I am Bishop Michael Anthony Gifford, FESC and I am the acting Minister General for the Franciscans of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (FESC). Archbishop Edmund Cass, the founder of our order, has asked me to jot down a few words regarding our order.
First of all we are a unique Franciscan community within the umbrella of the International Old Catholic Churches. We are made up of men and women, married and single who have heard the call of Jesus to serve the church through the voice of Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi. We are vowed to a life of simplicity of soul and spirit as taught by Saint Francis. We are devoted to a life of prayer and sacrifice, however, most of us live in the outside world and have the cares and challenges that is a part of every human’s life. So are we something special? In a way, I say yes! We are special in the sense that we see life as something to be lived; lived with joy and gladness. We see the face of God in the sky, the grass at our feet, the flowers in the field and in the faces of the poor and neglected of this world. We are men and women who are devoted to the Caritas of the Christian Life.
To show this Caritas, we wear a simple brown tunic with a capuche, rope cincture and attached to the cincture is the seven decade rosary known as the Franciscan Crown. The Crown celebrates the joys in the Life of Mary our Mother. Many of us live in our own homes, however, there is the option to live in community if one so chooses. We live the evangelical vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. We pledge our lives to these vows with great joy. Most of us work in some type of job that is of service to the community. Like the priests of the IOCC, we are to be self-sufficient and so we must have a source of income for ourselves. Neither the church nor the order has the funds to support its clergy or members. We live in the world but we are not of the world. We live our lives in service of others and of the church.
If you feel that you are called to our way of life, you can contact the Right Rev. Aaron Edmund Cass, FESC at firstname.lastname@example.org or the Right Rev Gregory Godsey, FESC at email@example.com or the Right Rev. Michael Anthony Gifford, FESC at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are looking forward in hearing from you!