Media publications within the Province have been heavily influenced by the friars’ relationship with the members of the Secular Franciscan Order (OFS). “Those are the dedicated men and women,” wrote Fr. Joe Chinnici, “imbued with Catholic Action and committed to addressing major social problems.” In 1921 there were 390 distinct groups of Secular Franciscans in the United States. By 1938 there were 94,000 members in the USA with 8,000 members in the Province of St. Barbara with a ratio of 5 women for each man. As of 2014, there are over 12,700 Secular Franciscans in the USA. The close relationship between the friars and members of the Secular Franciscans in Los Angeles fostered the radio and eventual film company known as The Hour of St. Francis. To contextualize its message, both the radio and film shows used a dramatic series of entertaining stories instead of theory-driven sermons. Other media outlets combined the friars, Secular Franciscan members, parishioners, former students, and the general public. One sees this in the Western Tertiary which became The Way magazine, in “One Minute Gospel Presentations” by Fr. Emery Tang, in Franciscan Communications, and in the Serra Press. Both Vatican II and the changing multicultural demographics in the Province communities shaped the messages of the Franciscan family in the second half of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st century.
Fr. Brendan Mitchell
Fr. Brendan Mitchell founded The Western Tertiary in 1938 which, in 1950, became The Way of Saint Francis. Each issue of the magazine carried a feature he called “By The Way” in which Fr. Brendan would share with his audience his personal thoughts and encouragement. He was known for his fierce dedication to The Way and to the Secular Franciscan Order. The late Fr. Geoffrey Bridges recognized that he “empowered them to become a self-governing lay order in the Church and at the same time offered teaching and example in Franciscan spirituality.” His close friend Fr. Simon Scanlon once explained that there was “another side” of Fr. Brendan known only to a few. On the road from one visit to another, Fr. Brendan would turn onto an unfamilar street, leading away from the destination. He would stop and enter a house to visit someone who had once been a member of the Province but had decided that somehow he had to go the rest of his journey outside the community. Fr. Brendan “had that quality of the good shepherd; once his life touched yours he would never let you go; you were always his brother.” Fr. Brendan died in 1991 after 61 years in the Order.
Click on the links below to view more activities the friars have been performing over the last 100 years.