The Venerable Anthony Margil OFM (1657 – 1726), a Spanish Franciscan, helped found many Franciscan Missions throughout Mexico, Central America, Louisiana and Texas (1683 – 1723) with San Jose Mission (1720) in San Antonio being the most famous among them. While there is no evidence of the presence of Tertiaries (Secular Franciscans) during those early mission years, the absence of such records does not negate the possibility. The last Franciscan of the OFM in Texas, Fr. Antonio Diaz de Leon was found shot dead in 1834 at Big Sandy Creek near Nacogdoches. In 1855 – 1858, there were five OFM Conventual Franciscans active in Texas. It was not until 1931 that the OFM Franciscans returned to San Antonio.
Yet Franciscan fraternities had begun to appear gradually around Texas as early as 1891: some were bonded to OFM Friars of Sacred Heart Province founded 1858 in the United States, and others were founded by OFM Franciscan Friars and Tetiaries from the Franciscan Province in Michoacan. Mexico. Early Fraternities in Texas included St. Bonaventure Fraternity in Muenster ( - 1891), Assumption Fraternity in Houston (1915), San Fernando (1928), St. Anthony (1929) and San Jose (1932) in San Antonio, St. Paschal Baylon Fraternity in Edinberg (1938) and St. Patrick Fraternity in Fort Worth (1939).
During the 1940s through to the 1970s more fraternities were established in Texas: but since the fraternities in San Antonio remained small, in 1958, Fr. Elias Koppert OFM proposed a Federation of Third Order Fraternities (earlier name of SFO) for St. Anthony, San Jose, and the two St. Joseph Fraternities of San Antonio to be known as the, St. Anthony Federation of the Third Order of St. Francis. San Fernando Fraternity, the only Spanish language fraternity, in San Antonio, was not included at the time.
Shortly after organization of this St. Anthony Federation, a Franciscan Tertiary Region Number 15 was established for fraternities bonded to OFM Sacred Heart: no records have been found of the activities of this Region during the years of 1958 – 1971. However, in March 1971, this same Region was reactivated, bylaws were adopted, and renamed officially the Franciscan Tertiary Region Venerable Antonio Margil, OFM under Sacred Heart Province (15). This Region covered all of south Texas, central Texas and as far north as the Texas-Oklahoma border although the local fraternities were bonded to different Friar Obediences. The Regional Prefect in 1971 was Miss Mary Beckfort TOF (Third Order Franciscan then now is OFS) and the Regional Director was Friar Lambert Leykam OFM.
This unifying movement of fraternities into Tertiary Provinces and Regions under the Friar Obediences had begun in the United States after the First General Congress of Franciscan Tertiaries in 1921, and these had federated into the North American Federation of the Third Order of St. Francis.
With the promulgation of the present Rule of 1978, Regionalization, the unification of all the local fraternities into Regions, within all 50 states began. The Regionalization began for us in Texas in the early 1990s and led to the successful canonical establishment of Los Tres Compañeros-The Three Campanions Region of the Secular Franciscan Order (67) on October 20, 1994.
Although no longer covering the entire state of Texas, for effective governance, a division of it’s extensive area formed the San Angelo Portion (northern), Leo Portion (central) and Rufino Portion (southern).
(Many thanks to Delia Banchs, OFS who has served as Regional Minister for Los Tres Compañeros Region from 2004 to 2010. The above article is just one of many informative writings she has shared with this region over the years and we look forward to her continued work as contributing editor to NAFRA's, TAU-USA Newsletter.)
Concerning Those Who Do Penance
All who love the Lord with their whole heart, with their whole soul and mind, with all their strength (cf. Mk 12:30), and love their neighbors as themselves (cf. Mt 22:39) and hate their bodies with their vices and sins, and receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and produce worthy fruits of penance.
Oh, how happy and blessed are these men and women when they do these things and persevere in doing them, because "the spirit of the Lord will rest upon them" (cf. Is 11:2) and he will make "his home and dwelling among them" (cf Jn 14:23), and they are the sons of the heavenly Father (cf. Mt 5:45), whose works they do, and they are the spouses, brothers, and mothers of our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Mt 12:50).
We are spouses, when by the Holy Spirit the faithful soul is united with our Lord Jesus Christ; we are brothers to him when we fulfill "the will of the Father who is in heaven" (Mt 12:50).
We are mothers, when we carry him in our heart and body (cf. 1 Cor 6:20) through divine love and a pure and sincere conscience; we give birth to him through a holy life which must give life to others by example (cf. Mt 5:16).
Oh, how glorious it is to have a great and holy Father in heaven! Oh, how glorious it is to have such a beautiful and admirable Spouse, the Holy Paraclete.
Oh, how glorious it is to have such a Brother and such a Son, loved, beloved, humble, peaceful, sweet, lovable, and desirable above all: Our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave up his life for his sheep (cf. Jn 10:15) and prayed to the Father saying:
"Oh, holy Father, protect them with your name (cf. Jn 17:11) whom you gave me out of the world. I entrusted to them the message you entrusted to me and they received it. They have known that in truth I came from you; they have believed that it was you who sent me. For these I pray, not for the world (cf. Jn 17:9). Bless and consecrate them, and I consecrate myself for their sakes. I do not pray for them alone; I pray also for those who will believe in me through their word (cf. Jn 17:20) that they may be holy by being one, as we are (cf. Jn 17:11). And I desire, Father, to have them in my company where I am to see this glory of mine in your kingdom" (cf. Jn 17:6-24).
(From Chapter One of the Rule)