Membership in Order Declines Despite Growth in Some Regions

Dominic Monti, OFM Franciscan World

NEW YORK — The most recent membership figures for the Franciscan Order, published in the latest issue of the Acta Ordinis Minorum, indicate that recent trends are still continuing, with growth of the Order in certain parts of the world not keeping pace with membership losses in most countries. As of last Dec. 31, the Order numbered 15,256 members, an overall decline of 340 from 2005.

Holy Name Province, which numbered 385 members on Dec. 31, continues to be the fourth largest unit in the Order worldwide, and the largest in the United States.

Growth in Asia-Oceania & Africa-Middle East
The friars are distributed in the following geographic regions: Western Europe (5,046 friars), Latin America (3,726), Eastern Europe (2,504), North America – the USA and Canada (1,632), Asia-Oceania (1,272), and Africa-Middle East (1,076). Only the last two regions registered an overall membership gain.

Worldwide, Italy has the greatest number of friars (2,528), followed by the United States (1,460), and Brazil (1,110). Countries with the most novices are Mexico (43), Brazil (40), Italy (39), Poland (37), Indonesia (21), Peru (21) and Colombia (20). The United States had 14 novices.

The largest province is Immaculate Conception Province in Sao Paolo, Brazil (450 friars), followed by the Province of Sts. Francis and James, Jalisco, Mexico (415 friars), and St. Anthony Province, Venice, Italy (389 friars).

Other provinces in the English-Speaking Conference are Sacred Heart, St. Louis, Mo., with 263 members; St. Barbara, Oakland, Calif., 212; St. John Baptist, Cincinnati, Ohio, 188; Immaculate Conception, New York, 162; Ireland, 159; Assumption BVM, Franklin, Wis, 151; St. Joseph, Montreal, Canada, 130; Malta, 72; Our Lady of Guadalupe, Albuquerque, N.M; 67; England, 60; Lithuania, 54; Christ the King, Edmonton, Canada; 46.

— Fr. Dominic is Provincial Vicar of Holy Name Province.