova' the place. But, we'll get there, eventually. We've been around since 1221, so yeah, we're used to adapting. ;-) Oh, bonus trivia tidbit: We were orignally called "The Brothers and Sisters of Penance".

So, now you know. And knowing is half the battle. Go forth and win at Trivial Pursuit!

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* Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis, 2011 General Chapter: "The Official Name of the Order" (PDF)

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I almost wish we would go back to the original name. Outside of the Church, it seems the word "secular" has a completely different set of connotations. It causes a little bit of confusion when I tell people I'm a Secular Franciscan but I'm not secular. And don't get me started when I tell people I'm going to a fraternity meeting. I believe the image people have is a bunch of people dancing in togas and drinking from beer kegs.

08 October, 2012 23:27  
Blogger Lisa, ofs said...

Wait, you mean your fraternity doesn't dance around in togas and toss back beers?

Just kidding! I hear ya -- it's definitely kinda' frustrating to explain it. And attempting to get at the meaning by using the term, 'lay Franciscan', just gets Beavis and Butthead chuckles.

::eye roll

08 October, 2012 23:59  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Lisa for clarifying the "OFS" and "SFO" acronyms.
As a newcomer to the third order, I have a strong desire (inspired by the Holy Spirit) to spread Jesus' message of love to others. I have no problem with the word "secular" for our order. In fact, this term provides a common ground on which we can humbly walk with our brothers and sisters and spread the good news that only Jesus can bring to our world. Following in the footsteps of our founder, may God bless us as we go forth to gather the lost sheep for the glory of God. Amen!

15 August, 2017 11:36  

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