Franciscan Friars Third Order Regular
During this 25th anniversary year I would like to take this opportunity to re-introduce to you the Franciscan community that has served Saint Mary Our Lady of Grace so faithfully.
The history of the Franciscan movement is too complex to summarize here. Suffice it to say that Saint Francis of Assisi in the 13th century shaped a remarkable reform movement in the Church. His followers initially formed three distinct groups -- an order of male religious, called the Friars Minor, an order of contemplative women, the Poor Clares, and an order of lay men and women originally called the penitents, now the Secular Franciscan Order. Each of these groups has further sub-divided in the course of history. Our group is called the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis of Penance (TOR for short) and it grew out of the secular Franciscan movement in Francis’ lifetime. We are the smallest of the orders of Franciscan men, numbering about 853 members in 8 provinces, 5 vice-provinces and 3 delegations world-wide. Our province, called the Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, has 133 members. Our Minister Provincial, Fr. Richard Davis, TOR, resides in Loretto PA. at Saint Francis Friary. It is from there that the Minister Provincial and his council govern the province in the United States. Our Minister General, Fr. Nicholas Polichnowski, TOR resides at the Basilica of Saints Cosmas and Damian in Rome, Italy. This is the Motherhouse for the Franciscan Friars TOR world-wide.
Our friars have ministered in the Diocese of Saint Petersburg since the 1980’s. Along with Saint Mary Our Lady of Grace we are currently serving as well at Saint Patrick in Tampa. It is with great hope that as we continue to grow as a community here at Saint Mary Our Lady of Grace you will have the opportunity to meet many members of our Franciscan family. One day some of our young friars may even spend part of their years of training with us, learning pastoral ministry from the parishioners and staff.
The values which Saint Francis embraced and urged on his followers were a simple life in conformity with the gospel, a life of continuing conversion to the Lord and His kingdom, a life of prayer, of peace, and of harmony with all creation. Francis called his first followers “little brothers” because he wanted them to imitate the humility of Christ. He himself wandered about the world, announcing good news, begging his food, and reconciling alienated and angry people. His special compassion, like that of his Master, was reserved for the poor, the sick and the sinner.
We Franciscans today console ourselves with the realization that these lofty values are ideals we strive for rather than qualities we possess. As your pastor I need your support in my striving and your patience in my failing.
The Friars of the Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus are honored to have a special place in the history of Saint Mary Our Lady of Grace. We pledge our best efforts to make it a mutually beneficial relationship. If you would like to know more about our friars, history and ministry in the church you can find us on the web at www.franciscanstor.org.
In the words of Saint Francis of Assisi: May the Lord, give you peace.