Our mission is not to any specific task or ministry; rather, our primary call or vocation is to be brothers – to each other, to those amongst whom we live and work and, indeed, to the whole of creation.
As Franciscans we are especially committed to live out the Church’s preferential option for the poor. In our Custody’s long history the Friars have endeavoured to care for the needy and the underdog, as in the 13th century when Friars came to the aid of persecuted Jews.
In those days the Friars were commonly called “Greyfriars” because of their undyed wool habits and were a familiar sight in many towns and cities throughout the land. (Even today in the popular imagination it is a Franciscan Friar in brown habit and white cord that represents a “monk”.)
With up to 58 friaries in the three Kingdoms of England, Scotland and Wales it was often the Friars who provided much needed social services to the impoverished urban populations as well as their spiritual care through preaching, the sacraments and hospitality.
Education and scholarship were important contributions of the medieval Greyfriars, and many of the brightest of them taught in the great universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Nowadays, our contribution is modest with the Franciscan International Study Centre in Canterbury providing facilities for adult Christian formation and training.
Five of the six fraternities serve the parishes in which they are located, and the Friars continue to reach out to the needy and the vulnerable amongst whom they live and work.