The Friars of Saint Francis are a small “reform” community of Franciscans.
In an age when many Religious communities are dying out, when many have given up the Religious habit and live secular lives, and sometimes much more comfortable than the average lay person, when scandals have rocked the Church and harmed the faith of many, Father Christopher, who used to be a Capuchin Franciscan Friar, felt called to go out into the deep and strive to live a more faithful and prayerful Religious Life, embracing the Evangelical Counsels more firmly. After meeting with the Minister General in Rome, and consulting with the Apostolic Nuncio of the time, some Bishops, as well as good priests (including Fr Benedict Groeschel CFR in New York), he received permission and the blessing of the Church to begin the little reform.
The Friars of St Francis live a prayerful life, praying the Divine Office five times a day, as well as the Rosary and (of course!) daily Mass. They spend time each day in meditation and spiritual reading as well. The friars wear the habit. It is not “overalls” for the friars or something to put on for Religious occasions. It is their clothing. It helps them to live holy Poverty and to give witness to Christ and His Holy Gospel wherever they go. It is the daily reminder of Christ’s call to take up the cross every day.
Bishop Kevin M. Manning DD first established the Friars canonically and they care for the parish of St Bernadette’s in Dundas Valley, which is north east of Parramatta.
Some years ago, Father Christopher composed a Novena in Honour of St Francis, as he wanted the prayers that St Francis wrote to be accessible. Out of this grew the public celebration of the Novena at St Bernadette’s each year. This consists of nine nights with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, Compline (Night Prayer of the Church) and Benediction, as well as an exposition of the Life of St Francis. Confessions are also available. This has grown in popularity over the years with many faithfully attending each night.
St Francis of Assisi has a “popular” image that is far from the profound truth of this great saint. He was thoroughly Catholic in all things and had an extraordinary devotion to the Blessed Eucharist. He modelled his life on the Incarnation, the Passion and Death of our Saviour and the Most Blessed Eucharist. He put the Gospel into practice and called his friars to go everywhere in obedience to Christ our Lord and proclaim the Holy Gospel. He encouraged the friars to do this first of all by the lives they led, and if necessary to also use words.
The Friars of St Francis welcome any young men interested in living a genuine Franciscan life. It is a life of fraternity, prayer and service. It is a life of discipleship to Christ Our Saviour.