of some of the most transforming moments of our lives. So it is no wonder that people of faith have a strong a sense of place, firmly rooted in the feeling they experience when they linger for reflection in a garden or watch sunlight streaming through a stained glass window.

Although St. Francis encouraged itinerancy, there are surroundings, past and present, that will forever be associated with the friars of St. John the Baptist Province: places where families baptized babies; where students recited lessons; where those in need of comfort found solace in the simple act of being there.

If they have meaning, it is only because they are imbued with the hopes, the prayers, the joys and the tears of those who stopped along the way to admire the handiwork of God and man. Built and sold, razed or rehabbed, buildings come and go. But memories last forever.
“It was a sacred space for us, a building we treasured,” Vicar Provincial Frank Jasper says of Duns Scotus College in Southfield, Mich. Named for 13th-century theologian John Duns Scotus, the majestic Italian Gothic complex was a school of philosophy for more than 1,000 friars from 1930-1979. Today the former college houses Word of Faith International Christian Center.
A monument at St. John Cemetery in St. Bernard, Ohio, marks the grave of 25 Tyrolese friars who came to serve immigrants.
Summer in the Mary Garden at Transfiguration Parish in Southfield, Mich.
In 1958, when the friars opened a school of theology in Centerville, Ohio, the chapel at St. Leonard’s was its stunning centerpiece, decorated inside and out by artists of world renown. Upper left, the statue of St. Leonard of Port Maurice greets visitors; left, the towering mosaic of St. Francis above the door. Since the friars departed in 1981, St. Leonard’s has become a widely respected senior living community.
Since 2000, friars from St. John the Baptist Province have ministered in the parishes and missions of western Jamaica.
This sculpture of the Sorrowful Mother with a fallen soldier (by Eugene Kormendi) was dedicated in 1946 at Seven Dolors Shrine in Valparaiso, Ind.
In 1898, St. Katharine Drexel asked the friars to establish a mission in St. Michaels, Ariz. Since then, men of St. John the Baptist Province and more recently Our Lady of Guadalupe Province have served Native Americans in the ruggedly scenic Southwest. Above: the sandstone hill at Window Rock, Ariz. Upper right, the friars’ first mission at St. Michaels, Ariz. Right, the Navajo-inspired Hogan Church in Chinle, Ariz.
A friary, a novitiate, a refuge from the city, a house of discernment, a national shrine to Padua’s most famous Franciscan: Since its consecration in 1889, St. Anthony has been all that and more, a 47-acre oasis of tranquility for friars and pilgrims alike. Far left, the chapel atop Mt. Airy; left, the Fatima Shrine; below, the Shrine of the Crucifixion.
The Canticle of the Sun window inspires visitors to Francis Retreat House in Easton, Pa. Opened 48 years ago, the retreat house was first staffed by Slovak Franciscans.
The chapel at St. Francis Seminary in Mt. Healthy, Ohio. The school, dedicated in 1924 and closed in 1980, is home to a growing retirement community.
In 1209, Pope Innocent III approved a plan by Francis of Assisi for a new way of religious life. This year, Franciscans around the world are marking the Eighth Centenary of the founding of their Order. In 1859, the entity that became St. John the Baptist Province in Cincinnati was formally erected as a “custody.” This 12-part series, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the province, celebrates the lives and contributions of the friars.
The chapel at Holy Family Friary in Pittsburgh, Pa. Since 1970, neighbors in the Avalon area have been joining the friars for daily worship.
Since 1956, friars have been working as missionaries in the Philippines. Above, the lush, lovely island of Biliran.