Franciscan Friars To Conclude Service at St. Anthony Parish
By Penny Wiegert, Editor
May 5, 2022
ROCKFORD—Another page was turned in a long history at St. Anthony of Padua Parish on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 24.
Pastor of St. Anthony Parish, Father James Ciaramitaro  of the Conventual Franciscans of St. Bonaventure Province (OFM, Conv.,) announced after all Masses that his religious order would be concluding its service to the parish on July 1, and a diocesan priest would be assigned.
The announcement from Father Ciaramitaro, along with a letter from Bishop David Malloy, was also sent by mail to all parishioners of St. Anthony Parish.
“Our Franciscan leadership made this decision based on a lack of personnel. Not only are there fewer vocations today than in the past, but recently, two or our young newly ordained friars suddenly left us to be become priests of the Diocese of Phoenix. This unexpected turn of events has left us (the religious order) short-handed — so much so that we are also put in a position of having to leave Holy Family Parish in Peoria,” Father Ciaramitaro’s letter said. 
Father Ciaramitaro said he did what he could to prevent this decision. “I’ve no doubt that our parish and Holy Family in Peoria were selected for our departure because these have recently become one-priest parishes and our Franciscan form of life is better lived in a community of three or more friars,” he said.
Bishop Malloy wrote in his letter to St. Anthony parishioners that when the decision was announced to the Rockford Diocese from Very Rev. Michael Zielke, OFM, Conv., Minister Provincial of the St. Bonaventure Province, he “felt a sense of regret.” 
Bishop Malloy went on to write, “But that was followed by a prayer of gratitude to God. There comes moment in life, in work, in family where we must step back and be grateful for a job well done, even as we feel the sorrow of a moment of separation or change. I ask you to join me in offering thanks for just such a moment.”
Bishop Malloy announced in his letter he would be assigning a diocesan priest to St. Anthony Parish “with the coming spring appointments.” Many priest appointments and change of parish assignments are made as new priests are ordained each year for the diocese. 
Ordination in the Rockford Diocese this year takes place on June 4. Those appointments will be announced in parishes and in upcoming issues of The Observer.
“The goal,” Bishop Malloy wrote, “is that the pastoral service and excellence so well established by the Franciscans of St. Bonaventure Province will continue for you.”
“The main consolation in this sadness is that St. Anthony Parish will live on with all her rich and wonderful traditions,” Father Ciaramitaro said. 
He asked parishioners to continue to support the parish and the new pastor. “When he gets to know you, he will love you as much as we friars have for almost 90 years,” he continued. 
Father Ciaramitaro has been pastor of St. Anthony Parish since 2010. He is assisted in parish ministry by Brother James Dufresne, OFM., Conv. The religious order has staffed the parish for the past 89 years, coming to care for the parish in 1933 at the request of Bishop Edward Hoban. The parish was founded in 1909.  The two friars will return to the Provincial house in Chicago in July.
To read the full letters by Father Ciaramitaro and Bishop Malloy go to
Shop Religious items at HOLYART.COM