The Secular Franciscan Order (formerly called the 3rd Order Franciscans) form
an integral part of the Franciscan family.
St Francis of Assisi was aware that many people wanted to share in his Gospel lifestyle but were unable to, because of responsibilities to family and other commitments. Hence he founded the Secular Order whereby members lived "in the world" without the need to abandon their responsibilities. Blessed Luchesio and his wife Buonadonna are traditionally believed to be the 1st members. Thousands have since followed their footsteps: St Louis King of France, St Elizabeth Queen of Hungary, Pope John XXIII, St John Bosco, St Joan of Arc, St Charles Borromeo, just to name a few.
The Secular Franciscans were established in China in the 17th century by Portuguese
friars in Macau. Today there are 3 chinese fraternities and 1 english-speaking
fraternity in the Hong Kong-Macau region. The total number of members is about
200. The english-speaking fraternity is served by the Studium Biblicum which
provides a spiritual assistent.