Julian and Adrian Riester, OFM
1919 – 2011
Brothers Julian and Adrian Riester, OFM, were born March 27, 1919 in Buffalo, N.Y. The couple already had five daughters, so Dr. Julian Riester, who attended the Mercy Sisters in Buffalo, asked them to pray that his wife would have a son. “They must have prayed very hard,” Adrian once said. “Because God surprised them and sent two.”
The twins attended Nardin Academy, Mt. St. Joseph Academy and St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute, all in Buffalo, graduating in 1939. They then studied at the National School in Los Angeles from 1939 to 1941 to become radio technicians. While in California, they toured the colonial-era missions, and were inspired to dedicate their lives as Franciscan brothers.
They were received together as Franciscan Tertiary Brothers in 1943 in New York City. After two years of work and training, they were received into the Order at St. Bonaventure Friary, Paterson, N.J. They professed their first vows in 1946 and made their solemn profession in 1949.
The twins were sent off on separate assignments: Br. Adrian as sacristan at St. Francis of Assisi Church in New York City and Br. Julian as general manager of St. Anthony Shrine, Boston. In 1951, they were reunited, being assigned to Christ the King Seminary at St. Bonaventure University in Allegany, N.Y. They again received different assignments in 1956 — although both in their home town of Buffalo. Br. Julian served as general manager at St. Patrick’s Parish and Br. Adrian as general manager at Bishop Timon High School.
In 1965, Br. Adrian joined his brother at St. Pat’s. The twins returned together to St. Bonaventure University in 1973, where they ministered faithfully — Br. Julian as sacristan and Br. Adrian as chauffer — for the next 35 years. In 2008, they retired to St. Anthony Friary in St. Petersburg, Fla.
The brothers tremendously enjoyed being twins — from their youth, when they took delight in fooling their teachers and formation directors, even to old age, when they continued to dress alike, always purchasing identical clothing, from jackets to eyeglasses. This playfulness arose from a deeper spiritual bond — they almost always acted as a team. Accomplished artisans and gardeners, they spent hours working together.
They died on the same day, June 1, 2011, at St. Anthony’s Hospital in St. Petersburg. Br. Julian passed away about 4:30 a.m. and Br. Adrian at 9 p.m. Their remarkable story became an instant media sensation, giving the twins a fame in death that they avoided during their lives. Brothers Julian and Adrian were 92 years old, professed Franciscan friars for 65 years.