As the friars were first arriving in Australia in the mid 1800s, the call for missionaries was also being made from across the Tasman Sea. A handful of mostly French and Italian - and a single Irish friar - answered the call.

Recruited by Bishop Pompallier in 1860 to replace the Marists, the friars - Domenico Galosi, Giuseppe Gregori, Francesco Delmonte, Francois Monvoisin, Egidio Baiardi and Sante Renzoni set to work with the fledgling European settlements around Auckland as missionaries among the Maori despite the ongoing warfare in this period.

Due to the limited number of friars - as was the case during the early years in Australia - they were unable to live in a community. However, while they were willing to live a common life, the then Bishop of Auckland Thomas Croke (1870-1873) would not allow them to do so and regretfully they were forced to withdraw from New Zealand in 1874.
 

  However, this was not the end of the endeavour. In 1939 a number of Australian friars from the newly established Holy Spirit Province came to New Zealand at the invitation of the then Archbishop of Auckland, James Liston, to establish a retreat centre in the Diocese. It was a new beginning, the return of the friars.

Officially opened in 1940, the Retreat Centre has thrived into a centre for all the churches, people of other faith backgrounds and non-profit community organisations. Such is its popularity, the expression "The Friary" means only one place in Auckland - St Francis Retreat Centre.

As well as the retreat centre ministry, friars assist in parish supply ministry, Marriage Tribunal and canon law advice, school chaplaincy, spiritual assistance to the Secular Franciscan Order and several other community activities. For more information visit: www.stfrancisretreatcentre.org.nz