One of the most common misconceptions about the Catholic priesthood is that all priests take a vow of poverty. In fact, most do not. Diocesan priests do not even make vows, they make “promises” of obedience to their bishop: chastity and to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. Vows, on the other hand, are typically made by members of religious orders, such as Franciscans, Benedictines, Dominicans, et. al. These vows typically include poverty, obedience, and chastity.
So where does the concept of the “Vow of Poverty” come from? Some religious orders in the Church are known as “Mendicant Orders”. Mendicants, from the Latin word “mendicans”, meaning begging, are members of those religious orders which by vow of poverty renounce all proprietorship not only individually but also (and in this differing from the monks) in common, relying for support on their own work and on the charity of the faithful. The first order commonly known as a mendicant order was the Franciscans, founded by Saint Francis of Assisi, a man born into wealth and luxury, who gave away all his worldly possessions.
St. Francis did not originally intend that begging and alms should be the normal means of sustenance for his friars. On the contrary, he intended them to live by the work of their hands and to have recourse to begging only when they could not earn their livelihood by work. But as the friars soon came nearly all to be priests devoted to spiritual ministrations and as the communities grew larger, it became increasingly difficult for them to support themselves by personal work; and so begging came to play a greater role than had been contemplated by St. Francis.
The Franciscans have, through the centuries, contributed immeasurably to the Church, asking only beggars’ sustenance. To this day they continue to rely on the faithful to continue their works and mission.
In our efforts to seek out lost souls and bring them to Christ and His Church, the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word serve God through a variety of works. Though our chief apostolate is at EWTN, the Friars are a separate financial entity who rely on your prayers and financial support. By offering your prayers and contributing financially to our formation, education and works of evangelization, you automatically become a part of our mission and share in the fruitfulness of our apostolate.
To help support the friars, please consider clicking donating even the smallest amount so we may continue to serve Christ and His Church!