A missionary spirit is in the essence of all Franciscans who follow in St Francis' preaching style, outreach and charism. Spreading and living the message of the Gospel saw him travel to "far off lands" - Morocco, the Holy Land and many parts of Europe.

The Holy Spirit Province owes its existence to missionary enthusiasm: friars who responded to the needs of Catholics in the colonies. Our first official presence in Australia as a community of friars was on the basis of a Mission, friars who had been sent from Ireland.

One of the early undertakings of the newly created Holy Spirit Province was to send a band of missionaries to New Guinea in 1946. Their efforts eventually contributed to the establishment of the Diocese of Aitape in 1966 and the Custody of St Francis in 1985.

Four friars (Ignatius Doggett, William Rowell, Brian Barnes, Austen Crapp) were successively appointed as Bishop of Aitape until 2009 when an indigenous cleric was appointed. Australian friars remain active in the region, working alongside local people, other Orders and lay missionaries in support of education, health and welfare services.

 

This missionary work has been underpinned by the Franciscan Missionary Union (FMU), a body which raises funds and other resources to support the work of the friars in Papua New Guinea and in other regions where Franciscans undertake missionary work.

The FMU Provincial Director, Friar Norbert Pittorino, coordinates this work and publishes a regular newsletter which provides more information about the efforts of the Franciscan Missionary Union and of  friars working in the missions. The newsletter is available by email fmu@franciscans.org.au