History of the friars in the U.S.

History of the friars in the U.S.


Friars from Austria began the Province of St. John the Baptist in Cincinnati.

The first friars arrived in Florida in 1573 with the Spanish colonizers and ministered primarily to the Native Americans who were already living there. A chain of missions was set up along the Atlantic Ocean up to Georgia. By 1650, 70 friars were working in 40 missions in Florida and Georgia until the British forced the Spanish and the friars out of these areas in 1702.

In 1598, friars came from Mexico to New Mexico, and by 1640, there were 50 of them serving in 25 missions (one being Santa Fe, which is now the state’s capital).

In the early 1700s, friars came from Mexico to serve in Texas. San Antonio was founded in 1716. By 1787, there were 28 missions throughout Texas, including the Alamo.

In 1768, Franciscan friars took over the Jesuit missions in Arizona. St. Junipero Serra and his fellow friars came from Mexico to California and set up the first of 21 missions in San Diego in 1769. The names of most of these missions still exist and are familiar to us today: San Diego, San Luis Rey, San Juan Capistrano, San Gabriel, San Fernando, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, San Jose, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. When Mexico became independent from Spain in 1821, the Franciscan missionary friars were expelled from New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, and California. The missions were secularized.

The second presence of Franciscans in the US was the result of the tidal wave of Catholic immigrants who came to our country from Europe from 1840 to 1920. Friars came from Europe to serve them.

• Our Province of St. John the Baptist (SJB) (Cincinnati, Ohio) began when friars arrived in 1844 from St. Leopold Province (Innsbruck, Austria) as missionaries to minister to the German-speaking immigrants.

• Immaculate Conception Province (New York, N.Y.) began in 1855 when friars from several Italian provinces arrived in Buffalo to work with Italian immigrants.

• Sacred Heart Province (St. Louis, Mo.) originated in 1858 when friars from Saxony in Germany arrived to minister to German-speaking immigrants.

• Holy Name Province (New York, N.Y.) can be traced back to 1876 when friars from Thuringia, Germany, came to Patterson, New Jersey.

• Assumption Province (Franklin, Wis.) began in 1887 when friars came from Poland to serve Polish-speaking immigrants in Wisconsin.

• St. Barbara Province (Oakland, Calif.) is a daughter province of Sacred Heart Province founded in 1915 to serve the Catholic people on the West Coast.

• Our Lady of Guadalupe Province (Albuquerque, N.M.) is a daughter province of SJB Province. In 1898, friars from the Cincinnati province went to the Southwest to minister to the Navajo people. Approximately 100 friars working in the Southwest formed a new province in 1985.

• Most Holy Savior Vice Province (Pittsburgh, Pa.) began in 1926 when friars came from Slovakia to work with the Slovakian immigrants. In 2000, the friars of that vice province joined with SJB Province.

Posted in: Missions