The Community of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal was begun in 1987 by eight Capuchin Franciscan friars under the leadership and initiative of Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel, CFR. The Friars became an Association of the Faithful in the Archdiocese of New York in 1990 and were established as a diocesan religious congregation by John Cardinal O’Connor in 1999.
From the original eight members and their first friary of St. Crispin’s in the South Bronx, the Friars of the Renewal have grown to approximately 100 men in number from more than 18 countries. Their houses have expanded to include six in the metropolitan New York area, one in Texas, a residence in New Mexico and missions in England, Ireland, and Honduras.
The Friars lives revolve around the three fundamental pillars of prayer, fraternity and apostolic service that are rooted in the Gospel and exemplified in the life of St. Francis. Following the contemplative tradition of the Capuchins, the Friars spend between four and five hours in prayer each day that includes Mass, Eucharistic Adoration and the Liturgy of the Hours, the Rosary, Lectio Divina and spiritual reading, and personal prayer. One day each week is dedicated to greater recollection and each friar takes a few days each month for prayer in solitude. Each year all the friars participate in a weeklong community retreat, as well as make a personal retreat of the same length.
We live together in common as brothers of one family, praying, sharing, working, serving and recreating together. The brothers strive for honest communication and sincere, mature fraternal support and affection, endeavoring to spur one another on to greater generosity and holiness. We do not employ any domestic help, and do all of the work of the friary ourselves: cooking, cleaning, washing clothes and maintenance. Manual labor is part of our life. Many of the brothers have developed skills and abilities in woodwork, construction and repair, mechanics, tailoring, food preparation, gardening, animal raising, and artistic expression such as music, painting, sculpture and writing that support and enhance our lives. We sincerely strive to live a simple life of poverty, austerity and penance. We accept no regular income for any of our apostolates, preferring instead to depend on Divine Providence manifested through the generosity of benefactors. As much as possible we beg rather than purchase what we need to live and serve in the apostolate.
The Friars engage in the classic two-fold Franciscan apostolate of evangelization and hand-on service of the poor. The initial apostolate of the Padre Pio Shelter for Homeless Men in the South Bronx was followed by a weekly, organized food distribution program, St. Anthony Residence, St.FrancisCenter and Youth for Christ, and eventually Casa Juan Diego for Latino immigrants in Yonkers, NY as well as other smaller, less formal efforts. To the first organized preaching apostolate of monthly parish missions have been added almost weekly YOUTH 2OOO retreats in New York, throughout the United States and around the world, days of recollection and men’s days of prayer, conferences, gatherings and pilgrimages of every sort and in various settings and locations. From the earliest days the Friars have maintained a committed Pro Life apostolate that has included sidewalk counseling and rescues at abortion facilities, marches and other public demonstrations on behalf of human life, and days of healing for those suffering from the effects of abortion. The Friars work with lay groups of associates and Third Order members and engage in an extensive apostolate of spiritual direction and Confession.
In the Jubilee Year 2000 the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal established mission houses in England and Honduras. Later a residence was opened in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In 2007 friaries were opened in Fort Worth, Texas and Limerick, Ireland. In each of these locations the Friars live the same life of prayer and fraternity, and have developed similar apostolates suited to the specific needs of the context in which they live.
Franciscan Friars of the Renewal