Immaculate Conception Fraternity serves the Mishawaka/South Bend Indiana area, and is in the Our Lady of Indiana Regional Fraternity of the National Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order-USA
The Secular Franciscan Order belongs to the Franciscan Family and is “formed by the organic union of all the Catholic fraternities, whose members, moved by the Holy Spirit, commit themselves through profession to live the Gospel after the manner of St. Francis in their secular state following the Rule approved by the Church” (Const. 1,3).
If you are interested in learning more about Franciscan spirituality, or possibly find yourself discerning a call to the Secular Franciscan Order, please join us. Inquiry is open to all Catholic men and women not members of another religious order or secular order and 18 years or older. Candidates must be practicing Catholics faithful to the teachings of the Church and loyal to the Apostolic See.
In the fall of 1945, under the guidance of Fr. C.A. Guelzer, the new pastor at St. Joseph Church in Mishawaka, Indiana, a new fraternity in the Secular Franciscan Order began meeting.
Magdelina Jacobs, Barbara Schumacher, Elizabeth Kunkel and Bernadette Lenhard were the first members of the new fraternity. They had transferred from the St. Matthew Fraternity of South Bend, Indiana. Elizabeth Kunkel was the first prefect.
The Immaculate Conception Fraternity was canonically established on June 11, 1958 in Mishawaka, Indiana.
From 1945 to 1963, membership grew until it reached 69 professed members. The Holy Spirit was indeed working! Alden Lenhard was prefect with Fr. Duane Stengel serving as Spiritual Director. Members faithfully attended the Fraternity meetings for spiritual renewal. These meetings were held in church and started with benediction, followed by a spiritual lesson by the Spiritual Director and ending with discussion.
The history of the Fraternity is intertwined with the history of the National Organization of the Third Order of St. Francis in the United States. With the approval of a new Rule of Life in 1990, as elsewhere in the world, the fraternities were reorganized as an independent order; The National Fraternity of the United States was formed and divided into thirty regions. The current National Minister (2009) is Deacon Tom Bello, OFS. Twenty-two fraternities in Indiana – including Immaculate Conception Fraternity – now formed the Regional Fraternity of Our Lady of Indiana.
After the Vatican Council of the 60’s, prospective members became interested in the cursillo and charismatic movements. Membership dwindled, due to deaths and other causes.
Upon the death of Alden Lenhard in 1974, John Walker became prefect. In 1975, Bernadette Lenhard was elected prefect with Edith Bauerlein as secretary and Marie Arndt as treasurer. The Fraternity held together and met monthly at Mount Alverno, the motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration in Mishawaka. The Fraternity has enjoyed a very strong relationship with the Convent, with several of the Sisters continuing to provide guidance in the role of the Spiritual Assistant for the Fraternity.
1984, Fred Kagel became prefect. A renewal started. The Fraternity had healthy growth under his able direction. In 1991, he resigned due to health problems. Camy George became acting prefect and in 1991 was elected to the office.
Since 1991, the Fraternity has added 49 professed members. Once again, the Holy Spirit is effecting a renewal in the Fraternity, and as of August 2014, there are more than twenty people in formation. The Fraternity represents twenty-two parishes in the Ft. Wayne-South Bend Diocese. The members of the Fraternity serve in various parish organizations as well as in the larger community. Our common apostolate is “Service – in the parish and in the world.”
We meet at:
Our meeting dates are the Third Saturday of the Month at 8:00 am
We meet in the auditorium or the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration Convent located at
1515 W. Dragoon Trail
Mishawaka, Indiana 46544