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Older Stories from around the Custody

On the 28th April 2015, Friar James Mary McInerney was ordained a priest at the hands of Most Rev. Kevin McDonnell, Archbishop Emeritus of Southwark at a very special Holy Mass in Dublin, Ireland.


Friar James has been serving the Conventual parish in Fairview , Dublin for the past year after leaving the house of studies in Oxford where he was being educated at Blackfriars Hall. Friar James has also been busy in his role as Vocations Director, and he has seen an increase in the number of men joining the order. Although he will now have more responsibilities as a priest he intends to continue in his capacity as the vocations director from his parish in Dublin.







OXFORD has changed quite a lot in the past 500 years, so the Greyfriars can be forgiven for taking some time to find their feet.

The Conventual Catholic friars moved back to the city this summer, for the first time since the English Reformation in the 16th century.

But already as they settle in to their new friary, formerly the All Saints Convent in East Oxford, Friar Daniel Geary said they have had a warm welcome.

He told the Oxford Mail: “Everyone is starting to settle in here. We will all be here together by September 26, when there will be 12 of us.


Greyfriars Oxford

“People in Cowley have been very welcoming and warm and receptive. It has really been overwhelming.

“Many of the friars have come by to see our new home for the first time. “We are planning to now spend time getting to know local groups.

“We are in a very diverse area and yet just walking distance from the city centre where our friars go to school at Blackfriars Hall. There is no doubt we are truly blessed.” The friars moved in to the former convent, in St Mary’s Road, after it was vacated by the All Saints Sisters of the Poor.


Friar Geary, the group’s formator who is responsible for teaching young recruits, said they have now been recognised by the Greyfriars in Rome, meaning it is now affiliated with the wider Catholic Church.


“We are known officially as the Blessed Agnellus of Pisa Friary – after one of the friars who settled in Oxford in 1224, sent to the British Isles by St Francis of Assisi. “But at the moment we are hoping people will become familiar with just ‘the friary’. “Our aim is to start working with Helen & Douglas House hospice, our neighbours, and also to help the homeless – where there is a big need in the Oxford area – as well as the elderly, the poor, the disabled and local families.”


They will also still be on the look-out for men interested in becoming friars, he added, who can go through a process to see if they are suitable to live in the friary. During their first period in Oxford, the Greyfriars – so called because of the colour of their robes – had a church that was in the area where the Westgate Shopping Centre now stands. But in 1538 their friary, along with others around the country, fell foul of King Henry VIII during the English Reformation.


That saw the King reject the authority of the Pope and make himself head of the Church, so he could grant himself a divorce from his Spanish first wife, Catherine of Aragon. Years later, in 1906, the Greyfriars returned to England, with another branch of Fransiscans, the Capuchin Franciscans, moving in to what is now known as Greyfriars Hall in 1928. Last September the Greyfriars took a house in Holton, near Wheatley, before they made the move to Oxford at the beginning of July.


Original Artical:


On 25th September 2014, Friar James Mary McInerney was ordained a deacon by Bishop Denis Brennan in Wexford. He was supported by the presence of his family, friends, local priests and parishioners, as well as his fellow friars who had made the journey from all over Great Britain & Ireland.


A native of County Cork, Friar James Mary has just moved back to Ireland after completing his priestly studies in Oxford. He will now assist as a deacon at the Conventual Franciscan parish in Fairview, Dublin, where as well as engaging in various pastoral ministries in the community, and being responsible for vocations to ‘The Greyfriars’, he will also be preparing for his eventual ordination to the priesthood which should take place sometime next year..



The ordination ceremony was the first time in over 500 years that an Irish Greyfriar (Conventual Franciscan) was ordained at the Friary in Wexford, which was founded by the order in 1486.  Friar James Mary will now be taking some time on retreat, and then he hopes to spend some time with his family and friends before taking up his new responsibilities in Dublin. Please pray for Friar James Mary and his vocation to the consecrated life.


On Saturday, August 23, 2014, the friars journeyed to our Church of St. Clare in Manchester for the priestly ordination of Friar Cătălin Jeremiah Bedău. He is from our Romanian Province of St. Joseph and is being ordained for the Custody of Great Britain and Ireland.


The Most Reverend Patrick Kelly, Archbishop Emeritus of Liverpool, presided over the ordination. The following day, the 10:30 Sunday Eucharist of the Parish was presided over by the newly Ordained Friar Jeremiah as his first Mass of Thanksgiving. He will also celebrate a Thanksgiving Mass on August 31 in his home village of Nicolae Bãlcescu, Romania.


Ambrose Mary, OFM Conv



Following their three years of discernment, Friar James Mary and Friar Gerard Mary made a thirty day retreat; a final preparation for their solemn profession with other men from our English speaking jurisdictions in Assisi and on Mount LaVerna. On the 22nd of August, the feast of the Queenship of Mary, they professed their solemn vows into the hands of our Vicar General from Rome, Friar Jerzy Norel. This joyous event also commemorated the historical occasion of the first solemn profession of the Greyfriars in Oxford in nearly 500 years!


Following their solemn profession friar James Mary will be moving on to our friary in Dublin where he will be preparing for deaconate ordination. Friar Gerard Mary will return to Oxford where he will continue his studies.


On Sunday 23rd February 2014 at our church of St. Francis of Assisi, Wexford, the Rt Rev Denis Brennan, Bishop of Ferns, ordained Friar Catalin-Ieremia Budau OFM Conv. a deacon.


His Franciscan brothers, friends, and members from the local community, along with his family who had made the journey from Romania were all gathered to share Friar Jeremiah’s special day with him.


Friar Jeremiah will soon travel to Oxford where he will join the Friars at the Blessed Agnellus of Pisa Formation House, and further his training in preparation for priestly ordination. The Deacon’s role is one of service and ministry at the Altar, as well as preaching, baptising, and engaging in pastoral work. Please pray for Friar Jeremiah as he begins this important role in preparation for priestly ordination.



On the 25th of July friars Colin Mary, Paul Martin and Cornelius Mary, with the two other friars from their novitiate class, completed their year of prayer and discernment and professed the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience for a period of three years. Throughout the novitiate year they wore a rope without knots which after their profession was replaced with a knotted cord. Many friars, family and friends were present for this joyous occasion.


Colin Mary, Paul Martin and Cornelius Mary will continue their formation with their brothers in the House of Formation in Oxford. There they will be engaged in studies and various apostolates. Their focus will be on integrating their life of prayer, fraternity, studies and apostolic works as they move along their Franciscan journey toward the Solemn Profession of their vows.

Conventual Franciscan Novices


After months of planning and preparation the Friars have finally moved in to their new home in Cowley, Oxford. The building which was previously the home of the All Saints Sisters of the Poor (Anglican) will be renamed ‘The Friary’ and become the main formation house for friars throughout the custody of Great Britain & Ireland.


For those friars training for the priesthood, The Friary will be an ideal location for travelling in to the city centre for their classes at Blackfriars Hall. The multicultural Cowley Road is busy, colourful and lined with cafés, restaurants and shops, with a mixed population of students and professionals. On the same site as The Friary are Helen & Douglas House children’s hospice, and St. John’s nursing home; both of which have a long and fruitful history with the All Saints Sisters of the Poor who helped to establish them both. Student Friars are hoping to get involved with these ministries as part of their apostolates, and have already started volunteering at Helen & Douglas House, The Porch Steppin’ Stone Centre on nearby Magdalen Road, and St John's Nursing Home.


The Friars spent two full days moving from their former home in Holon, near Wheatley and are now looking forward to a short break before they begin their summer assignments. The Friary will officially open in September with the start of the new academic year, and the Friars will welcome two new postulants and also the return of three post-novices from the United States.


Please pray for us during this time of transition, and also for the All Saints Sisters of the Poor.


On Saturday 17th May 2014, the Friars from Blessed Agnellus of Pisa Formation House in Oxford appeared on the front page of the Oxford Mail newspaper.


The interview came about after plans were unveiled that the friars will be moving from their current home in Holton, near Wheatley, to a new home in Cowley just a short distance from the city centre. 12 friars will be making the move into the former All Saints Convent on St. Mary's Road in Cowley, formerly the home of the Anglican Sisters of the All Saints Sisters of the Poor. The Sisters will be relocating to a smaller residence nearby, and have been extremely positive about the friars' arrival in Cowley


The Article Reads:

Greyfriars Oxford
Greyfriars Oxford

By Matt Oliver - The Oxford Mail


THEY fled the city almost 500 years ago during the English Reformation. But this summer, after centuries away, the Greyfriars will finally return to Oxford. The Conventual Catholic friars are to settle in All Saints Convent, Cowley, in the next two months, once it is vacated by the All Saints Sisters of the Poor, who are moving to a smaller building.


Greyfriar formator Friar Daniel Geary, 53, said: “It is going to be quite a wonderful and historic moment. “There will be 12 of us in the house of formation, with many being involved in training and going to classes. “But part of that process is also to become involved with the area. Cowley is a very rich and diverse place and we look forward to joining the community.”


Known as the Greyfriars for their grey robes, two members of the Franciscan Conventuals first arrived in Oxford in 1224, having been sent to England by St Francis of Assisi, a medieval saint famed for creating the Nativity scene.

The monks lived in Greyfriars Hall, in Iffley Road, and provided aid to city’s growing population, helping the poor and founding academic institutions. But in 1538 their convent, along with others around the country, fell foul of King Henry VIII during the English Reformation.



That saw the King reject the authority of the Pope and make himself head of the Church, so he could grant himself a divorce from his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. What followed was a purge of catholic monks loyal to the Vatican and the order was forced to flee the country.


Years later, in 1906, the Greyfriars returned to England. Then in 1928 another branch of Franciscans, the Capuchin Franciscans, took over the care of Greyfriars Hall.


But last September the Greyfriars took a house in Holton, near Wheatley, and since then they have been hoping to move back to the city.


Paul Kennedy, 28, is currently training to be a friar. He said an increase in young recruits like himself prompted the monks to come back to Oxford.

He said: “We thought it was a good reason to come back, it’s really quite exciting for all of us. “It has been a struggle to find somewhere that has enough bedrooms for all of us. “But we heard the All Saints sisters had left their convent because it was too big and they were more than happy to let us move in.”


The new convent is also next door to Helen & Douglas House, established by the sisters, and the St John’s residential care home, which Mr Kennedy says the Greyfriars will offer their services to.


He added: “We have already had much support from local groups and many of us study at Blackfriar’s Hall [in St Giles’]. “The reason we wanted to be back in a city is so we can work closely with the homeless, the poor and local schools.


“We hope if people know we are here they will come to us when they need us most.”


More information about the Greyfriars



  • September 1224: Nine Franciscans arrive ashore at Dover, led by Blessed Agnellus of Pisa, chosen by St Francis of Assisi.

  • November 1224: After leaving five friars in Canterbury, two friars move to London, and the last two settle in a house in Oxford. They teach at colleges in Oxford, many of which were founded by churches.

  • 1517: Pope Leo X divides Franciscans into conventuals, who live in cities, and observants, who live outside them.

  • 1538: Greyfriars across the country are supressed during the English Reformation and forced to flee the country.

  • 1910: The Greyfriars are re-established in England.

  • September 2013: The Greyfriars move into a house near Wheatley.

  • June/July 2014: The target time for the Greyfriars to move back to Oxford, at All Saints Convent.


To view the original article please follow the link by clicking here.


On Sunday 16th February 2014 at our church of St. Clare's, Blackley in Manchester, Friar Philip Doherty, Conventual Franciscan Friar and Priest, celebrated the 50th Anniversary of his ordination to Priesthood.


The special mass, held at St. Clare's, drew in a large crowd of people to the celebration including parishoners, family members and Friar Philip's Franciscan brothers, including the friars currently in formation in Oxford.
After the mass, everyone in attendance was invited to join Fr. Philip in the friary for celebratory refreshments and the opportunity to spend some personal time with him on this extraordinary day.

The Homily given by Friar David Blowey, OFM Conv. at the Anniversary Mass:


Today we celebrate the gift of the Priesthood!And today we celebrate and thank the Lord God for calling our brother Philip to that ministry 50 years ago today: the 16th of February 1964. But what is a priest? And for what kind of ministry are we giving thanks?In four words, a Priest is:


◦ a Pray-er

◦ a Heal-er

◦ a Feed-er

◦ a Imitat-or (alter Christus)


1. One who Prays:It means having a deep intimacy with God the Father. Even in the Acts of the Apostles (6:2-4) we find St. Peter saying that the Apostles need to be able to have more time for prayer and the ministry of preaching.They needed help, and so does the Church today: We cannot grow in the spirituality of the priesthood if most of our time is directed towards administration. The Church Universal — and even a Parish — are a Community of Talents Shared. As priests, we are called to “offer thanks and praise to God throughout the day, praying not only for the people of God but for the whole world”.


2. One who Heals: How? Primarily — but not only — through anointing and confession. Priests are called to make people whole again: to forgive, relieve and console. And yet healing is not just with oil and absolution: Healing comes through counsel, spiritual direction, patience and understanding with charity.


3. One who Feeds: By preaching the Word, and breaking the Bread. Some people feel that it is enough to just “go to Mass”; yet repeatedly we find in the Scriptures that the Disciples of the Lord are sent out to preach the Word. The Ordination Ritual itself states: “Let the doctrine you teach be true nourishment for the people of God.” As a Deacon, Francis of Assisi sought to make the Scriptures and the Eucharist, alive in the lives of the people by having the Midnight Mass of Christmas celebrated in a cave. Pope Honorius III realized that the Poor Man of Assisi would indeed touch the hearts of the faithful, and so gave permission that the Mass be celebrated outside of a church. Just by this act of moving into a cave, Francis was preaching, without saying a word. Yes, a priest is called to celebrate the Sacraments to bring God’s saving grace to His holy people; But it is through the Word, through preaching and teachings that we are moved to meet the Lord more intimately in His holy Sacraments. Scripture prepares us to meet God in prayer and in liturgy, when those Holy Words are truly shared to touch our lives.


4. And lastly, a Priest in one who Imitates: At Mass we say, “do this in memory of me” at the words of consecration.These words do not simply mean that the priest is to celebrate the Eucharist as Jesus did at the Last Supper: for the Eucharist itself is the Body and Blood of the Lord, offered in love for us. We “do this in his memory” also by becoming more Christ-like alter Christus not just as Ministers of sacraments and grace, but also by means of the living witness of lifestyle and sacrificial death for the flock. During Ordination, the Bishop tells the Priest:“Know what you are doing and imitate the mystery you celebrate”,


and “Always remember the example of the Good Shepherd who came not to be served but to serve, and to seek out and rescue those who were lost. … Do your part in the work of Christ the Priest with genuine joy and love, and attend to the concerns of Christ before your own.”


Father Philip: Thank you for accepting Christ’s call. And continue to follow that invitation, even as your own hands are bound, leading you to where you might rather not go (Jn 21:18). Thank you for all those whom you have washed with the waters of Baptism.Thank you for those to whose hearts, souls and bodies you have brought healing and peace. Thank you for those whose prayer of love you have offered to our Heavenly Father, that they might no longer be two, but rather one in Holy Matrimony (Gen 2:24; Mk 10:8). Thank you for those you have feed and nourished by your works & by the Eucharists you have celebrated. And, thank you, Philip, for the continued witness of your very life!


The Custody of Blessed Agnellus of Pisa of Great Britain and Ireland held the second part of their first Ordinary Custodial Chapter from November 25th - 29th of this year. The friars gathered at All Hallows Seminary in Dublin.
Among those present were Friar James McCurry, the Minister Provincial of St. Anthony Province, Friar Miljienko Hontic, the Assistant General for the Central European Conference (CEC), and Friar Jude Winkler, the Assistant General for the Conventual Franciscan Conference (CFC).

Conventual Franciscans

The friars spent these days preparing their four-year plan, which included considerations on vocations and formation, apostolates, fraternal life and finances and fund raising. The friars of the custody also spoke at length as to how they could continue their long standing commitment to the missions (both in terms of personnel and finances).

Although the custody is part of the CFC, it has long had contact with the CEC. Fr. Miljienko’s spoke of the recent assembly of the CEC at which Friar Peter Damian Massingill, the Custos of the custody, was present. Friar Miljienko invited the continued collaboration of the Bl. Agnellus Custody with the activities of the CEC.

The guardians for the various friaries and the directors of the various commissions were appointed by the Chapter. A number of important decisions concerning apostolates and formation were remanded to the various commissions and the Custodial Definitory for further study and eventual decision.


On September 9th, 2013, fr. James McCurry, the Minister Provincial of St. Anthony of Padua Province USA, decreed the establishment of the Provincial Custody of Bl Agnellus of Pisa in Great Britain and Ireland.


The Franciscan charism first arrived on these islands in 1224 with the mission of Bl Agnellus and his companions.  They soon founded friaries in Canterbury, the religious hub of the islands, in London, the financial hub of the islands, and Oxford, the academic hub of the islands.

Franciscans UK

The Franciscan Order was suppressed in the days of Henry VIII, and refounded in 1907.  In recent years, there has been a rebirth of hope for the future of the jurisdiction with the arrival of 12 new vocations.The first custodial chapter was held in Crew, England at a retreat house run by the OMI’s and it began the evening of September 9th.  Fr. Peter Damian Massingill was elected custos, fr. Jesmond Pawley his vicar, fr. Daniel Geary definitor and secretary, fr. Brendan Blundell and fr. Ciprian Budau definitors, and fr. David Blowey the custodial bursar.


The first part of the chapter concluded with a discussion of urgent matters including the approval of the custodial statutes.  The second part of the chapter will take place in Ireland, near Wexford, at the end of November.



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