St. Francis, Brothers of the Poor of
ST. FRANCIS, BROTHERS OF THE POOR OF
(CFP, Official Catholic Directory, #0460); originally called the Poor Brothers of St. Francis Seraph. It is a pontifical society of lay brothers originally founded to minister to the spiritual and educational needs of underprivileged boys. The congregation was founded Christmas Eve 1857, at Aix-la-Chapelle, Germany, by Johannes Hoever (1816–64). When Bismarck, in 1875, expelled religious from Prussian territory, the young community reestablished its motherhouse at Bleyerheide, Holland. After 1888 the brothers were allowed to return to Prussia, where several foundations were made. In July 1868, at the invitation of John Baptist Purcell, Archbishop of Cincinnati, OH, the brothers opened St. Anthony Home for poor boys in Cincinnati. On Sept. 17, 1871, they inaugurated a U.S. province, dedicated to St. Joseph, with headquarters at Mt. Alverno on the Ohio River beyond the western limits of Cincinnati. Here, too, was opened a Protectory for Boys, an institution where needy, orphaned, and delinquent boys were given a grade school education and trained in various trades. Later, the brothers assumed the direction of similar institutions for boys in Cold Springs, KY; Columbus, OH; Detroit, MI; and Danville, NJ. Lack of vocations and of endowment forced the brothers to relinquish many of these institutions. Since 1921 the brothers have directed the Morris School, a boarding school for boys in Searcy, AR.
In the U.S., the brothers are principally engaged in academic education at all levels, the care of and education of neglected youth, AIDS ministry, prison ministry, counseling, youth ministry, group homes, and residential facilities for the aged and retired clergy. The U.S. provincialate (Province of St. Joseph) is located in Burlington, IA; the generalate is in Aachen, Germany.
Bibliography: h. schiffers, Johannes Höver (Freiburg 1930).