The Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Littlehampton is a Congregation of Diocesan right, following the Rule of the Third Order Regular of St Francis in accordance with our Constitutions and making public profession of the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience. We dedicate ourselves to the service of the Church and the people of God.
Francis was called in a thirteenth century world. We are called by Christ to live the Gospel in the modern world. Our aim is to witness to the Good News in the spirit of St Francis whose supreme endeavour; his greatest wish and highest goal was to observe the Gospel in all and through all. With keen observation, genuine zeal, complete longing in spirit and total fervour of heart he endeavoured to follow perfectly the teaching of Our Lord and walk in His footsteps. Living by the Gospel and following Christ is our most important means of building up the Kingdom of God.
Our Constitutions state:
“Christ in His earthly life had no other goal but to glorify the Father and make Him known so that we might have life, and that we might have it more abundantly (Jn. 10:10). With his whole heart St Francis loved Jesus, the Word Incarnate, who became our Brother that He might make us brothers and sisters and children of His Father. Francis endeavoured to reflect the human side of the Person of our Saviour, thus making it possible for everyone to respond in deep love to the Word of the Father made flesh in Jesus”.
St Francis offers us the example of sisterhood and brotherhood with all God’s creation. Let us find ways to live simply, in harmony with all people and Mother Earth; not exploiting but respectfully using and enhancing God’s gifts. Thus we co-operate in the renewal of creation with God the source of all Good.
The central aim of our Franciscan Vocation is therefore to make the love of God the Absolute and Supreme Value, through our personal encounter with Christ. The goal of our life consists in a constant search for God and His purpose in a radical faith commitment. All the elements of our Franciscan Life derive from, and are motivated by, this basic and life-long search for God in faith.
Life in a community of love and service is the privileged place of our meeting with God. As a community we must be open to the needs and aspirations of the larger community of the Church and the whole human family. In bringing God’s love, experienced in community, we should be actively involved in issues concerning justice and peace in the world, without pretensions to judge, but rather always upholding the dignity of every person.
The Church, where the authentic word of God is heard and received, was cherished and loved by St Francis. Therefore we will show that same love and loyalty to the Church in the living out of our Franciscan Charism in today’s world.
As followers of St Francis, our witnessing to the Gospel must be in deed as well as in word. Our spirit of prayer and manner of life will then be one which anticipates the new humanity around the Risen Christ and His Spirit.
We must be examples of Christian modesty and courtesy, showing that reverence for others, which St Francis referred to when he said, “Wherever the brothers may be or if perchance they should meet, let them show respect and deference to each other.” Where deference and respect prevail, another admonition of St Francis will be fulfilled: “They should not engage in slander, grumbling and detraction, for it is written: ‘Whisperers and detractors are hateful to God.’”(Rom 29)
As members of Christ’s Mystical body living together in community, we will develop a deep awareness of Christ present in each Sister, through the care and respect we have for one another.
(a) As true Franciscans living in obedience to Christ we will be generous and cheerful in helping one another by living in forgiveness and self-sacrifice.
(b) We will encourage one another to endure difficulties in a spirit of joy and faith.
The Community is governed by the House Chapter – the function is to:
(a) Examine the community prayer life, the observance of the Rule and Constitutions and the living of the Evangelical Counsels;
(b) Consider times and methods of spiritual exercises, silences, retreats and the Divine Office in accordance with the Constitutions;
(c) Supervise common life, recreation, holidays, poverty, apostolic works, extraordinary holidays and change of mission, and where required by the Constitutions or Directives, will submit proposals to Mother General and Council for permission and approval; (cf.Dir. 4-6)
(d) Concern themselves with gifts given and received by the community, the quarterly financial returns and all money matters and any extension or building programmes.
The House Chapter has a deliberative vote for extraordinary expenditure within the limits laid down by Mother General and the Council. Other purchases which affect the finances of the House come within the competence of the House Chapter.
As consecrated religious following the example of St Francis, our first apostolate is to be living witnesses of the Gospel. Dedicated to Christ we strive to build up the Kingdom of God within our communities by lives of prayer, detachment and love, thus witnessing to the reality of the Kingdom among all people.As a community we will work to extend the Kingdom of God within the Church and the world by our Franciscan presence and by our service to all God’s people through word and work in various apostolates.In our efforts to evangelise we share in Christ’s redemptive mission. We should therefore be concerned with justice-related issues, moral and ethical developments and keep abreast of the Church’s teaching.The work and the spirit of the community is the responsibility of each individual Sister. The Community Leader is the appointed delegate of the Mother General and is obliged to provide for the needs of the Sisters. She is at the service of the sisters to affirm them, and help them to develop responsible choices in their spiritual growth, assigned tasks accomplished in harmony and good will.
To Live the Gospel Life is Gift and Grace.