UPDATED – CINCINNATI (CNS) — Franciscans of the Order of Friars Minor in six of the order’s U.S. provinces voted May 30 to form one new organization to reinvigorate Franciscan life in this country.
Friars in each of those six provinces took the vote at meetings in their respective communities. The provinces have been in dialogue about unifying since 2012.
Once established the organization would be made up of the almost 1,000 Franciscan brothers and priests who belong to the existing provinces. A location for its headquarters will be determined later.
“The other provincial ministers and I are delighted with the outcome of the vote,” said Father David Gaa, provincial minister of the St. Barbara Province, based in Oakland, California. “This is an important step in the process of revitalizing Franciscan life in the United States.”
The reconfiguration into one organization will not happen immediately. The next step in the process is to obtain approval to unify from the order’s minister general, Father Michael Perry, who is based in Rome.
If he decides this reconfiguration would be helpful to Franciscan life and ministry, he will appoint a delegate to visit the friars in the United States, according to a news release about the friars’ vote. If the delegate’s report is favorable, it is expected that the process of reconfiguration will move forward, with the new province to be officially formed in late 2022 or early 2023.
In addition to the St. Barbara Province, the U.S. provinces are: Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, based in Franklin, Wisconsin; Holy Name, which has its headquarters on 31st Street in New York City; Our Lady of Guadalupe, based in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Sacred Heart, based in St. Louis; and St. John the Baptist, based in Cincinnati.
A seventh U.S. province of Franciscans of the Order of Friars Minor — the Immaculate Conception Province, also based in New York City — already had decided to not participate in the process.
“The new entity will better serve the friars’ fraternal life and mission in the United States by making adjustments to the current administrative structure,” said Father Jack Clark Robinson, provincial minister of Our Lady of Guadalupe Province.
Like many other religious communities in the U.S., the Franciscan order is facing a reduction in the number of its members. During the 1960s and 1970s, the number of Friars Minor in the United States peaked at 3,252, but today there are under 1,000 friars.
The worldwide Franciscan order, founded in 1209 by St. Francis of Assisi, comprises brothers and priests who work in a variety of settings including parishes, schools, retreat centers and social justice ministries. Today, St. Francis, whose feast day is Oct. 4, remains one of the most widely known saints, revered for his affection for nature and care for creation.
Help us keep you informed -- CatholicPhilly.com can't do it with youDuring CatholicPhilly.com's fall donation campaign, you have a way to help us deliver the kind of news you need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live. Every household's costs keep rising, and we're no different. We make sure your dollars in any amount go a long way toward continuing our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month. Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can -- a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Or by credit card here: