[Francis] suddenly rose up to give praise, as if his only glory was this: hearing good things about the brothers. He burst out from the depths of his heart: "I give you thanks Lord, Sanctifier and Guide of the poor, you who have gladdened me with this report about the brothers! Bless those brothers, I beg you, with a most generous blessing, and sanctify with a special gift all those who make their profession fragrant through good example!"
The Remembrance of the Desire of a Soul, Thomas of Celano
We are thrilled to announce that the Society of St. Francis will once again have a presence on the East coast! Thanks to a generous offer from the Episcopal Church of St. Mary the Virgin, situated just off of Times Square in midtown Manhattan, two of our Brothers will be taking up residence and beginning active ministry once more in New York.
St. Mary the Virgin (fondly known as "Smokey Mary's" for their generous use of incense in liturgy) was founded in 1868, and has had its doors open (literally) every day since 1870 to welcome guests for rest and worship. About 500 visitors come to St. Mary's every day: some are tourists interested in the architectural beauty of the building, many are people seeking a place of quiet and worship in the midst of the bustle of Manhattan, others are vulnerable neighbors with no place to rest or shelter from the weather during the day. All are welcome. St. Mary's also maintains an active ministry to the unsheltered and other vulnerable neighbors in the Times Square area. They have a monthly "drop-in" day with a well-stocked store of clothing, hygiene items and other necessities, available free to those who need them. Between drop-ins, church staff provide individual items as needed.
Attached to the main church is the five story Mission House, which has housed vowed religious Sisters, and occasionally Brothers, through much of the Church's history. Since 2007, Sisters of the Community of St. John the Baptist (whose main house is in Mendham, NJ) have ministered from this place. They will be returning to the main house, and they were kind enough to suggest that we might take their place. We formally accepted the invitation to enter into ministry there at our annual Chapter in May 2018. We hope to take up residence in fall of 2018.
Our Brothers will join in the existing ministries of the Parish, as well as other opportunities in the city. We will be involved in ministry to the parish's many daily guests, in provision of clothing and other necessities to neighbors in need, pastoral care for parishioners, and various other roles and tasks in the church.
SSF's longest-standing house was Little Portion Friary in Port Jefferson, NY, and we maintained St. Elizabeth's House in Brooklyn for some years. Having been absent from the East coast since 2015, we couldn't be happier to be coming back. We look forward to renewing old associations and making many new ones. Deo Gratias.