Western New York SFO Fraternity Commemorates 150th Anniversary

HNP Communications Around the Province

ALLEGANY, N.Y. — The St. Bonaventure Secular Franciscan Order fraternity commemorated its 150th anniversary last week with a Mass and reception at St. Bonaventure Church here. 

Richard Husted, OFM, pastor, presided at the Mass, and Christopher Coccia, OFM, moderator for the fraternity, was the homilist. A member of the fraternity made his professon that morning, Richard said. 

Parishioners and SFO members gathered after the 11 a.m. Mass on Dec. 27 to celebrate Christmas, along with the fraternity’s history, according to the church bulletin. St. Bonaventure is the host parish of the fraternity.

The local chapter of the Third Order of St. Francis was begun by Fr. Pamphilo da Magliano, OFM, who was then custos provincial of the custody of the Order of Friars Minor of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Mary. On Oct. 11, 1859, he received the first member into the Third Order of St. Francis, a local girl, Elizabeth Enright, who later became a member of the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany.

At first, the Third Order had slow growth, but in 1882, Pope Leo XIII published an encyclical on St. Francis of Assisi, “Auspicato Concessum,” in which the Third Order of St. Francis was commended and encouraged to increase. The order in Allegany began to grow, and eventually received enough members to form a regular fraternity. The order was consolidated at St. Bonaventure’s Church on Feb. 1, 1885. 

The Allegany group has approximately 30 members, from communities in both Pennsylvania and New York, who meet monthly. Members from St. Bonaventure Parish include Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Belli, Sara Mollica and Julia Maxwell.

The bulletin said that some of the members serve as Eucharistic ministers, readers and altar servers. Some bring the Eucharist to nursing homes, while others have built houses for the needy. One member has worked with Navajo Indians out West.

“St. Bonaventure Parish has been very gracious in providing us with a home for so many years,” fraternity members said in the bulletin.

The St. Bonaventure fraternity may be the oldest Third Order group in the Province, according to Franciscan historian Dominic Monti, OFM.