Birth of the Franciscan Movement St Francis died on October 3rd - 1226. He was then aged 44. In that period, from 1209 until his death, a period of 17 years only, the person of Francis of Assisi changed the world forever.
There was "something" about his personality and his way of life that attracted not only hundreds, but also thousands of people. People from every walk of life; rich and poor; married and single; educated and peasants. The numbers of his friars grew rapidly and the women who came after Clare spread their simple and austere lifestyle beside them.
Ordinary folk, in the villages and towns around Italy also wanted to follow Francis; but they could not live an itinerant lifestyle, as they had families, spouses and commitments. With a form of life of their own, these were to become known as The Brothers and Sisters of Penance and later the Secular Franciscans.
Friars in Australia
Franciscan Friars have been involved with Australia almost since the start of its European history. When the French explorer La Perouse sailed into Botany Bay just a few weeks behind the first fleet, he had Friars on board working as chaplains and scientists. One of them, Friar Louis Le Receveur was wounded in Polynesia and died offshore near Botany Bay. His memorial gravestone is to be found today at La Perouse in Sydney, the first European grave in Australia.
First Community at Waverley NSW
In 1879 the first Franciscan community began with three Irish Friars, Peter Hanrahan, Augustine Holohan and Paschal McGinley. They worked among the poor Irish settlers in the slums around the eastern suburbs of Sydney and persevered through various hardships. On a number of occasions they came close to giving up for lack of interest from the early settlers. In 1904, the first Australians entered the Order and from that date, the Franciscan presence in Australia expanded swiftly. By 1939 the number of Friars had increased sufficiently that Australia was able to became an independent Province in its own right. Soon after, Franciscan communities were established in every state of Australia.
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