Franciscan Order | Conventual Franciscans

Remembering Friar Basil Heiser

Written by Peter Rajchert on . Posted in Order


Friar Basil Heiser was the Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual from 1960 to 1972. Born in Terre Haute, Indiana in 1909, he lived to be 100 years old. Friar Sebastian Anton took care of Friar Basil in the last four years of the former Minister General’s life. In this video, he talks to Friar Wayne Hellmann about that time.


A happy, faith-filled man who speaks several languages, Friar Sebastian bonded with Friar Basil and helped him recover his strength. He had initially expected to stay with Friar Basil for only three months. But the connection between the men became so strong that those three months turned into four years. When Friar Basil died the loss to Friar Sebastian was immense. He cried in mourning for his Franciscan brother for a very long time.

A little on Friar Basil:

Friar Basil Heiser joined the Conventual Franciscans in 1925 and professed his Solemn Vows five years later in Rome. Early in 1932 he became a priest. His education included the study of theology at St. Anthony Seminary in Rensselaer, New York and the Pontifical Faculty of St. Bonaventure also in Rome.

Before his election to the position of Minister General, Friar Basil worked as a professor and rector in the seminaries of Carey, Ohio and Chaska, Minnesota. His efforts saw him help friars in their formation as Conventual Franciscans. After his tenure as Minister General in 1972, Pope Paul VI appointed Friar Basil to a position in the Congregation for Religious and Secular Institutes. Friar Basil stayed with the congregation for 12 years.

Anyone who had an opportunity to meet Friar Basil even for a short time will always remember the experience. Friar Basil’s faith shone through him. He had a sense of humor, loved life, and stayed active until the very end.

(Source of image with story:

The Inspiring Pope Francis

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Pope Francis

The world thanks God for Pope Francis. People from countries around the planet find inspiration in our Holy Father who lives prayerfully, simply and in service to vulnerable people. This is a reflection of St. Francis of Assisi (after whom the pope has called himself).

Long ago, Francis and his brothers wandered through Italy and later the rest of Europe, preaching, helping, comforting and doing whatever they could to improve people’s lives. Our Conventual Franciscans today continue their work for the Church. They are praying for Pope Francis and will serve him as they have served the pontiffs of the last eight centuries. Our friars also maintain the spirit of St. Francis in the 21st century, by educating children, providing pastoral care, working as nurses, doing scholarly work, and fulfilling many other ministries. Pope Francis is their guide and inspiration.

(Source of image with story: Tenan at

October 2012: Medical Mission to Honduras

Written by Peter Rajchert on . Posted in Order

dr lily and sr denise with patients

 Dr Lily and Sr Denise with patients

In 1997 St. Joseph University Parish in Terre Haute, IN, began a special relationship with St. Maximilian Kolbe (SMK), a poor parish in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, Central America. SMK is served by Conventual Franciscan Friars, just like SJUP. Motivated by this twinning relationship, our parish has sent lots of teams to help with particular needs of the parishioners there. These teams have gotten to know and love not only the Central American friars but many parishioners of SMK and have found these experiences to be life-changing.



Every year our parishioners come back to the Haute exhausted but happy. So what was different about this year’s October medical mission? It was remarkable for the close collaboration between our Indiana folk and our Tegucigalpa hosts and partners: Our Indiana medical staff included Dr. Lilly, Friar Paul, and Tammy (who is Coordinator of mission trips to our Sister Parish). They were joined by local Drs. Yolanda and Ofelia who were with us at each of the four sites where we set up clinics and also by Drs. Lofo and Meyling. Two sixth year medical students joined us one morning too. For translation, Friar Mark was joined in Honduras by Sister Denise, SND, and at different times by four young people from Tegucigalpa: Josh, Jackie, Rocky, and Max. Bill and Shannon, LeDonna, and Cookie handled our little pharmacy, with occasional help from others. Friar Isidoro was great in planning, logistics, and any particular need we had. Friars Javier and Edgar were most welcoming, but we still missed Ramiro, "the hugging friar," who was away with his family. Also, we had some fine Honduran drivers who at different times ferried us around: Jorge, Eduardo, Jeffrey, and Ricardo. With so much help, we were able to help a lot of people, probably between seven and eight hundred. Even the stickers which Lilly brought for the little kids she served went a long way: they seemed to multiply.




Alba and her daughter Carol prepared absolutely wonderful meals. We never had anything we didn’t enjoy. So much for sacrifice! We had an adventuresome group that was eager to try to the local delicacies, even those hawked by street venders, like corn on the cob, tamales, fried yuca, horchata, and pupusas. You might expect that we’d have some sickness, at least some good diarrhea. Sorry! I won’t say who, but one Hautian enjoyed the food so much that he ate a little too much one evening.



We prayed together every day, but will not forget four Masses we were privileged to share: On the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi we had a glorious Mass in which ten young people professed vows as Secular (lay) Franciscans. Among them were four married couples. There were about 700 people at our Sunday Mass at the parish. Wow! And afterwards we baptized 21 persons, from tykes to an adult. On our last night in Tegucigalpa, we participated in the Eucharist at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Suyapa, inaugurating the "Year of Faith." The Cardinal and ten other bishops were cool, but what a great experience! There were somewhere between fifteen hundred and three thousand people at Mass. They were so enthusiastic. They sang powerfully. A whole sea of hands went up after the Creed to personally "own" and promise to put that profession of faith into action. True, the old school bus that took us there and brought us back was a bunch of junk: it took mechanics to get it started after that Mass; we were even talking about pushing it. And the headlights were shorted out. But our spirits were high as we returned to the friary. The last Mass was on the morning of our departure, with friars Isidoro, Javier, and Edgar. After one reading in English and another in Spanish, Friar Isidoro spoke about the feast of the day and about our medical mission. Then everyone shared what this experience had meant for the living of their faith. We were deeply grateful to the Lord as we received Holy Communion. After the normal final blessing of the Mass, the eight of us gathered around the three local friars and sang a blessing for them and for the people of their parish.


May the Lord bless everyone who helped this medical mission with vitamins and other medicines, with donations, and with prayer. We couldn’t have done it without them.


Friar Mark, Pastor

A Report on Conventual Franciscan Vocations in Africa

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Conventual Franciscan novices in Zambia

Beginning this year the African Federation of Conventual Franciscans has three Novitiate Houses: in Ndola, Zambia, in Saltpond, Ghana and in Arusha, Tanzania.

These three houses of formation are inter-jurisdictional, i.e. the formation in them is done in common with other jurisdictions of Afcof. There are 31 Novices in all, from Zambia, Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania. The next year group of Novices in AFCOF may be still bigger, since at present the number of Postulants is as follows: Zambia=11, Ghana=11, Kenya=8, Tanzania=1, Uganda=2, Malawi=1.

Friar Tadeusz Świątkowski
General Assistant for AFCOF

Service and Celebration During Holy Week in Vietnam

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Friars marking Good Friday in Vietnam

The Conventual Franciscan Friars in Vietnam experienced a rewarding Holy Week and Easter. Brother Jerry Payne from the Franciscans’ St. Joseph of Cupertino Province in the western United States and three novice friars provided food to the lepers of Van Mon as well as to the boat people of the Red River at this time. Members of a local Franciscan Youth Group helped with the effort. On Good Friday, they traveled more than 15 miles on their bicycles to Van Mon where with the friars they gave residents more food and also socialized with them.

Holy Thursday Mass, Good Friday Liturgy, Easter Vigil Mass, and Easter Mass the friars participated in at local parishes. From reports, these services were intensely spiritual. Faith is important to the people of Vietnam. Our friars in the country help them live their faith and make sure that men who feel called to service as Franciscans can fulfill their vocations.

(Source of image with story: Conventual Franciscans.)

Holy Week in Honduras

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Friar Paul Schloemer flew to Honduras for Holy Week. Friar Paul is the vocation director for Our Lady of Consolation Province in the United States. He lives in Louisville, Kentucky. Here he tells us about his experience in Honduras through words and photographs:

Although we all recognize the priest shortage in the United States, it is often more dire in many other areas of the world. Because in my position of Vocation Director I am usually "supply help" for masses (going where a priest is needed) I have had the last several years the privilege of helping our Parish of Saint Maximilian Kolbe in Tegucigalpa Honduras for Holy Week. St. Max's is very large, with the principal parish church and 16 mission churches associated with it. Thus with just three priest-friars in the friary (only 1 of whom is full time at the parish) they are always in need of help, especially during this most holy time of the Church year. This past Holy Week I was responsible for leading the liturgies, visiting the sick, and offering my presence to one of these missions, Templo del Sagrado Corazon de Maria (the temple of the Sacred Heart of Mary.) I also celebrated Palm Sunday Mass with two other Templos in the Colonias (neighborhoods) of "21 de Febrero", and "La Fuente." It is always a very precious and holy time for me, and an honor to be able to serve a people for whom the faith is not simply a religion to follow, but a refuge from poverty and a political system that does not often seem to care about them.

Below are some pictures from my travels this year.

- Friar Paul Schloemer, OFM Conv.

 chrismmasssuyapaChrism Mass in Suyapa

palmprocession2Procession on Palm Sunday

holythursdayadorationHoly Thursday Adoration

footwashingFoot washing

goodfridayviacrucisGood Friday