In 1209, St. Francis of Assisi received formal approval from Pope Innocent III for his new way of life. St. Francis wanted his followers to imitate the humility of Christ and to minister to the least in society.
By 1517, the Franciscan Order was divided into autonomous branches, each professing a valid perspective of their observance of his Rule. The "Conventual" followers of St. Francis chose to minister in the heart of the cities rather than in more remote hermitages. Conventual Franciscans emphasize fidelity to the Catholic Church, the Holy Father, devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, and stress the importance of fostering strong fraternal communities.
In the USA, the Order is divided into four provinces based broadly on geographical region. The Our Lady of the Angels province is located along the East Coast. The Saint Bonaventure province is based in the Midwest, the Our Lady of Consolation province operates in both the Midwest and Southwest. Finally, the Saint Joseph of Cupertino province is based in California. Great Britain & Ireland is currently a Provincial Custody of the Our Lady of the Angels province, and Australia is currently a Provincial Delegation of the Saint Bonaventure province. All the aforementioned provinces, along with the friars in Australia, send their novices to the interprovincial novitiate in Arroyo Grande, California.
To learn more about the locations and ministries of the provinces, click on the links. For a list of vocation directors click here.