Franciscan Charities
St. Anthony Bread
3140 Meramec Street
Saint Louis, Missouri 63118
Phone: (314) 655-0530
Fax:     (314) 655-0562
Province of the Sacred Heart
Eremo-della-Carcieri
Hermitage near Assisi
Our History
In September 1858, eight German Franciscan friars arrived in the United States. They had been recruited by the bishop of the diocese of Alton, IL, for the purpose of ministering to the spiritual needs of German immigrants. At the direction of the bishop, the friars settled in Teutopolis, IL. In 1875 and 1876, 99 friars and 22 candidates followed the first Franciscan pioneers in response to the Kulturkampf imposed by Otto von Bismarck. Within a short time after their arrival, the friars moved to Quincy, St. Louis, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Chicago, Dubuque, and Memphis as well as smaller communities in Nebraska, Minnesota, and northern Wisconsin.

The willingness of the pioneer friars to leave the familiar to go where they were needed is a virtue that has left its mark on the Province over the decades. When bishops needed pastors, the friars volunteered. When the call went out for missionaries to China and to Brazil, the friars responded. When minority communities were underserved, the friars gladly ministered to Native Americans, African Americans, Poles, and Spanish-speaking immigrants. When bishops needed schools, the men of the Sacred Heart Province founded colleges, seminaries, and high schools. The friars were present—and some gave their lives—during the yellow fever epidemics that ravaged Memphis, TN, in the latter part of the 19th century. From June 1977 to 2002, by establishing a ministry in New Orleans, the friars responded to the needs of those with HIV/AIDS at a time when the illness was little understood and when few people were willing to help.  

For over 75 years, beginning in 1876, the friars of Sacred Heart Province served as the Catholic chaplains for the Stateville Penitentiary in Joliet, IL.  Throughout the history of Sacred Heart Province, the friars have gone where they were needed—prompting one of the former provincials to refer to them as “the Minute Men of the Church.”
The Present
In the mid-1960’s, Sacred Heart Province was blessed with over 800 friars. At present, our numbers are closer to 200.While the number of friars has declined greatly in recent years, they continue to respond to the call of the larger Church. Today the friars minister to the Athabascans in Alaska and the Ojibway in Odanah, WI; to African Americans in East St. Louis, IL, and Monroe, LA; and to the immigrant communities in Illinois, Texas, Indiana, Missouri, and Louisiana.

The friars of the Sacred Heart Province continue a missionary presence in Brazil, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Thailand.  

While we are no longer at Stateville Penitentiary today, one of the friars currently heads the prison ministry for the Diocese of Belleville, IL, and is spearheading a project to open up a “reentry house” for ex-offenders.
The Franciscan friars arrive in Teutopolis, IL
The Franciscan friars gladly ministered to Native Americans.
The friars sent missionaries to China and Brazil.
The friars served as Catholic chaplains for the Stateville Penitentiary in Joliet, IL
The friars shown serving the African American community in Memphis, TN
The HIV/AIDS ministry was established and located in this property in New Orleans.
Saint Peters church and friary in the loop of Chicago, IL
Bro. Bobby Ruzicka, OFM serving is Alaska.