Last Updated: 05/12/2020 


Frequently Asked Questions




“Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” 
― St. Francis Of Assisi

The Decision by Holy Name Province (HNP)

“Praise and bless my Lord and give thanks to him and serve him with great humility.”
– St. Francis of Assisi


The Decision by Holy Name Province (HNP)

On January 3, 2020, HNP decided to withdraw the Franciscan Friars from St. Francis of Assisi Raleigh, NC. 

 The announcement letter from Holy Name Province.

What was announced by HNP on Friday Jan 3, 2020?

Due to the diminishing numbers of friars, the Franciscan Friars of HNP will no longer be able to serve The Catholic Community of St Francis of Assisi, Raleigh (SFA).Bishop Zarama will appoint new pastoral leadership for the parish.

Can you explain the decision process?

HNP dedicated the past two years to research and discern how many ministry locations they could realistically serve in 2020 and beyond.  HNP asked each Fraternity in Ministry (FIM), including The Catholic Community of St Francis of Assisi, to provide a Fraternal Ecology Report to HNP leadership.  HNP also visited each FIM to review these reports.  More about the decision process: Click Here  

Is there a chance HNP will change this decision?

No, HNP has stated the decision is final.

If I stop giving, will they listen?
Withholding your offertory contributions will not impact HNP at all. Your offertory contribution supports our St. Francis of Assisi community and the mission of our parish. Please see our Annual Report to understand exactly how your gifts are used for our parish community and our wider community.

Why is HNP withdrawing from St Francis of Assisi, Raleigh?

HNP finds it necessary to withdraw from approximately 1/3 of their ministry sites.  We understand and share your desire to understand specifically why this parish in particular was selected.  We do not currently have these specifics to share.  If we gain additional details on the decision rationale for our parish, we will share them.

Who else was affected by this HNP Fraternal Ecology Process?

Please refer to the HNP News Release.

Our Friars

At all times and seasons, in every country and place, every day and all day, we must have a true and humble faith, and keep him in our hearts, where we must love, honor, adore, serve, praise and bless, glorify and acclaim, magnify and thank, the most high supreme and eternal God.
– St Francis of Assisi


How are the Friars doing?

Our Friars as just as surprised as we are. They have made many strong relationships in their time here at St. Francis and will miss this dynamic community. They are grateful for all the support you have shown and continue to show for them personally and for their mission.

Why do the Friars have to leave?

The Franciscan charism calls the friars to live and minister as brothers in community.

From the HNP announcement:

Our fraternal life together is a central priority for us – it is the core component of who we are and profess to be. With our diminished numbers, it is impossible for us to maintain all of our current ministerial commitments while also maintaining fraternities composed of several friars living in community. And as Franciscans we are called to imitate the itinerancy of Jesus who moved throughout the towns of his native land, never settling forever in one location. Thus Francis, in his Later Rule, admonished the friars,

“Let the brothers not make anything their own, neither house, nor place, nor anything at all. [Live] as pilgrims and strangers in this world, serving the Lord in poverty and humility… ” (Later Rule,6)

How did the Friars originally come to St Francis?

St Francis of Assisi began as a parish in 1982 when parishioners invited Bishop Joseph Gossman to a potluck dinner and convinced him a parish was needed in this area. Similarly, when our first pastor, a Jesuit, left in 1986, a team of parishioners convinced HNP and the Diocese of Raleigh that St. Francis of Assisi would be a good fit for Franciscan ministry.  We have always had strong lay empowerment. This is what attracted the friars.

Where will the Friars go next?

The friars will not know their next assignment until their Chapter meeting in June of 2020.   In 2023, All US Franciscan orders will merge into one order.  Future assignments will be determined by the new Franciscan order at that time.  

When will the Friars be leaving?

We expect the friars to be at St. Francis until an orderly transition can take place by Septemeber 1, 2020.

The Future of The Catholic Community of St Francis of Assisi

May your listening ear, your open heart, your willingness to live the Gospel be a new beginning for us all.  May God in His wisdom touch all our hearts. 
 – David McBriar, Franciscan Pastor at St. Francis of Assisi

Will there be any changes to the name(s) of our parish or the schools since the Friars will no longer be at St. Francis?

The Parish was named for our patron, St. Francis of Assisi, prior to the Franciscan Friars serving here.  There will be no change to any names.

Will we still be Franciscan?

Our parishioners have been formed by the Franciscans for our patron, St. Francis of Assisi. We carry those values and that mission with us.  That will not change.


Our parish mission states that we are:

Inspired by our patron Francis of Assisi,
we seek to proclaim the reign of God by growing in Holiness
through our experience of Christ in word, sacrament and one another,
offering Hope to those who hunger for human dignity, and
extending Hospitality to all.

What about the marginalized – will all still be welcomed at St. Francis?

We are all children of God. All are welcome.

The Catholic Community of St Francis of Assisi remains committed to work toward the inclusion of all. 

We have not only lived this core value since the inception of our parish, which was years prior to Holy Name Province joining us (see the inspirational story of our Parish History), we champion this.  It has been and will continue to be deeply embedded in our DNA.

 “For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all people” ~ Isaiah 56:7
– The Cornerstone of The Catholic Community of St Francis of Assisi

We have a niche in the Columbarium. What will happen to it?

There will be no change to the Columbarium.

Who owns St. Francis of Assisi property?

As in all Catholic parishes, St. Francis of Assisi property is legally owned by Bishop Zarama of The Catholic Diocese of Raleigh. Day-to-day operations are administered by the Parish.

What about the Bishop? Does Bishop Zarama understand us? What is he like? Who is he going to appoint to us?

Does the Bishop understand the culture of St. Francis of Assisi?

Bishop Zarama appreciates and loves the vision of our Parish and identifies with the work we do.  

Does the Bishop know about us?

The Diocese does know that our parish is one of the largest in the Diocese and TFS is the largest school in the Diocese. The Bishop does understand the unique community of St Francis of Assisi.  

What is the Bishop like? What does the Bishop preach? 

If you are not yet familiar with Bishop Zarama, you will find that he preaches unconditional love and joy at every opportunity.  He has a heart like Francis.  Please listen to a recent homily from Bishop Zarama to understand more about him.

Who is he going to appoint to us?

The Diocese of Raleigh is currently divided into eight deaneries with a total of 95 parishes and missions and five centers for campus ministry. The Diocese is served by 113 active Diocesan and Religious Order Priests serving 222, 671 registered Catholics.  The terms for Diocesan priest is typically 6 years.  The Bishop may look within or outside the Diocese for priests to serve in his parishes.  

On May 8, 2020, Bishop Zarama announced the appointment of our new pastor, Rev. Msgr Michael Clay.  Please read.


What’s Next?

Life is a journey.  When we stop, things don’t go right.
– Pope Francis

What is the process from this point forward? What is the timeline?

A transition team has been created to lead our community through the transition process.  HNP will tell the Friars by the end of June their new assignment with the month of August reserved for actual moving. 

Fr. Steve Patti and Fr Jim Sabak met with the Bishop to understand the appointment process of the Diocese.  In February, all open positions of the Diocese are made known to all priests of the Diocese.  During the spring, the Priests Council and the Bishop will discern priest assignments and identify appointments.        

 On May 11, 2020, the Diocese of Raleigh made the following announcements of priestly appointments.  Please read.

What can I do to help the transition process?

Pray  for Bishop, transition team, community, friars, vocations, other locations going through the process.

    Join in Prayer: See our Transitions Prayer Webpage for more ways on how to pray in this time of transition.

 Words of prayer (From a SFA parishioner):  
“While sitting with the news in prayer, going back and forth between heartbroken and hopeful, remembering that the only reason I am still Catholic today is because of this church, this community, Franciscan Spirituality, the openness and love of the Friars…but I realized I was looking at this whole situation through a lens of fear. When I took a minute to look through the lens of love, I was filled with hope. The thing I heard loud and clear from God was, Don’t be afraid!

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7

 When I looked on with fear, all I felt was dread and sadness. When I went to God with thanksgiving for all that this community has been to me and prayed for peace in my heart about the transition I realized that God is bigger than all my fear. God is bigger than the Friars. God’s understanding is beyond our understanding and God can bring hope and peace even in the dread and sadness. God is in each and every one of us. The Franciscan Spirit/Spirituality lives in each of us. The Friars are amazing and I love them dearly and I will miss them like crazy. AND God is bigger than the loss of the Friars. The peace of God transcends all understanding. The Franciscan Spirit will live on in this community.”
– Jessica  Kelly

 Stay Connected 

The transition team will create opportunities to listen and to gather feedback. Your input is wanted.  Your gifts are needed.  Your skills and talents will help.  While we work on the process, you are welcome to express your thoughts through our direct email address:  Watch our Transitions Webpage for all the current updates.

 Update your contact information in our parish database so you will receive communications.  Click Here to access the parish database.


How can I be a part of ensuring that the mission and vision of this parish and schools continues in the spirit of our patron, St. Francis of Assisi?

 It is important for us to remember that the Church is the Body of Christ, the people of God. The Church does not reside in a building, or in a priest, or in a group of friars, but in our community of believers who gather in faith week after week to celebrate what we believe. We come together as the Body of Christ, to receive the Body of Christ, so we can go forth and be the Body of Christ.
– Jennifer Fidduci

 Our parish mission states that we are:

 Inspired by our patron Francis of Assisi,
we seek to proclaim the reign of God by growing in Holiness
through our experience of Christ in word, sacrament and one another,
offering Hope to those who hunger for human dignity, and
extending Hospitality to all.

 Being inspired by our patron is in our community’s DNA.  It is who we are, and nothing will ever be able to erase that. St. Francis of Assisi parish is our home, our community, and it is our call to continue to carry the Franciscan spirituality out into our community and our world, regardless of who serves our community.   


Be present. 

 At Mass. In Faith. In Service.  

Get Involved. 

It is up to us.  See Bulletin and Website “Get Involved” sections for all the ways for you to:  

 Go Forth. 

Go Forth and be the Body of Christ.  Share it with everyone you meet.  Invite others.  Be the face that welcomes all.                            


How can I show my gratitude for the Friars?

Be grateful to our Friars. They need our compassion and support as they navigate what this means for them and all of us who rely on them. Please remind them of all the wonderful things they have done and be grateful we’ve had the privilege of their presence and guidance.
 – Sarah Hoffman 

Watch our Transitions webpage for opportunities during the transition process to express our gratefulness.  An event planning has been assembled to identify parish-wide opportunities for us to express our gratitude.


 “We must consider the immense gifts that God has bestowed on us, especially those he has seen fit to work in us through his beloved servant, our blessed…Francis.”
– Clare of Assisi

Why haven’t I received any of the email communications? What to do to ensure we have your correct information

There are a number of possible reasons you may not have received an e-mail from St. Francis:

  1. Your email provided may have automatically routed the email to your junk or promotions folders, so please check there first.
  2. If, at any point, you have opted out of receiving emails from St. Francis, you would not have received this communication.  Please complete the Subscribe Form to resubscribe to receive emails from St Francis.
  3. We may not have your email address in our parish database.  Please update the parish database.  Click here.
  4. If you need help updating your contact information, Please contact Toni Hammes ( to ensure the we have your current information.
What is the communication process?

Transparency – St. Francis leadership team and transition team are committed to an open communication process. We will be working on the transition and learning things on a daily basis and are committed to keeping parishioners, staff, and parents updated.  However, during a time of transition, false information can circulate. 

Please, if you don’t hear something directly from an official St. Francis source, it’s just a rumor.    

I would like to talk to someone….

I want to share my thoughts/ask questions/give suggestions about this transition process.

The transition team will create opportunities to listen and to gather feedback. Your input is wanted. While we work on the process, you are welcome to express your thoughts through our direct email address:

I need help processing this information.

If you would like to speak with someone, please contact Kathleen Owen at owen@stfrancisraleigh.orgor 919.847.8205 x241


Other Resources

Let the Church always be a place of mercy and hope, where everyone is welcomed, loved and forgiven.
– Pope Francis

 “For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all people” ~ Isaiah 56:7
– The Cornerstone of The Catholic Community of St Francis of Assisi

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