Profile of the Order Today

Dominic Monti In the Headlines

The membership data for the Order, as of Dec. 31, 2005, has been published. This shows that the Order as a whole is continuing to lose membership. Dramatic gains in many parts of the world – especially in Africa and some countries in Asia and Latin America – do not balance out the steady loss of the aging membership in Western Europe and North America. OFMs worldwide now number 15,596 friars. (This number comprises solemnly professed friars, simply professed friars and novices; postulants and other candidates are not yet members of the Order.) Western Europe still has the largest number of friars (5,209), with Latin America second (3,830), and Eastern Europe third (2,550). After that, comes the USA and Canada (1,678 friars), Asia and Oceania (1,261), and Africa and the Middle East (1,068). 

A comparison of the membership statistics of the four largest provinces in the Order indicates the very different patterns of growth in the Order today. Holy Name Province is now the fourth largest province in the Order (we numbered 398 friars as of December 31, 25 of whom are in initial formation). By contrast, the largest province is now the Immaculate Conception Province of Sao Paolo, Brazil, with 476 friars (of which 108 are in formation – simply professed and novices), followed by the Sts. Francis and James Province of Jalisco, Mexico, which has 425 friars (90 of whom are in formation). The third largest is the St. Anthony Province of Venice, Italy, which is very similar to us (400 members, with 19 in formation).

In terms of the English-speaking Conference, Holy Name Province with 398 friars continues to be the largest. Other provinces are: Sacred Heart (St.Louis/Chicago) 272; St. Barbara (Oakland) 208; St. John the Baptist (Cincinnati) 193; St. Patrick (Ireland) 163; Immaculate Conception (New York) 162; Assumption (Wisconsin) 156; St. Joseph (Montreal) 133; Guadalupe (Albuquerque) 69; Immaculate Conception (England/Scotland) 63; and Christ the King (Western Canada) 43. We also have the most friars in initial formation (25), followed by Immaculate Conception (New York) with 10, and then St. Barbara and Guadalupe (9 each). 

Fuller statistics are available in the online text of the Acta Ordinis Minorum, which can be viewed by using the link below.