To live as a friar means to live in a community of men bound by a common mission. This mission is to carry out the message of Jesus Christ as St. Francis of Assisi understood it. Friars do this through something called the Vows. These vows are public commitments that each Friar must personally make stating that he will live without finances (Poverty), unmarried (Chastity), and sacrificing his needs for the needs of others (Obedience). Friars share what resources they have or gain so that the whole community may be enriched and that they might enrich the lives of others. The vows are not intended to be burdens, but are embraced as a means of opening one's life to the goodness of God and God's grace in one's life. Francis always speaks of accepting the vows with joy. It is hope that the witness of a friar's life will free others from the imprisoning and often times demeaning tendencies of materialism and contemporary culture. In all things, a friar hopes to be a witness to all people of the power of God's love and presence in human life and history.
First, all Franciscan friars are brothers. We are a community of men who join together to share a common life, a common mission, and a common destiny. We are drawn to this life by God and by a love for God that seeks expression in concrete ways. Second, the "work" of Franciscans if often called "ministry." Ministry is work given from the heart, not the result of any financial compensation or desire for recognition; this distinguishes it in some ways from "work" that is engaged in to make a living. Third, God calls some within the Franciscan community to what is known as ordained ministry. This is the ministry of priesthood. As a Franciscan priest a person has the ability to preside at the administer some of the sacraments int he Church, like the Eucharist, Reconciliation, and Anointing of the Sick. This ability to perform sacramental ministry is the most significant difference between a priest and brother within the Franciscan Order. So it is perfectly appropriate to refer to a Franciscan by the title of "Brother."
The title of Guardian is given to the person who is the head of the Friary. The Guaridan is to look after the friars in residence at the Friary. He is the one the friars turn to whenever they need something, when they need an ear to listen, or when one has an idea for the community. He sets the tone for the house and, with the help of the Vicar of the Friary, decides on policies and the vision for a particular year. In addition, the Guardian is in charge of the upkeep and administration of the Friary, and he acts as the principle liaison between the Franciscan Community and the Province.