The Secular Franciscan Order, formerly known as the Third Order of St. Francis, is an official Order within the Catholic Church, established by St. Francis of Assisi himself (http://www.franciscan-archive.org/patriarcha/) early in the thirteenth century.
Ordinarily, we do not live in community; rather, we live with our families and perform our jobs out in the world, gathering in fraternities on a regular basis.
By profession, we promise to follow a Rule of Life approved and confirmed by Pope Paul VI in June of 1978. You may read this Rule and the General Constitutions of the Secular Franciscan Order on this National Fraternity website.
The Rule and Constitutions might be a good place for you to begin your online inquiry. You might like to read more about St. Francis from numerous websites, including the one given above. You may pick up your phone and call 1-800-FRANCIS for more information. You might click on this list of Regions and Fraternities across the whole United States (http://www.nafra-sfo.org/regions.html) and see if you can find a fraternity near you to visit. You might email the Regional Minister for more details.
In these fraternities the brothers and sisters, led by the Spirit, strive for ongoing daily conversion, to turn away from sin and to be faithful to the Gospel. We seek, with and only with God’s grace, perfect charity in our secular state, helping one another in this journey closer to Christ, following in the footsteps of Sts. Francis and Clare (http://saints.sqpn.com/saint-clare-of-assisi/).