Friars depart Sullivan County
CALLICOON, NY — After serving Sullivan County churches for 122 years, the Franciscan Friars of Holy Name Province (HNP) will finish the process of pulling out of Sullivan County by the end of July.
Citing declining numbers of friars in HNP, officials announced on May 22 they are “returning all ministerial responsibilities and administrative operations of Holy Cross Parish in Callicoon to the Archdiocese of New York.”
Previously, HNP has pulled friars out of churches in St. Francis Xavier in Narrowsburg, St. Mary in Obernburg, St. Anthony in Yulan and the mission of St. George-St. Francis in Jeffersonville.
HNP said that in 1965 there were “more than 1,000 friars in active ministry.” But those numbers have fallen to a current number of 280, and many of those are over 65 years old.
Father Kevin Mullen, provincial minister—or religious superior—of HNP, said, “In the midst of declining numbers, we must preserve our Franciscan charisma. Our fraternal life is central to our vocation, that is, living with other friars in community and serving together as brothers. We must not allow our diminishing numbers to spread us so thin that friars are living alone. Given these considerations, we need to return the pastoral care of Holy Cross Parish to the Archdiocese of New York.”
A press release from HNP said, “The rich tradition of the Franciscan friars working in Sullivan County began in the late 1800s when then-New York Bishop Michael Corrigan asked them to minister to the area not far from northern New Jersey, where German Franciscans had settled in 1876. The Franciscans arrived at St. Mary in Obernburg in 1892.
“They began serving at Holy Cross Parish in 1895, and six years later, in 1901—the same year that Holy Name Province was founded—the Franciscan friars dramatically increased what would become more than a 125-year presence in Callicoon and Sullivan County by establishing St. Joseph Seraphic Seminary.”
About Holy Name Province
Holy Name Province is one of seven provinces in the United States that belong to the Order of Friars Minor. It is the largest U.S. province, with ministries in 12 states along the East Coast. Its Catholic priests and brothers serve in colleges, parishes, urban ministry centers and a wide variety of social ministries, as well as in missions in Africa, Asia and South America.
The order, founded in 1209 by St. Francis of Assisi, commemorated its 800th anniversary in 2009. Today, St. Francis, whose feast day is October 4, remains one of the most widely-known saints—is revered for his dedication to peace and care for creation.
Information about Holy Name Province can be found on www.hnp.org . News about the friars and their ministries can be found on the Facebook page of the Franciscan Friars of Holy Name Province.