Case Statements, and How You Can Help
In early 2015, seven young Franciscan men, guided by the Holy Spirit, traveled from Pennsylvania to the Arizona desert. They were welcomed by Bishop Thomas Olmsted, and spent one year in prayer and discernment, serving the Native People on the Gila River Indian Reservation. On June 29, 2016, the new order of the Franciscan Friars of the Holy Spirit was established as a Cleric Public Association of the Faithful. The Friars were called to evangelize anew as Franciscan missionaries.
In the short time since their arrival, the Friars have made a rapid and positive impact across the Diocese of Phoenix. They have re-energized the 11 Native parishes that are their responsibility, including forming new youth ministries, have founded the Catholic Newman Center and Parish at Grand Canyon University, have held Mercy Nights and Healing Masses across the Diocese, and offered retreats in Arizona and around the country.
Very significantly, in just three years, they will have more than doubled the number of Friars to a total of 12 men. This summer will see 8 young men in various stages of faith formation, from postulants, to novices, to seminarians, including several in studies at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit.
At present, three of the Friars’ major initiatives include fundraising for the planned expansion of the Newman Center at GCU, funding for increased seminary expenses, as well as the completion of a feasibility study for a Native high school on the reservation.
Here is a short summary of each of the Friars’ four major ministries, and where we need ﬁnancial assistance:
- Native American Ministry. The Native parishes that the Friars serve are spread across nearly 500 square miles, with ministries ranging from offering all the Sacraments, expanding youth groups, suicide and abuse prevention, and religious education. The parish facilities have been in decline for many years, and are in need of signiﬁcant capital repairs. Additionally, because of the size of the reservation, the Friars maintain a ﬂeet of vehicles, and insurance and fuel expenses are sizable. If the Native high school is approved, then there will be large capital expense and operating costs.
- The Catholic Newman Center at Grand Canyon University. Bishop Olmsted has a directive to increase the ministry presence at universities in the Valley and in Flagstaff. The Friars have responsibility for establishing and expanding the Newman Center at GCU. To date, the Friars purchased and rehabbed a ranch house across the street from campus, and with a chapel and altar, the Newman Center is also a parish of the Diocese. The next phases include moving to a larger plot of land, followed by building a modern, full-sized Newman Center, to include a church, hall, classrooms, and student resource center. Signiﬁcant capital will need to be raised to complete these steps.
- Formation: Growing the Order. One of the Friars’ strategic missions is to increase the size of their Order. At present, they do not have enough men to address their full suite of responsibilities, and they anticipate that their ministry will continue to grow in the future. The task of forming men is expensive, with annual seminary costs alone at nearly $40,000 per man. The Friars’ ministry and charism are appealing to many men, so the limiting factor in expanding their Order remains ﬁnancial. There are several programs with which to help, including “Adopt-A-Friar,” and participation in the strategic “Kathy Nemmers Faith Formation Fund,” an endowment that provides annual funding.
- Evangelization. The evangelical mission of the Friars is local, national, and global. Their work includes Mercy Nights, Healing Masses, and an annual New Year’s Retreat, at parishes through the Diocese of Phoenix. Nationwide ministry includes FOCUS Missionary retreats, and so far, parish missions in Texas, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Idaho. The Friars’ are convening a community retreat in Ireland, with more international missions planned in the future. The Friars need assistance with travel and lodging expenses, as well as retreat costs.