The Precursor to Our Association
"For, enkindled by the fervour of his preaching, very many folk bound themselves by new rules of penitence, after the pattern received from the man of God, and that same servant of Christ ordained that their manner of living should be called the Order of the Brethren of Penitence. Of a truth, even as the way of penitence is known to be common unto all that strive after heaven, so it is noted of how much worth in the sight of God was this Order, embracing clerks and laymen, virgins, and married folk of either sex, by the many miracles wrought by some of its members.

"And there were maidens converted unto lifelong virginity, among whom that virgin dearest unto God, Clare, the first plant among them, like a snowy spring blossom breathed fragrance, and shone like a star exceeding bright. She is now glorified in heaven, and rightly honoured by the Church on earth, she that was the daughter in Christ of the holy Father Francis, the little poor one, and herself the Mother of the Poor Ladies."

[The Life of St. Francis, IV.6, St. Bonaventure]

The Founding of Our Association

The Association was born from the original Rule of the Third Order of St. Francis as contained in the Franciscan Omnibus of Sources and the resultant Stella Matutina movement in the Secular Franciscan Order in Minnesota in the late 1980's under the guidance of Father Valerius Messerich, O.F.M.. The Association was formally recognized on October 22, 1996 in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis by the blessing, encouragement and support of Archbishop Harry J. Flynn. Thereafter, the founding members of the Association formalized themselves as Morning Star Chapter, the inaugural Head Chapter of the Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis.

Archbishop Flynn further honored the Association by accepting the first formal professions of members who completed formation in Minnesota in 2003. Since then, both the Association and its Rule of life have been informally approved by several bishops of the Roman Catholic Church in various dioceses across the United States and other countries. Every bishop who has been introduced to the Brothers and Sisters of Penance has supported the movement as a definitive return to the Gospel life.

The Association Today

In less than two decades, the Association has grown immensely, first throughout the United States, and eventually overseas. When Archbishop Flynn passed on in 2019, his successor Archbishop Bernard Hebda retained the Association. To date, the Brothers and Sisters of Penance continues to be retained by Archbishop Hebda, although in late 2021, headquarters moved from Morning Star Chapter to St. Anthony of Padua Chapter in San Diego, California.