In Panna Maria, Texas, Pilgrims Retrace Polish and Franciscan History to the 19th Century

Written by Peter Rajchert on . Posted in Slideshow


Friar Paul Schlomer is the formation director for Our Lady of Consolation Province, a Conventual Franciscan jurisdiction in the United States Mid- and Southwest. He lives in San Antonio, Texas where many friars in formation attend Our Lady of the Lake University.


Recently, Friar Paul, members of a local Secular Franciscan Fraternity and student friars traveled to Panna Maria, a small town about an hour southwest of San Antonio. Surrounded by farms, woodlots and fields, Panna Maria was the earliest Polish settlement in the United States, founded by Friar Leopold Moczygemba, a Polish Conventual Franciscan. Friar Paul takes the story from here: 

The history of the Conventual Franciscans in the United States can be read on our site here,, but after 1859, the original mission to Texas was abandoned. However one friar, Fr. Leopold Moczygemba from Upper Silesia (now Poland) remained behind. He had written his family back in the old country to join him in Texas, and many made the long arduous journey. The local bishop, in exchange for Fr. Leopold’s service, gave him a rather inhospitable parcel of land called Panna Maria to create a church and a town. Reportedly his relatives were quite upset at him for dragging them into this land which required quite a bit of development to farm, but they made a success of the area.


The Secular Franciscan Fraternity of San Francis of Assisi in San Antonio, along with the Formation community of San Damiano Friary visited this “home” of the Conventual Franciscans. What was hardscrabble desert is now a picturesque small Texas town, and the future home of the Polish Heritage museum of the United States. It was especially meaningful to visit the grave of Fr. Leopold, who, although he eventually left the Franciscans to become a diocesan priest, and also the Papal envoy to the US and founder of SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary in Detroit, MI, nevertheless looms large in the Conventual Franciscan ethos of determined faithful missionary work.

(Source of images and text: Friar Paul Schloemer.)



Come Glimpse the Richness of Franciscan Life

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If you have been wondering what Franciscan life looks like, we share with you below a Thanksgiving video today from Our Lady of Consolation Province, a Franciscan Conventual jurisdiction in the United States Mid- and Southwest. The video offers viewers a glimpse of how rich and fulfilling each day can be if you are a friar.

The Franciscans in OLC Province and across the three other provinces in the United States serve in parish ministries and run retreat centers. Their retreat centers in Prior Lake, Minnesota and Mount St. Francis, Indiana have been helping folks understand their relationship with God for 50 and 40 years respectively. Service to help improve other people’s lives is very important to Franciscans.

Franciscan life is also about understanding and deepening one’s vocation. Throughout the year 2016, the friars, their families and friends celebrated professions and ordinations. The men who professed their vows and were ordained to the priesthood and diaconate are all filled with joy as we see in the video.

Communities are another important part of Franciscan life. In our video, viewers notice friars interacting with men, women and children from their parishes, retreat centers and other ministries. The friars serve these folks and are at the same grateful for their support.

(Source of image with story: OLC Province.)

Julio Martinez Embraces Franciscan Life

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Earlier this month, Franciscan Friar Conventual Julio Martinez professed his Solemn Vows into the hands of his Minister Provincial Friar James McCurry. In a profession of Solemn Vows, a friar dedicates himself to live the vows of chastity, obedience and poverty for all his days.

The profession took place during a Mass on December 8, 2016 at the Shrine of St. Anthony in Ellicott City, Maryland. Friars from across Maryland and beyond journeyed to Ellicott City to honor Friar Julio and this important step in his vocation. Friar Julio’s brother Jose joined the Franciscans for dinner and fraternity that evening.

Friar Julio has been active in service throughout Our Lady of the Angels Province in the Eastern United States. Currently, he works as the parochial vicar at St. Clement Mary Hofbauer Parish in Baltimore. He finds great joy in helping men and women deepen their relationships with the Lord.

(Source of image with story:


Retired Priests and Religious Need Our Help

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Franciscan Friar Conventual Victor Abegg and St. Paul Parish in Pismo Beach, California (which he serves as pastor) are concerned about the wellbeing of retired priests and religious. Thousands of sisters, friars and of course priests who spent their lives bringing God to humanity and making the world a better place now need assistance in the more vulnerable years of their lives.

To help these men and women, Friar Victor's St. Paul Parish held a second collection on a recent Sunday. The money will be pooled with similar second collections from other parishes across the United States. Franciscans like Friar Victor always know that when people work together they can affect greater change for the better. Friar Victor also knows that we have a responsibility to help people who now just cannot take care of themselves anymore.

(Source of image with story:

Encounter at Sydney Parish Leads Young Man to Find the Franciscans

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Friar Jerome Westernberg is a Franciscan Conventual from Australia. St. Bonaventure Province in the United Sates supports the friars in their Australian ministries. Friar Jerome met the Franciscans Conventual actually in Sydney. They served at the parish where his parents worshipped.

Jerome noticed immediately how easy it was to talk with them and how dedicated they are to the Gospel life. Coming from a family of many brothers, Jerome found that when he was with the Franciscans it was just like being with his family. The friars were immediately supportive of Jerome. They listened to his stories and urged him to follow his calling.

(Source of image with story: