The FRANCISCAN COMMUNITY AND APOSTOLATE in Cleveland once encompassed a seminary and college, as well as monastic orders for men and women, a secular order for the laity, and parishes and schools. In 1879 Cleveland was established as the core of the Province of the Sacred Heart, which extended west to Platte City, NE, and from Superior, WI, to Memphis, TN. The Franciscans had been invited to Cleveland in 1869 by Cleveland's first bishop, Rt. Rev. AMADEUS RAPPE. Several fathers came from Saxony to erect a residence, later (1877) raised to the status of a convent. The Franciscans took over a small German parish, St. Bernard's, begun in 1855 in 2 rented rooms on E. 25th St. Within 2 years a magnificent Gothic structure replaced the frame church at E. 23rd and Woodland, which then became the parish hall. The church, often called "the cathedral of the East Side," was decorated with statues sent from Saxony; local friars carved the pulpit, high altars, and sacred picture frames.
The priests opened a college on the site in 1876 that enrolled about 70 students in the first years, but a shortage of teachers forced them to abandon the venture and transfer the students to Quincy College in Illinois. In 1906 the fathers were put in charge of ST. STANISLAUS CHURCH. In addition, they took on the chaplaincies of several area colleges and hospitals and became confessors to 23 religious orders.
In the Franciscan tradition, the priests and brothers, the First Order of St. Francis, were accompanied by a Second and Third Order, for women and the laity, respectively. A cloistered convent of the POOR CLARE (COLLETTINE) RELIGIOUS was established in 1877. The laity who belonged to the Tertiate, as the Third Order was called, were exhorted at monthly meetings to pray daily, visit the sick, and avoid occasions of sin. Since 1929 the Third Order has maintained a junior branch for men and women aged 14-35 that sponsors activities ranging from sports to music and drama. In 1986 the Tertiate, then called the Secular Order of St. Francis, had 6 chapters throughout Greater Cleveland.
Beginning in 1907, Franciscan priests received part of their training at the Seminary of Our Lady of the Angels on Rocky River Dr. Young priests came to the seminary for 3 years to study philosophy, between their novitiate and theological study. In 1960 Cleveland was made the center for philosophy studies for all Franciscan seminarians, and construction began on a seminary. However, before the opening, philosophy and novitiate studies were consolidated in Illinois, and all seminary activity ceased in Cleveland. The new facility at 3364 Rocky River Dr. was used as a center for pastoral theology for newly ordained priests, and briefly, in the 1970s, as a school for those studying to become Franciscan brothers.
The Franciscans pastored 4 other parishes: ST. JOSEPH, Our Lady of Angels at 3644 Rocky River Dr. (on the site of the seminary), St. Jude's at 4771 Richmond Rd., and St. Anthony of Padua at 6800 State Rd. in PARMA.