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Community FAQs

What is Charism?

A charism is a gift or grace of the Holy Spirit given to individuals for the sake of others. It is a freely given gift, a sign of God’s unconditional and extravagant love. The individual or group, who receives a charism, receives it for the benefit of others.

By its very nature, a charism is to be shared … it cannot be retained within boundaries. It is a gift of dynamic life and energy for the building up of all of God’s creation. The Wheaton Franciscan community is blessed with a rich and vibrant Franciscan heritage.

St. Francis guides us in specific ways to follow the Gospel message. St. Clare teaches us the values of contemplation and community life. Mother M. Clara Pfaender, our foundress, encourages us to integrate our contemplative and active lives in whatever way we are to serve others.

Why are Franciscan communities described as Evangelical?

Franciscan communities are sometimes referred to as evangelical, as opposed to monastic or apostolic. The word evangelical has a particular connotation for Franciscans, evangelical simply means living the Gospel, following the example of Jesus, who took time in prayer and reflection and served the needs of God’s people.

May I visit your community?

Yes, you are welcome to visit our Community. Please explore our website for more information on how to connect with the Community.

What is the difference between a Vowed Member and a Covenant Companion?

Vowed members are called to respond to God’s love through a public profession of canonical vows. A vowed member is a Catholic woman who experiences God’s invitation to make a life commitment as a religious sister. She discerns this call over a period of 5 to 9 years of preparation, and then professes perpetual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

Covenant Companions (associates) are women and men who, after a period of study and mutual discernment, feel called to respond to God’s love through a formal relationship with the Wheaton Franciscan community.

Covenant Companions proclaim their commitment through a public covenant that is reflected upon annually.

Do your Sisters wear the traditional Habit?

Our Sisters wore a traditional habit for many years until the Pope and Cardinals, during the Second Vatican Council, asked that Women Religious update their form of dress.

The reason for this change is that historically, when many religious communities came into existence, they wore the dress or clothing of the day. As times and clothing styles changed, the dress of Women Religious did not. After Vatican II, the Church called for Women Religious to dress as the people of the times, just as Jesus and Mary dressed as the people of their time.