Secular Franciscan Order
Holy Spirit Fraternity, Canberra A.C.T.
Early History
19 February 2002

This document seeks to answer questions received about the early history of the Fraternity.

When was the first Fraternity founded in your area?

By 1978, a group of Catholic lay people was meeting in Canberra convened by Stan Marris, who had knowledge of Franciscan Studies that he communicated through meetings and newsletters. The group was anxious to learn more about St Francis and his Third Order. The Fraternity was canonically established on 28 November 1981.

Who founded it and gave Spiritual Assistance?

Stan Marris founded the group and, in 1978, Fr Richard Roper ofm first provided Spiritual Assistance. Fr Joachim O'Brien also provided early Spiritual Assistance. Meetings were in the Presbytery at St Anthony's parish, Wanniassa and Fr Gerry Monaghan was supportive. In 1981 the FMM sisters offered Marymead as a meeting-place. By October 1983 Sr Margaret Illingworth fmm was Spiritual Assistant. Later Sr Chris Bartlett fmm and Sr Sheila Thompson fmm provided assistance. The FMM sisters left Canberra in September 1986. Archbishop Francis Carroll has always been supportive, including personally leading one of our annual Days of Reflection.

What early history can you give us?

In 1982 there was dissension in the Fraternity and National Council intervened. Peter Keogh, National President, led meetings in Canberra during 1983 and in August 1983 conducted a postal ballot for Fraternity President and Council. The ballot showed continuing division in the Fraternity and in October 1983 National Council appointed a Fraternity Council with Tony DiMichiel, who had been professed in Canberra on 13 March 1980, as President. This Council continued in office until 8 March 1985, when the Fraternity first elected its own Council with Tony DiMichiel returned as President.

During the 1980s most of the present practices of the Fraternity became established, including:

Newsletters were first issued by Stan Marris, then by Tony DiMichiel and Bill Hill. The present title, Canberra Franciscan, was introduced under the editorship of Hélène Anderson in January 1988.

Contact: Jack Smith: phone 61-2-62583824