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GENERAL..imagesblu_gry.gif (541 bytes) St. Bernardine
 Who is St.       Bernardine

Biography of
St. Bernardine
of Siena


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St. Bernadine Monastery - Motherhouse

The Franciscan Friars, TOR
Province of the Immaculate Conception, USA

P.O. Box 139 - Hollidaysburg, PA 16648-0139

( Click on thumbnails to enlarge pictures )



 Highland_Hall_Seminary       St. Francis & Wolf

Francis Stained Glass Chapel

The Beginnings

In the early 1920's much thought was given to the juridic status of their little fraternity by the early friars. A Commissariate, by its nature, is a temporary and provisional thing, about the middle of the decade, it was decided to raise it to the status of a Province of the Order. With the concurrence of all the friars, a formal request was sent to the General Curia for the elevation of the Commissariate into a Province.

On July 28th, 1925, the Holy Father, Pius XI, granted the Minister General, Fr. Arnaldo Rigo, the faculty to act favorably on the petition. The necessary formalities were completed and the decree of erection of the Province of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary was drawn up on August 16, 1925 and read publicly at a meeting in the Friary of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Altoona on August 25, 1925. Representing the Minister General at this ceremony and during the subsequent Provincial Congregation, our first, was the Very Rev. Bernardine Russo. The first Minister Provincial was the Very Rev. Jerome Zazzara who had been serving as the Commissary since 1920.

The new Province promptly applied for legal status through its incorporation by civil law in the State of Pennsylvania at the local county courthouse. The next move was to build a House of Formation on the tract of land at Hollidaysburg which they had purchased several years earlier. The Monastery building was erected and dedicated to St. Bernardine of Siena to honor .... it is said ... the patron saint of the Minister General's delegate, Fr. Bernardine Russo who had proved a wise and friendly advisor to the friars. It was a proud occasion for the friars of the new Province when, in the summer of 1928, Bishop McCort, in the presence of a large crowd of clergy and laity, blessed and laid the cornerstone of the Monastery building. The first class of candidates was accepted on October 17, 1929. This first group was composed of: John Flannelly, Paul Hatch, Louis Hileman and Cletus Adams. A fifth member of the group, Joseph Soltis, did not persevere.

The faculty of the Monastery school consisted of: Fr. Benignus Gallagher, Angelo Piacentini, Charles Smyth and Albert Petaccia, STD, a secular priest who gave his time and talents to the Province from 1929 until his death in 1949. Another friar who taught at the Monastery at that time was Fr. Anthony Bauza, of the Spanish Province, who taught at St. Francis College and came down from Loretto to give classes in Gregorian Chant.

The first Investiture Ceremony took place in the Monastery chapel on January 6, 1930 when Bros. John Flannelly and Paul Hatch received the holy habit of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis. Fr. Charles Smyth served as the first Master of Novices. One year later, the first Profession of Vows Ceremony was celebrated.

The essential elements were now in place in the Province: dedicated friars, an active and successful apostolate, and a House of Formation to receive new vocations.

Over these many years, St. Bernardine Monastery has served the Province as our Novitiate for the many men who have come to be Franciscan religious priests and brothers.

Our Novitiate and Formation Programs now take place in other areas of the country, but St. Bernardine Monastery continues to  serve the Province as our  Retirement Home for our elderly priest and brother friars.