When asked by curious people, “Where are you from? … What Order do you belong to?” St. Francis and his early companions answered with simplicity, “We are penitents from Assisi.”
We are a community of Franciscan Friars, a non-profit (501c3) Roman Catholic religous institute, a Province of the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis of Penance, our Monastery is located in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, USA.
We trace our origins to these penitents of Assisi. They were members of an Order of Penance, a form of life approved by the Church many centuries before Francis. Its purpose was to invite people to do penance, that is, to turn away from sin to develop a closer union with God. The members wore a habit as a sign of their commitment. In 1207 Francis began a life of penance and wore the penitent habit. He spent two years as a penitent and was recognized by Bishop Guido of Assisi as such.
In 1221 he wrote the First Letter to the Penitents, in which he presents guidelines for the Brothers and Sisters of Penance who wished to share in his Gospel way of life.
Over the centuries both male and female Franciscan congregations of the Third Order independently of one another sprung up in many countries of Europe. In 1447 the Italian fraternities of male Franciscan penitents were united in a single Order by Pope Nicholas V. The friars located their motherhouse at the Basilica of Saints Cosmas and Damian at Rome in 1512.
Today the Third Order Regular of Penance of St. Francis is a worldwide fraternity dedicated to a life of communal living and service to the Universal Church.
The Order consists of sixteen provinces, vice provinces and delegations. We have nine hundred friars who live, pray and perform the works of mercy in fourteen countries. Countries break down into independent Provinces of which there are two in the United States. Province of the Immaculate Conception, Hollidaysburg, PA Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Loretto, PA
THE MISSION OF THE FRIARS The friars of the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis and members of the Province of the Immaculate Conception take vows that challenge us to live a life of poverty, chastity, and obedience to the Church. These vows allow us to further the work of our founder and patron, Saint Francis of Assisi, who followed the crucified and risen Savior without question or regret.
As Franciscans in service to the Church, we listen to the teachings of Jesus Christ with assurance of God the Father and the Holy Spirit; we listen to God’s teaching in the Church; and we listen to God’s holy people as they speak to us.
The Franciscan lifestyle dictates that we, as pupils of Saint Francis of Assisi, respond to God’s word by following the example of our patron: we live simply, free of possessions and attitudes; dedicated to our brotherhood by answering the mission of the Church; bringing the message of conversion to all we meet in God’s name.
We are committed as friars, on a personal and corporate level, to a life given over to prayer and contemplation; the continuous conversion of our hearts, minds and souls; the revelation of the Lord to the spiritually blind; preaching the message of reconciliation and healing embodied in Christ.
We are to work among the people and to offer them a witness of Christian life by word and example. The Friars of the Province of the Immaculate Conception in the United States are active in parishes, education, retreat work, hospital ministry, and foreign missions. The friars continue to respond to the contemporary needs of the Church by remaining faithful to their original charism of living the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in community according to the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi. They also are engaged in the corporal works of mercy and support their local diocesan churches. As penitents, the friars are especially called to witness to a message of conversion (turning to God) to those who frequently feel alienated or abandoned by God. This vision has led our men into ministries working with youth, the divorced, those suffering from HIV, the poor, the elderly, people persecuted for their race, prisoners, mentally handicapped and the un-churched. We serve the people of God as parish priests, teachers, retreat directors, health care professionals, family councilors, spiritual directors, social workers and missionaries.
THE CALL OF GOD TO “REBUILD HIS CHURCH” IS STILL HEARD BY THE FRANCISCANS IN THE T.O.R. TRADITION.