Fr. Edward Blecke, OFM
Fr. Edward Blecke, OFM, was the first Provincial Minister of Holy Name Province. He was born in Belecke, a village in the Diocese of Paderborn, Germany, on June 8, 1864.
In his youth he was trained as a cabinet maker, but then was drawn to pursue a religious vocation and so pursued the necessary classical studies. Since it was not possible to enter the Franciscan Order in his homeland due to the Kulturkampf legislation then in force, he came to the United States to do so. He received the Franciscan habit on March 25, 1886 at St. Bonaventure Friary, Paterson, N.J. and professed temporary vows in 1887. In 1890, Fr. Edward made his profession of solemn vows and was ordained a priest later that year in the chapel at Seton Hall College, South Orange, N.J.
Immediately after his ordination he was entrusted with the responsible position of novice master in Paterson, serving in that role for eight years. After that he was appointed guardian of the friary. In 1900, Fr. Edward was elected to the dual office of custos (provincial vicar) of the Province of St. Elizabeth, Thuringia, and commissary of its American friaries. As commissary, he purchased the property for St. Joseph’s Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon, N.Y.
When Holy Name Province was erected as an independent entity in 1901, Fr. Edward was appointed Provincial Minister and was re-elected to that position three times, serving from 1901-1910, and again from 1916-19. He presided over the delicate task of creating the new Holy Name Province from two previous entities and did much to assure its future by opening St. Joseph Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon. He was also instrumental in arranging the move of the Society of the Atonement from the Episcopal to the Catholic Church. Fr. Edward also served as guardian of St. Francis Friary in New York City (1910-1913) and rector of the seminary in Callicoon (1913-1916).
From 1921 to 1927, Fr. Edward was a general councilor of the Order in Rome. His simple and unaffected piety was genuine. His calm discretion, candid straight-forwardness and his uniform kindness made him the father of all and a friend of many.
His final years were spent in St. Francis Friary in New York. He died March 10, 1942, at St. Francis Hospital in the Bronx. Fr. Edward was 77 years old, a professed friar for 54 years and a priest for 51 years. He was truly the “Father of Holy Name Province.”