Franciscans of primitive observance

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The Franciscans of Primitive Observance, or "FPOs" as they are commonly called, are a Roman Catholic group that lives a strict observance of the Rule of St. Francis. They are based in Boston, Massachusetts and are erected as a Lay Association of the Faithful under the Cardinal Archbishop of Boston.


The Franciscans of Primitive Observance were founded by six members of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal who were seeking a more strict observance of the life and rule of St. Francis. These six friars reached out to then Bishop Séan O'Malley of the Diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts, himself a Capuchin Franciscan. O'Malley agreed to host the new group, and assisted them in writing their rule and constitutions.


The FPOs opened a friary in New Bedford, MA initially, consisting of the original six friars. Subsequent houses were opened in Beford, VT; Emmitsburg, MD; and Nicaragua, Central America.

With the ascension of O'Malley to the archbishopric of Boston, the FPOs requested to be incardinated in the Archdiocese and opened a friary in Lawrence. The friary in New Bedford was closed at this time.

The membership of the friars has fluctuated over time, peaking at about fifteen brothers including novices and postulants.

Form of Life[edit]

The Franciscans of Primitive Observance live a strict observance of the Rule of St. Francis. They do not carry money, and rely on the donations of individuals to pay for their needs. In their houses they do not utilize modern appliances (televisions, radios, refrigerators, washing machines) whenever possible. FPO brothers called "questors" seek food door-to-door in the neighborhoods in which they live.

The FPOs live a mixed contemplative and active life, spending considerable time in prayer each day in the chapel, as well as time in the community.

The FPOs do not wish that details of their penitential life be widely known, living by the Lord's admonition to "pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly" (Matthew 6:6).


The FPO live a strict form of life, and are very dedicated to defending their Catholic faith, and so have experienced some friction as a result.