Pope Francis has officially recognized the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal as a religious institute of pontifical right, the order has announced.
Institutions of pontifical right depend immediately and exclusively
on the Vatican in the matters of internal governance and discipline. It
is the highest form of recognition for a religious community, and is
granted to institutes that show steady growth over a period of
approximately 20-25 years.
The Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, sometimes referred to as the
CFRs, were founded in 1987 in the Archdiocese of New York by a group of
eight American Capuchins who desired a form of Franciscan life dedicated
specifically to service of the poor and evangelization.
The group was established as a diocesan institute by Cardinal John O’Connor in 1999.
Today, the order has about 100 perpetually professed members in 10
dioceses and archdiocese in six countries throughout the world. Besides
the United States, the friars are located in the United Kingdom,
Ireland, Northern Ireland, Nicaragua and Honduras.
Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel was one of the founding members of the
CFRs. During his life as a friar, he founded the St. Francis House for
the homeless and Good Counsel Homes for pregnant women in crisis in New
York. He also directed Trinity Retreat House in Larchmont, New York, and
taught at the Dunwoodie seminary.
In addition, he became known as an author and preacher. For more than
25 years, he appeared on EWTN, hosting “Sunday Night: Live with Father
Benedict Groeschel,” among other programs. He passed away in October
2014 at the age of 81.
The friars are dedicated to their mission of serving the poor and
most vulnerable, and preaching the Gospel as part of the New
“After the manner of St. Francis of Assisi, the friars seek to follow
in the footsteps of Jesus, as a prophetic witness that life is a
pilgrimage to the Father, of faith, hope, and love of God and neighbor,
made possible by the Holy Spirit,” the Holy See said when describing the
“They participate in Christ’s renewal of all things through their
prayer, fraternal life, service of the poor, and evangelization, as a
complement to the work of those whose mission is to serve parochially.”
The decree of recognition was signed by his Eminence, João Cardinal
Bráz de Aviz, Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of
Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and his Archbishop
Secretary, José Rodríguez Carballo, OFM, on 13 June 2016, Feast of St.
Anthony of Padua. It was formally announced by the order in a statement
on Dec. 8, 2016, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
In the statement, the General Servant (superior) of the order,
expressed his gratitude to the Archdiocese of New York and to Cardinal
Timothy Dolan for having been “nurtured so faithfully…throughout these
“(W)e now commit ourselves ever more urgently and zealously to the
living out of our consecrated life, in faithful prayer, devoted
fraternity, and service to the most poor and needy among us,” he said.
“Please pray with us in praise and gratitude to God, on this special
occasion, for his continued blessings on our Community and His Church.”