The Story and History of the 
                                            Companion of Francis and Clare

    The Fraternity dates its origin to 1994 when a Franciscan Friar, Andre Cirino, OFM, visited Francis of Assisi Church in Rocky Mount, Virginia and gave a one-week retreat on the “Spirituality of Saint Francis.”  Sister Fidelis, OSF, who was at that time, Pastoral Coordinator, initiated this retreat.  It was here that the idea germinated to start a Secular Franciscan Fraternity in Southwest Virginia.

    Tom and Marianne Boyle were both motivated to become seculars themselves, but were unable to find a fraternity near them.  The closest fraternities in the Saint Margaret of Cortona Region were at Virginia Beach and Arlington, Virginia.  After much prayer and investigation, it became evident that the closest fraternity opportunity to Rocky Mount was in Greensboro, North Carolina, which, however, was not part of the Saint Margaret of Cortona Region. 

    Greensboro inquirers were starting their fraternity, and they welcomed Tom and Marianne Boyle into their profession class.  Their original instructor and spiritual advisor for these candidates was Father Louis Canino, OFM.  He presided at the profession ceremony for Tom and Marianne in May 1996.  They became part of the Franciscan Family of Greensboro Fraternity.

    Shortly thereafter, the Boyles made a pilgrimage to Assisi with Father Cirino.  It was decided that they would attempt to start a new fraternity in Rocky Mount at Francis of Assisi Church.  The core group included Sister Fidelis, Tom and Marianne Boyle and two long professed Franciscans, Dot Scank, SFO of Rocky Mount and Jerry Webber, SFO of Roanoke.

    In the autumn of 1996, a letter was sent to all surrounding churches, announcing the first Franciscan Secular Information meeting.  About fifty interested Catholics assembled and they were briefed by Anne Coiro, SFO, the Regional Minister of Margaret of Cortona Region.  Anne explained Franciscan spirituality, the life of a Franciscan Secular and what was required to become a member the Secular Franciscan Order.

    Following Anne Coiro’s SFO introduction, fifteen participated in the first inquiry session.  Fourteen became candidates at the Rite of Admission on June 22, 1997.  They included:  Tots Collins; Ted Crocker; Tom Fame; Jean Forrest; Cathy Griffin; Joan Kahwajy-Anderson; Glenn Kituskie; Joe Lamastro; Eileen Lamonthe; Dan Lonnquist; Lynne Lonnquist and Millie Swanwick.  Thirteen made perpetual profession into the newly developed Fraternity on June 21, 1998.  Dan Lonnquist made temporary profession for one year to further discern his vocation.  The following year Dan made perpetual profession.  Both ceremonies were presided over by Tom Boyle, SFO, temporary minister and Father Louis Canino, OFM, of Greensboro, North Carolina.

    Three additional professed Seculars, Joan Jennings, SFO, Barney Jennings, SFO of Hillsville, Virginia and Beverley Dubelle, SFO of Francis of Assisi Church, joined the Fraternity.  The Fraternity held its’ first weekend retreat in March of 1998 which was conducted by Father Andre Cirino, OFM.
    The Fraternity began a second formation group in the autumn of 1998.  Nine more candidates took part in the Rite of Admission on October 24, 1999.  Seven of these were professed on May 20, 2001: including Russ Beimler, SFO; Joan Beimler, SFO; Gary Cook, SFO; Marsha Dubose, SFO Vicki Hubbard, SFO, Patricia Mead, SFO and Marty White, SFO.


    The name chosen for the fraternity was the result of many months of prayer and thought.  The members considered themselves “FrancisClarian,” active and contemplative, thus of Francis and Clare.  Companions came from bread - bread for the journey and bread of the Eucharist.


    May 20, 2001 was the official date for the Canonical Establishment of the Companions of Francis and Clare Fraternity.  Canonical Establishment was facilitated by Anne Coiro, SFO, Saint Margaret of Cortona Regional Minister.  Tom Fame, SFO was elected Minister of the Companions of Francis and Clare.  The Fraternity has since had a number of Profession Ceremonies . 

    Individuals who have been professed into the Companions of Francis and Clare Fraternity since canonical establishment are:

May 23, 2004
    Mary Catherine Bibro, SFO; Paul Buckman, SFO; Kathy Crone, SFO; Don Crone, SFO; Mary Fitzgerald, SFO; Carol King, SFO; Ann Mayo, SFO; Rich Regan, SFO; and Anne Kituskie, SFO.  Maggie Davies and Lynn Regan made temporary profession that year in order to continue their discernment for one more year.  They were both perpetually professed the following year (2005).

May 20, 2007
    Eileen Highberger, SFO; Deborah Martin, SFO; Taft Martin, SFO; Suzanne Tardif, SFO and Jane Snyder, SFO.

Late 2008
    In the month of November 2008 it was announced that a new "cell" of this Fraternity was established in
Abingdon, VA under the guidance of Tom and Marianne Boyle

May 15, 2011
    Mary Jane Addison, SFO, Elaine Brockman, SFO; Carole Forbes, SFO; SFO; Claire Ickes, SFO; Fred Ickes, SFO;
Florence Quinn, SFO; and Peggy Sarsfield, SFO.

In order to better align the Secular Franciscans with all other Franciscans, it was determined that professed seculars

would adopt the designation of OFS (ordus franciscanis secularis) rather than the previously used  SFO.

May 20, 2012
    Abingdon Cell: Darlene Landry, OFS; Mary Ellen Watts, OFS; Randy Watts, OFS

May 15, 2015                                                                                                                                                                                  Joseph Givens, OFS; Ann Henry, OFS; Angela Kauffman, OFS; David Kauffman, OFS; Nelly Shelton, OFS;
Aja Siobhan, OFS; Christine Young, OFS and

    Abingdon Cell: John Davis, OFS; Rosalie Fratto, OFS; Ponce Reyes, OFS

Updated: March 1, 2018