Only eight years after Francis’ band of Lesser Brothers received Papal approval, their rapid growth led them to form regional units or provinces in 1217. Today, the Order of Friars Minor comprises more than 100 provinces, generally defined by political or linguistic boundaries.
Although all Franciscans form one great brotherhood, a friar’s primary “home” is his province. It forms a network of brothers who share his Gospel ideals, grouped in local fraternities (friaries) that provide him a base of common prayer and personal belonging, as well as a variety of ministries through which he brings the Gospel to the world. The friars of each province meet every three years in chapter to set priorities for their life together and elect leaders.
Holy Name Province traces its roots to Franciscan missionaries who arrived in the Eastern United States in the mid 1800s to minister to a flood of European immigrants. Fr. Pamfilo da Magliano, OFM, with three other Italian friars came to Western New York in 1855, soon founding St. Bonaventure College. Twenty years later, friars from Germany, led by Fr. Francis Koch, OFM, fleeing persecution in their native land, settled in Paterson, N.J. In 1901, these early foundations were regrouped and Holy Name Province was established.
More than a century later, we are now the largest of the seven OFM provinces in the United States. Based in New York City, we have friaries in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida. Individual friars also serve in various other U.S. locations and as missionaries in South America and Asia, mostly working with other Franciscan entities.
With more than 300 friars, the Province typifies the American melting-pot, with men from a wide spectrum of backgrounds: Irish, African-American, Filipino, Mexican, Italian, Vietnamese, Polish, Central American, German, Cuban, Canadian, Haitian, Hungarian and Colombian.
Members of Holy Name Province can be found in anything from the traditional brown habit to business casual attire to work clothes. They live in cities, suburbs and rural areas. Their backgrounds are diverse and their ministries are varied; most serve in pastoral roles, while others work in education, social ministry, administration and manual trades.
Holy Name Province friars live in local fraternities, or friaries, stretching from New England to Florida. Most friaries are connected with a ministry such as a parish or school. Some friars live singly due to the nature or location of their ministries (i.e. education, healthcare and chaplain work), but gather periodically with other friars.
Holy Name Province has long been characterized by the wide diversity of its ministries and a talent for innovative service. Today we continue the mission of Francis to make the Gospel message alive in our contemporary world.
As our mission statement expresses: “Holy Name Province is an evangelical and missionary fraternity called to minister in the Eastern United States and abroad. Rooted in the Catholic and Franciscan tradition, we are disciples of Christ who seek to bring the Gospel into the everyday experience of all people through Franciscan witness, popular preaching, teaching, and pastoral leadership. We foster Christian discipleship by collaborating with those whom we serve and by standing in solidarity with all people, especially the alienated, the immigrant, and the poor.”