Tag Archives: Franciscan

Franciscans by the 2015 numbers

St Francis FZurbaranI’m always curious to where the various religious orders are in terms of ministry and the manpower. What can we extrapolate from the numbers and how is the charism lived? Next to the Society of Jesus the Order of Friars Minor are the most significant orders Mother Church has to preach the Gospel and to administer sacraments.

Prescinding what may be several institutional issues like faithfulness to the charism, orthodox teaching, authentic and holy life according to the mind of the founder, and the like, Franciscan friars have taken up the call to serve the Divine Master since the 13th century. The matter becomes: what difference does Jesus and the Church make in the lives of the friars? In the laity who follow the Saint Francis?

Franciscan Friar Father Dominic, a Franciscan historian stationed at St. Bonaventure University in Western New York, presented these facts:

The Order began the year 2015 with a membership of 13,632 friars. This is 113 friars fewer than the previous year, as the growth of the Order in the younger entities cannot yet compensate for the losses in Western Europe and North America. There are 11,794 solemnly professed friars, including 9,243 priests, 59 permanent deacons, 416 friars preparing for ordination, and 1957 lay friars. There was a slight increase of friars in initial formation — 1413 temporary professed and 425 novices. In terms of age, 34% of the world’s friars are under the age of 45, 29% between the ages of 45-64, and 37% over the age of 65.

A closer look at the Order’s six regions shows considerable divergence: four registered growth from the preceding year, whereas two — dominated by elderly friars — posted declines. These were Western Europe, with 3,999 friars, which was down 125 friars from the preceding year, and North America (the U.S. and Canada), with 1,273 friars, which was down 50. On the other hand, the other four regions of the Order showed growth: Latin America, with 3,334 friars, was up 20 friars; Africa, with 1,161 friars (up 30); Asia, with 1423 friars (up 5), and Eastern Europe, with 2442 friars (up 15). To illustrate the age difference among these entities: in the English-speaking Conference, for every friar under the age of 45, there are seven friars over 65. In Africa, on the other hand, the friars under the age of 45 outnumber the seniors 3 to 1.

Holy Name Province has now slipped to the eighth largest of the Order’s 125 entities. Just two years ago, it was fifth largest. The Province of Sts. Francis and James (Jalisco, Mexico) continues to be in first place with 472 friars (120 of whom are in initial formation) The Immaculate Conception Province (São Paolo, Brazil) follows, with 379 members (40 in formation). The third largest entity is now the Immaculate Conception Province (Krakow, Poland), with 338 friars, followed closely by the Province of the Holy Cross (Sarajevo, Bosnia) with 336 members. The German province (Munich) is fifth (322), and the Province of St. Anthony (Venice, Italy), is sixth (309). Slightly ahead of Holy Name (304 friars) is now the Assumption Province (Katowice, Poland) with 307 friars.

In terms of individual nations where the Order is present, Italy still has by far the greatest number of friars (2,038), followed by the United States (1,145), Poland (1,006), Mexico (990), and Brazil (950). It is interesting to note that these five countries comprise almost half the Franciscan friars in the world.

Holy Name, with 304 friars, continues to be the largest entity in the Order’s English-speaking Conference. The other provinces of the ESC are Sacred Heart, based in St. Louis, with 207 members; the Irish Province (which now includes Great Britain), 179; St. Barbara (based in Oakland, Calif.), 168; St. John the Baptist (Cincinnati), 147; Immaculate Conception (New York), 121; Assumption BVM (Franklin, Wis.), 111; St. Joseph (Montreal, Quebec), 68; Our Lady of Guadalupe (Albuquerque, N.M.), 57; Malta, 56; Lithuania, 42; and Christ the King (Edmonton, Alberta), with 33.

First woman named Rector of a Roman School

Sr Mary MeloneSister Mary Melone, a  Franciscan Sisters of Blessed Angelina, born in 1964, is the next Rector of the Faculty of Theology of the Pontifical University Antonianum. The venerable Antonianum is run by the Order of Friars Minor.

In recent history of this Roman pontifical university, Sister Melone is the first woman to be appointed a dean, and now the first woman to become a rector of a pontifical university in Rome. Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education appointed Melone to a term lasting from 2014-2017. She is an expert on St. Anthony of Padua, and other points in Franciscan theology.

May Saint Anthony of Padua intercede for Sister Mary Melone’s intentions.


When Sr. Melone was elected the dean of the Antonianum she gave an interview to L’Osservatore Romano where she said: 

The approach of a woman: “I don’t give much importance to these kinds of labels, female theology. Above all, I don’t like comparisons although I recognize that in the past there may have been a reason for making comparisons. Maybe there is one today as well, I don’t know. More space definitely needs to be given to women. The reference to female theology does not really fit with my vision of things: all that exists is theology. Theology as research, as a focus on mystery, as a reflection on this mystery. But precisely because this requires different sensitivities. A woman’s approach to mystery, the way in which she reflects on this mystery which offers itself and reveals itself, is certainly different from that of a man. But they do not contrast.  I believe in theology and I believe that theology created by a woman is typical of a woman. It is different but without the element of laying claim to it. Otherwise it almost seems as though I am manipulating theology, when it is instead a field that requires honesty from the person who places him/herself before the mystery.”

More on women:  “a reflection on this cannot be commensurate to the Church’s age as this reflects a development of thought that has gone on for hundreds of years. However, in my opinion a new space does exist and it is real. I also think it is irreversible, meaning that it is not a concession but a sign of the times from which there is no return. It is no pretense. I believe this depends a great deal on us women too. It is us who should get the ball rolling. Women cannot measure how much space they have in the Church in comparison to men: we have a space of our own, which is neither smaller nor greater than the space men occupy. It is our space. Thinking that we have to achieve what men have, will not get us anywhere. Of course, although the steps we take may be real, this does not mean the job is complete. A great deal more can be done but there is change, you can see it, feel it. I think that (my case aside) the election of a woman in a pontifical university is also proof this. The body who elected me was made up entirely of men!”

The Church does NOT need gender quotas?  “No, it doesn’t need quotas, it needs collaboration. And collaboration needs to grow!”

Secular Franciscans of Bethlehem at 125

Franciscan crossed armsThe Secular Franciscan Order of Bethlehem are celebrating 125 years. Laity, according to their own context and vocation, are living the gospel and bringing the gospel message to the world. The SFO are living witnesses in imitation of Saint Francis of Assisi. The SFO provides personal formation to its members, education to youth, are present to the needs of the local church and assist in the Church Universal in a myriad of good works.

Living in Bethlehem brings a unique due to the fact it’s the place where the Lord lived, died, rose from the dead and ascended to God the Father.

The Franciscan Media Center carried the story here.

The vocation to follow in the steps of Saint Francis of Assisi and the blessers and saints of the Order is available around the world. You can check locally to see about the presence of SFO. Each fraternity is unique and one may not have the same vigor as another. Following the Lord in this way is a rewarding way to know, love and serve Jesus.

José Rodríguez Carballo, OFM, is NEW Secretary of the Congregation for Religious


The Pope’s first appointment to his curia was made today when he named the Minister General of the Friars Minor, Father José Rodríguez Carballo, OFM, Secretary of the Congregation for Religious (official name: Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life). Carballo will assist the Brazilian cardinal João Bráz de Aviz.

Father José Rodríguez Carballo was born in 1953, professed temporary vows as a Franciscan in 1971 and ordained a priest in 1977.

According to the 1988 Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus, the Congregation for Consecrated life –first formed in 1586– is “to promote and supervise in the whole Latin Church the practice of the evangelical counsels as they are lived in the approved forms of consecrated life and, at the same time, the work of societies of apostolic life” (105)

The Archbishop-elect is a Spanish Franciscan who has served the Friars Minor in a variety of capacities.

In 2003, Father José Rodríguez Carballo was elected the 119th successor of Saint Francis of Assisi when he was elected Minister General of the Friars Minor. In 2009, he was elected to the same work.

Friar José was trained in Scripture studies. He was appointed to the Synod of Bishops in 2005, 2008 and 2012. He’s been a member of the Congregations of Evangelization of Peoples and the one he’s the Secretary to.

Carballo succeeds in the office the American Redemptorist Archbishop Joseph Tobin who is now the archbishop of Indianapolis. The Vatican Insider has an article on the appointment of Carballo that gives some stats.

Popes who belonged to religious orders

Pope Gregory XVI made gambling on papal electi...

Pope Gregory XVI, a Benedictine monk, made gambling on papal elections punishable by excommunication.

When Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected the 266th Roman Pontiff he was listed among a rather small and elite group of men who had their intellectual and spiritual formation in religious life. Bergoglio is a member of the Society of Jesus. But who are the others?

The Benedictine monks have 17
Gregory I, Boniface IV, Adeodatus II, Leo IV, John IX, Leo VII, Stephen IX, Gregory VII, Victor, III, Urban II, Paschal II, Gelasius, II, Celestine V, Clement VI, Urban V, Pius VII, Gregory XVI
The Augustine canons and friars have 6
Honorius II, Innocent II, Lucius II, Adrian IV, Gregory VIII, Eugene IV
The Franciscans friars have 4
Nicholas IV, Sixtus IV, Sixtus V, Clement XIV
Secular Franciscans have 2
Pius IX, Leo XIII
The Dominicans friars have 4
Innocent V, Benedict XI, Pius V, Benedict XIII
The Cistercian monks have 2
Eugene III, Benedict XII
The Theatine clerks regular have 
Paul IV
The Jesuit clerks regular have 1
Enhanced by Zemanta

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
coat of arms



Humanities Blog Directory