New Leader of Franciscan Missions

Tyler Curtis Franciscan World

Fr. Teofil Czarniak

Fr. Teofil Czarniak, OFM

WATERFORD, Wis. — The Franciscan Missions office has started a new chapter. Since November 2015, Fr. Teofil Czarniak, OFM, has been working as the executive director of the General Secretariat of the Franciscan Missions, Inc., in Waterford. The organization, known as Franciscan Missions, has been in existence for more than 50 years.

The mission of the organization is threefold: 1) to provide direct financial support for missions of the Order of Friars Minor throughout the world, 2) to provide financial support for the training of future missionaries, and 3) to educate the world, particularly the people of the United States, on the mission work of the Order.

Appointed by General Minister Fr. Michael Perry, OFM, Fr. Teo’s role as executive director was approved by the Franciscan Missions Board of Directors in fall 2015.

Fr. Teo’s predecessor, Fr. John Puodziunas, OFM — former provincial minister of Assumption BVM Province — served as the interim director in 2015, following the retirement of Fr. Sereno Baiardi, OFM, the previous year. Fr. John was appointed to serve as the Order’s Economo General, or treasurer, in Rome. And Fr. Sereno, who served this ministry for 45 years — from 1969 to 2014 — has returned to Genova, Italy, and the new province, Sant’Antonio dei Frati Minori, which includes the six provinces of Northern Italy as of May 16.

Ordained in 2002, Fr. Teo, born Adam Czarniak, in Andrychow, Poland, joined the Franciscan Order in 1994. In 1996, Fr. Teo celebrated his first profession with the Order. He then celebrated his solemn profession in 2000, his diaconate in 2001, and in May 2002, Fr. Teo celebrated his ordination as a Catholic priest at the Wyzsze Seminary Duchowne in Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, Poland. Upon his first profession, he took the priestly first name of Teofil which means “friend of God,” in celebration of his entrance into Franciscan life.

As executive director, Fr. Teo is responsible for the overall management of the fundraising initiatives of the Franciscan Missions, which focus on generating awareness of and financial support for the Order’s mission work in developing countries and on six continents. His experience as a missionary in Poland and, most recently, Uganda, has prepared him well for this new post.

“During my work in Uganda, I was privileged to witness not only fragility and poverty, but, most importantly, beauty of life and power of faith. This deep experience gives me strength for our daily work. Building upon a strong foundation, we look forward with hope. The staff of the Franciscan Missions is aware of being God’s tool in changing the world for the better,” said Fr. Teo.

Fr. Teofil Czarniak, OFM

Provincial Minister Fr. James Gannon blesses the newly-renovated Franciscan Missions office. (Photo courtesy of Nathan Willison)

This new chapter for Franciscan Missions is being energized by both people and facilities. The friars and staff recently hosted an open house for Franciscans in the area.  At the April 27 event, Provincial Minister Fr. James Gannon, OFM, of ABVM Province, blessed the newly-renovated office and conference space, located roughly half an hour southwest of Milwaukee.

Information about the work of the Franciscan Missions can be found on its website A Facebook page provides photos as well as items being sold for fundraising purposes.

— Tyler Curtis is director of operations for the Franciscan Missions office. She has been on staff since November 2014.

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