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The St. Maximilian Kolbe Secular Franciscan Order Fraternity is one of several Houston-based fraternities of the Secular Franciscan Order. 

We meet as a community on a monthly basis.  We pray, learn, and we work in the community in a variety of ministries.


Kolbe Project

In September 1989 at the height of the AIDS epidemic the Franciscan Friars of the St. John the Baptist Province sent Fr. Dennis Borca, O.F.M. and Br. Bob Hozie, O.F.M. to Houston to minister to the gay and lesbian community and those affected with HIV/AIDS. They set up a Franciscan Friary at 1508 Hyde Park, Houston, 77006, and began their ministry by establishing the Kolbe Project at the Friary.  The Kolbe Project served the gay and lesbian community and those affected by HIV/AIDS by providing spiritual direction/counseling, recovery counseling, support groups, retreats and spiritual renewal days, worship services, hospital/home visiting, adult education, workshops, reconciliation services, healing services, and memorial services and social gatherings. People of all faiths were welcomed to the services without charge.


Gradual emergence of the Maximilian Kolbe Secular Franciscan Fraternity

Because of the prayerful atmosphere of the Kolbe Project, in 1994, "four young men began a small prayer group at the Kolbe Project. Their purpose was to simply pray together for the friars and the Project. Their desire was to live in community and as it always does, community happened." (Letter 3/17/19[9]8 Jim McClendon) The idea of transforming the small prayer group into a Secular Franciscan fraternity slowly began to take shape. The Friars approached the Annunciation Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Fraternity to discuss this idea. The Annunciation SFO Fraternity agreed and seven Annunciation SFO members (Dianne & Andy Martingano, Marguerite Abney, John Nottingham, Rachel Persicano, Mary Fleece and Jo Lovens) began visiting the emerging Kolbe fraternity to help begin the process.

On January 28, 1997 the following people were elected as the first Council for the emerging fraternity:

Minister:  Jim McClendon

Vice Minister:  Joaquin Correa

Secretary:  Dianne Martingano

Treasurer:  Andrew Martingano

Director of Formation:  Marguerite Abney

The first Spiritual Assistant was Fr. Loren, O.F.M.; when he was transferred to Louisiana, Br. Bob Hozie became the Spiritual Assistant.


In the beginning fraternity meetings took place at the Franciscan Friary at 1508 Hyde Park, Houston, 77006, but in September 1997 a decision was to made to move the fraternity meetings away from the Franciscan Friary to a house at 1030 Heights Blvd where the Kolbe Project had its offices.


At this new location three new members, Adele Brodginski, Natalia Restrepo and David Schubert, were professed. Marguerite Abney took charge of ongoing formation of professed members; Rachel Persicano directed the newcomers.

The fraternity was canonically established on March 4, 2001 with Mass at All Saints Church in Houston.

Early Ministries of Kolbe Fraternity

  1. During the time the Kolbe Fraternity was holding its meetings at the Kolbe Project on Heights Blvd, the fraternity members were actively engaged in the Kolbe Project's ROSE Ministry in which every Saturday a fraternity member would visit the hospital rooms of all the AIDS patients in a particular hospital and deliver a vase containing a single red rose. Depending on the number of patients the time required in the hospital was usually about an hour, at most two hours. Often the patients were very sick and asleep. In that case the fraternity member would simply leave the vase on the cart next to his bed with a small card from the Kolbe Project. If the patient was awake, the volunteer would simply say she had a rose for him from the Kolbe Project and we were praying for him. If the patient indicated he/she wanted to talk, we would visit. Most of the time the patient did not want to talk, so we simply said God Bless You and left.

  2. Some members also made beautiful children's blankets and delivered them to parents of children with HIV/AIDS and other children in the hospital.

  3. Other members (Jim McClendon, Rachel Persicano, and David Schubert) joined the members of Annunciation Fraternity (Tim Lamb, George Nolan, Jo Lovens, and later Ann Daniels and Leda Goodwin) of Annunciation Fraternity in the Prison Ministry at Ellis Unit at Huntsville, which ministered to inmates who were undergoing formation to become Secular Franciscans. Currently Maximilian Kolbe Fraternity is the only Houston Fraternity serving those in Ellis by  providing a Communion Service,  sharing the Gospel and facilitating  a small group of approximately 25 men in their faith formation.

Moving from Kolbe Project to St Jerome's Catholic Church

Sadly, Jim McClendon, the first Minster of the Kolbe Secular Franciscan Fraternity died on February 3, 2004. Shortly after that date the Kolbe Fraternity moved from the Kolbe Project location on Heights Blvd to St Jerome's Catholic Church on Kempwood Dr. The reason for the move was that the Kolbe Project was closing permanently due to financial reasons. As strange as it may seem, part of the reason for the financial problems of the Kolbe Project was the success of the new antiviral AIDS medication. The medicine was so good that most of the HIV positive patients did not develop full blown AIDS and so did not require hospitalization. This became clear to the volunteers involved in the ROSE ministry since many Saturdays there were no AIDS patients in the hospital to receive roses. As a result, the Kolbe Project was receiving much fewer calls for help and much fewer visitors. One of the major foundations which helped the Kolbe Project stay afloat financially withdrew its support as it felt it could use its funds more effectively elsewhere.  Several members of our fraternity were parishioners at St. Jerome's in Houston where we were warmly welcomed by the pastor.  Our fraternity remains there to this day.

On the 16th anniversary of our fraternity a member donated a fraternity banner depicting our namesake, St. Maximilian Kolbe.  This banner was created from the icon written by Robert Lentz OFM and installed behind the alter at the All Saints Catholic Church.

Other Ministries of the Kolbe Secular Franciscans Fraternity

Over the years the Kolbe Fraternity has been involved in various ministries, some of which lasted only a few months.

  1. Inter-Faith Ministries - Home visits of disabled patients.  It was a very worthwhile ministry and we engaged in this for several months, but then discontinued it because of travel and time difficulties of fraternity members.

  2. Westside Homeless Partnership.  Since the location of this group was only a half mile from St Jerome's it was easier for the fraternity members to volunteer for this ministry which we did for several months. However, Council made the decision to concentrate our efforts instead toward helping St Jerome's food pantry run by the St Vincent de Paul Association.

  3. Food Pantry at St Jerome's (St Vincent de Paul Association)

  4. Diocesan Seaman's Center at Galveston.  This is a fun and community building ministry in which each Christmas the individual fraternity members prepare a Christmas Gift shoeboxes filled with items seaman enjoy such as toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, socks, shampoo, soap, comb, nail clippers, writing paper, envelopes, pens, chap stick, band aids, shoe laces, razors, and shaving cream.

  5. Caritas Day. We have begun participating at the Co-Cathedral on their annual Caritas Day. Projects we have completed have been meals packaged for distribution in Africa; and Bean Soup bags. These have allowed us to work together and serve others while fraternity members and their families have come together on this.

  6. The Kolbe fraternity continues to seek new opportunities to minster to people and encourages each individual fraternity member to make ministry to others in the spirit of St. Francis a part of their daily life.

Chronological order of Ministers of Kolbe Fraternity (without dates)

  1. Jim McClendon 2001 - 2004

  2. David Schubert (He was vice minister, but became acting Minister when Jim died in 2004)

  3. Natalia Restrepo

  4. David Schubert (He was vice minister, but became acting Minister when Natalia resigned due to work)

  5. Rachel Persicano

  6. Karen Parsons 2011 – 2015

  7. Michael Patrick Freeman 2015 – 2021

  8. Alan Allen 2021 - present

Chronological order of Formation Directors of Kolbe Fraternity (without dates)

  1. Marguerite Abney 2001 - 2004 

  2. Rachel Persicano

  3. Robert Trahan

  4. Karin Boeringa

  5. Dora Freeman 2011 – 2015

  6. Delores Lemp 2015 – 2017

  7. Dora Freeman 2017 - 2021

  8. Cindy Borgerding 2021 - present

Chronological order of Spiritual Assistants of Kolbe Fraternity (without dates)

  1. Father Loren, OFM

  2. Brother Bob Hozie, OFM

  3. Father Page Polk, OFM

  4. Father Mike Van Cleve 2015- present

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