St. Anthony Campaign for Franciscans Downtown 

 Sisters and Brothers,

Images of St. Anthony of Padua usually include Anthony holding the child Jesus in one arm and a lily in his hand. Many images include a loaf of bread. The legend of bread and St. Anthony dates back to 1263, when a young child drowned near the construction site of what would eventually become the Basilica of St. Anthony, outside the city of Padua, Italy. The mother of the child frantically flooded heaven with pleas to St. Anthony to have her son’s life restored. The mother, in return, promised to serve and feed the poor.  Miraculously, the child revived and his mother kept her promise.  

 Throughout the centuries, individual people and charitable organizations began to follow the woman’s promise of serving and feeding the poor with bread and alms.  In the 1890’s, a charity was organized called, “St. Anthony’s Bread.”

On June 1, 2014, in the spirit of St. Anthony, Franciscan Friar, Fr. Placid Stroik, opened the doors to Franciscans Downtown, Stevens Point, Wisconsin. The mission of Franciscans Downtown is a ministry of presence, to every person who walks through the doors of this sacred place, every person has a story worthy to be told.  

Franciscans Downtown creates a welcoming community by sharing life stories, a safe place, reflection, quiet, and prayer. Franciscans Downtown strives to give witness to God’s active love in our chaotic world and “put on Franciscan habits” such as: compassionate service to the poor, hospitality, and caring conversation about our environment, stewardship, peace, justice, and reconciliation.

I cannot forget bread and Fr. Placid’s famous cookies.  For over 50 years, Fr. Placid has baked several types of homemade cookies for the friars and now to serve to the guests of Franciscans Downtown.

Let us sharpen our willingness to continue to share bread with the many people throughout our country and world who suddenly find themselves in need.

As we continue to confront the chaos caused by COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine, we can be inspired by the “Sign” of the multiplication of the loaves and fish in the Gospel of John, the life of the beloved, St. Anthony of Padua, and the generous response of others helping those in need. We are reminded to sharpen our awareness of the needs of others which urges us to be more generous and adventurous in serving those in need.

I invite you to honor St. Anthony by generously supporting our Franciscan Friars in their many ministries that are helping the poor, like Franciscans Downtown.

Your brother in Christ Jesus and St. Anthony,

Fr. James Gannon

Provincial Minister

P.S. Please join Fr. Jim Gannon for a special Mass on the feast of St. Anthony of Padua, June 13th, to pray for your special intentions and all those in our country that are suffering and in great need.


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