Father Pat Tuttle and the Franciscan friars will be leaving St. Anthony of Padua parish by this summer.
The announcement was made in the form of a Jan. 3 letter from the Franciscan provincial minister Kevin Mullen, addressed to Fr. Tuttle and St. Anthony of Padua parishioners.
“Please know that this is not due to any failing or shortcoming on your part,” Mullen said in the letter. “Rather, when all is said and done, the motive for our departure comes down to two decisive factors having to do with the Franciscans: our declining numbers and fidelity to our Franciscan charism.”
Fr. Tuttle, more commonly known as “Fr. Pat,” has been assigned to St. Anthony’s since 2005 and became pastor in 2007. He is a prominent member of the Greenville community, easily recognizable for his brown friars’ robes and known for his involvement in community outreach and charitable work.
The Franciscans – also known as the Order of Friars Minor – is Catholic religious order dating back to 1209, the doctrine of which espouses vows of poverty, humility and itinerant lifestyles.
Despite their nomadic nature, the Franciscans have been a presence in Greenville for the past 81 years.
Mullen noted in the letter to the St. Anthony’s parish that the number of actively working Franciscan friars has been dwindling, down from 708 friars in 1985 to just 280 today.
“With our diminished numbers, it is impossible for us to maintain all of our current ministerial commitments while also maintaining fraternities composed of several friars living in community,” Mullen said.
No announcement has yet been made as to Fr. Tuttle’s successor.
The announcement of the Franciscan’s departure from Greenville coincided with similar announcements in other parishes across the country, including St. Mary of the Angels Parish in Anderson, at which the Franciscans have been a presence for more than 77 years.
Besides those two parishes, the Franciscans will also be withdrawing friars from parishes in Colonie, New York; Athens, Georgia; New York City, New York; Orlando, Florida; Raleigh, North Carolina; Wilmington, Delaware; and Wood-Ridge, New Jersey.