Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate
|Motto||Ave Maria (English: Hail Mary)|
|Formation||August 2, 1970|
|Type||Clerical Religious Congregation of Pontifical Right (for Men)|
Piano della Croce, 6
Frigento (AV), Italy
|344 members (149 priests) (2014)|
|Fr. Sabino Ardito, S.D.B.|
The Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate (Latin: Congregatio Fratrum Franciscanorum Immaculatae; F.F.I.) is a Roman Catholic institute of consecrated life with Pontifical Right established by Pope John Paul II on 1 January 1998. The F.F.I. was founded by two Franciscan Conventual priests on 2 August 1970 and is a reformed Franciscan Conventual religious institute living the Regula Bullata of Saint Francis of Assisi according to the Traccia Mariana.
The F.F.I. is the male branch of the Franciscan Family of the Immaculate. The female branch is the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate; the third branch of the family is the Franciscan Tertiaries of the Immaculate, which is composed mainly of lay people. An offshoot of the Tertiaries is the Third Order Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate.
The founders of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate and the other branches of this Franciscan family are Fr. Stefano Maria Manelli and Fr. Gabriel Maria Pellettieri. Both are originally from the Conventuals of the First Order of Franciscans. Fr. Pellettieri was one of the first four original Conventual friars sent by the Minister General of the Conventuals to start the mission in the Philippines. The F.F.I. started on 2 August 1970 at the Casa Mariana, Mary Most Holy of Good Counsel at Frigento in the province of Avellino, Italy.
The Creation of the Institute
On 23 June 1990, the Archbishop of Benevento, Carlo Minchiatti, with the express permission of Pope John Paul II, erected as the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate the approximately thirty Franciscan friars who lived at Casa Mariana as a religious institute of diocesan right. On 1 August 1993, the ordinary of Monte Cassino erected the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate, a religious institute of women, also living the Regula Bullata according to the Traccia.
On 1 January 1998, Pope John Paul II elevated the F.F.I. to an Institute of Religious Life with Pontifical Right, while the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate was elevated to a Pontifical Right on 9 November 1998.
Today, the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate are composed of about 300 professed members each. The F.F.I. is present today on most continents of the world with friaries in Argentina, Austria, Benin, Brazil, Cameroon, France, Italy, Portugal, Nigeria, the Philippines, and the United States.
The Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate is an Institute of consecrated life and of the Pontifical right. It is a religious community who follow the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) after the recent example of St. Maximilian Kolbe (1894-1941), martyr of charity in Auschwitz concentration camp. Their habits are gray-blue, and they wear the Miraculous Medal. Like other religious communities, they profess the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience. Members take a fourth “Marian” vow, whereby they consecrate themselves to the Mother of God.
The Traccia Mariana
The Traccia Mariana is the way of life that the F.F.I. lives, a Marian plan for Franciscan life. The Traccia Mariana was submitted by Fr. Manelli and approved by the Minister General of the Franciscan Conventuals in the summer of 1970. It was first lived in the Casa Mariana in Frigento, Avellino, Italy. The entire Traccia Mariana formation program has been established in the Franciscan Conventual Province of Naples and the mission in the Philippines, which was then under the custody of the Province of Naples.
In the United States the friars run a retreat center, Mount Saint Francis Hermitage in Maine, New York.
Following complaints by some senior friars to the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, Pope Benedict XVI authorized an inquiry into some of the practices of the institute. The Commission was recommended by Cardinal João Braz de Aviz who was appointed to the Congregation by Pope Benedict. Among some of the concerns expressed by the friars, journalist Alessandro Speciale quotes Father Alfonso Maria Bruno F.F.I. as saying that some of the sisters had become accustomed to using the Extraordinary Form exclusively and that their decision had then been “exploited” by traditionalist groups.
In July 2013 the Vatican named Franciscan Capuchin, Rev. Fidenzio Volpi, former head of the Italian conference of religious superiors, as a special commissioner to oversee the order with a mandate to quell disagreements that had erupted over the liturgy, and improve unity within its ranks." The friars’ seminary was closed so that the seminarists would study in the pontifical theology faculties of Rome. Father Volpi died in June 2015 and Salesian canonist Father Sabino Ardito was then appointed.
Fr. Bruno and Fr. Angelo M. Geiger stated in July 2013 that the vast majority of members welcomed the intervention by the Holy See in the present complicated situation. However, a poll of the friars had been conducted before assigning a commissioner, and in September 2013 Fr. Bruno released a portion of the results on the F.F.I. website with the permission of the Congregation for Religious. This showed that the majority responding thought that if there were problems, the Institute could resolve them itself: only a minority wanted a commissioner. In January 2014, the Congregation for Religious told journalists that 21 friars (out of about 350) had asked for a commissioner.
In comparison to many other orders, the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate have quite a developed media presence on the internet. In particular, the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate in the United States developed AirMaria.com in 2006 which features regular videos, typically of sermons and these are also mirrored on YouTube (their channel has over 30,000 subscribers). According to the Friars, this focus continues in the tradition of St. Maximilian Kolbe in using the most modern means of communication for the preaching of the Catholic faith. Similarly, the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate at Gosport, England have developed Radio Immaculata, a free internet radio station with an online application available for download from Google Play and the App Store (iOS).
- "Religious Life, Friars". Religious Life. Franciscans of the Immaculate. 2009. Retrieved December 28, 2010.
- "The Traccia Mariana: A Marian Plan for Franciscan Life". EWTN. Retrieved December 28, 2010.
- Acosta, John Vianney M., O.F.M.Conv. (2007). "The Beginning of the Order in the Philippines". Our History. Conventual Franciscans, Philippines. Archived from the original on November 23, 2015. Retrieved December 28, 2010.
- "Who are we?". Francescani dell'Immacolata (Casa Mariana). Retrieved December 28, 2010.
- "Franciscans of the Immaculate in the United States". Franciscans of the Immaculate. Retrieved December 28, 2010.
- F.F.I.- Australia
- Mount Saint Francis Hermitage, Maine, NY
- Miller, Michael J., "The Vatican and the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate", The Catholic World Report, July 31, 2013
- Winfield, Nicole. "Pope’s crackdown on order alarms traditionalists", Crux/Boston Globe, December 15, 2013
- Magistero, Sandro. "The not-so-immaculate Curia. They don't even get arithmetic".
- "Franciscan Friars". YouTube. Retrieved 2 April 2019.
- "AirMaria.com". Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate - USA. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
- "Online radio from the Friars at Gosport". Latin Mass Society Chairman. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
- "About". Radio Immaculata. Retrieved 6 April 2018.