This community of faith and service has a long history in the Diocese of Syracuse, New York, and in the life of the Franciscan Friars Conventual, founded by St. Francis of Assisi in 1209. The first Friars to arrive in the USA came from Germany and helped to establish the Order in this country and beyond its borders in Canada, Costa Rica and Brazil. The friars constructed St. Francis Friary, still adjoining Assumption Church, in 1859. The building served in the past as a novitiate, provincial headquarters, and residence for friars ministering in the area.
In 1998, in response to worsening conditions for the people of Syracuse’s North Side, Bishop James Moynihan asked the Franciscan Friars Conventual to intensify their presence in the diocese in order to address some of its growing problems. Today a large community of friars continues to minister in various capacities in the Diocese of Syracuse in collaboration with the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities as well as many dedicated lay men and women.
Founded in 1845, the original parish church of the Assumption was replaced by the current structure, built between 1865 and 1872 and dedicated on May 5, 1867. The church is host to daily and weekly liturgies and other special events reflecting the Franciscan tradition such as a Celebration of the Feast of Saint Francis, Blessing of Animals, a Living Nativity at Christmas and celebrations of other saints. Continuing its long tradition of worship and service, the Franciscan Church of the Assumption contributes to the spiritual and physical well-being of its members and the people of the North Side through the church’s outreach ministries.
Originally begun from the back door of the friary kitchen in the 1800s by the Sisters, Assumption Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen now has its own space and provides families with food parcels each month to meet their basic needs. On a daily basis the dedicated staff and volunteers offer a sandwich program that provides a bagged lunch to anyone who walks through the door. In the colder months, generous benefactors enable the Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen to provide hot, homemade soup on certain days of the week to help those in need face the long winters in Central New York. Numerous opportunities are provided for religious, educational, and other charitable groups to make sandwiches and serve the Pantry’s clients.
Franciscan Northside Ministries encompasses a wide range of services, including free health services, legal counseling and community building. Coffee and doughnuts on Tuesday mornings, pancake breakfasts provided by the Knights and Dames of Malta, and the summer Peace Camp for kids are just three of the special events that welcome adults and children in need.
The Franciscan Place at Destiny USA is a chapel and spiritual sanctuary for quiet reflection. For over a decade it has provided shoppers with a refuge from the mall’s fast-paced commercial atmosphere and reflects St. Francis’ presence in the marketplace. In addition to offering a limited selection of religious articles and books, The Franciscan Place also provides opportunities for faith formation in small-group gatherings and conferences. The gift shop offers religious articles and books for the CNY community which helps support the Chapel in the mall.