The Franciscan vocation is one expression of what is known as Consecrated Life. The “Consecrated” are those who have been called to deepen their baptismal consecration to Christ not through the married state but through vows, normally the vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience. The fundamental “color” of a Franciscan friar’s following of Jesus through vowed life is decided by the example of Francis of Assisi and the whole Franciscan tradition.
Among those who are called to follow Jesus in this way, some receive an additional call, which must always be verified through proper discernment and confirmed by the Church. This additional call is to serve the other friars and all of the baptized through sacramental ministry. That is, on a priest is conferred a “sacred power,” as Church language has it, which configures him to Christ in a specific way. Namely, it grants him the authority to act in the person of Christ, the Head of the Church, making available to the other baptized his gifts of Word and Sacrament.
In the specific expression of priesthood in the charism of the Franciscans of the Renewal, as confirmed by the Church, the priest never ceases to be a friar, a follower in the footsteps of Jesus in the manner of St. Francis and the Franciscan tradition. He will, therefore, continue to serve the poor and participate in daily friary life, in many ways side-by-side with the non-ordained friar, even while sacramental duties may balance his priorities differently. As is true for the other friars, though now with a sacramental aspect, he will support the life of the Church not by administering parishes, but by complementing the ministry of parish priests through evangelization, missions, spiritual direction, etc.
“As for priests who profess the evangelical counsels, experience itself shows that the Sacrament of Holy Orders finds a particular fruitfulness in this consecration, inasmuch as it requires and fosters a closer union with the Lord. The priest who professes the evangelical counsels is especially favored in that he reproduces in his life the fullness of the mystery of Christ, thanks also to the specific spirituality of his Institute and the apostolic dimension of its proper charism. In the priest, in fact, the vocation to the priesthood and the vocation to the consecrated life converge in a profound and dynamic unity. Also of immeasurable value is the contribution made to the Church's life by religious priests completely devoted to contemplation. Especially in the celebration of the Eucharist they carry out an act of the Church and for the Church, to which they join the offering of themselves, in communion with Christ who offers himself to the Father for the salvation of the whole world” (Pope John Paul II, Vita Consecrata, 30).