Welcome to the Franciscan Friars of Papua New Guinea
The Order was founded by St. Francis of Assisi (1181 – 1226). He was the son of a rich Italian businessman and a French mother. As young man he led a hectic and joyful social life with a burning ambition to become a great soldier. During his first battle he was captured and spent two years as a prisoner. On his return to Assisi he again renewed his romantic lifestyle and was soon off on a second attempt to win fame. Shortly after leaving Assisi he again renewed his romantic lifestyle and was soon off on a second attempt to win fame. Shortly after leaving Assisi he had a vision which questioned his life values. He returned home in disgrace and withdrew to the countryside to ponder his future. While praying in a small chapel he heard a voice calling him to “rebuild my church”. The voice came from a painting of the crucified Christ. Shortly after this Francis met a leper and, instead of turning away from him, Francis warmly embraced him. Francis came to appreciate that Christ is present in all people, especially the poor. Soon young men came to join Francis and they became known as the ‘Brothers of Penance’, little brothers to all, men of peace, with a special love of all creation. St. Francis was named the patron of the environment by the present Pope.
The Order grew very rapidly and is still one of the largest Orders in the Church. The Franciscans came to Papua New Guinea from Australia in 1946. Eventually, they were given the pastoral care of the Aitape Diocese. Now they have the local diocesan clergy and three Spiritain priests working with them. Franciscans live in communities as brothers, all equal, whether priests or brothers. All ministries are available according to the talents of the brothers and the needs of the Church. All are asked to be simple Gospel men. In Papua New Guinea Franciscans work as pastors, tradesman, teachers, chaplains, medical, mechanical and agricultural workers. At present they have communities in the Aitape Diocese in West New Britain and in Port Moresby.
At present there are 35 Franciscans Friars in Papua New Guinea. They are mainly Papua New Guineans, and some are from Australia, Poland, Italy and the Philippines. On the world scene the Franciscans are the second largest Catholic Order of men in the world after the Jesuits with about 16,000 members. The Franciscan Friars Minister General is Fr. Jose Rodriguez Carballo, a Spaniard who is in his second term as Minister General.