Saint Francis was born in 1181 in the town of Assisi, about 80 miles from Rome. His father was a wealthy cloth merchant. In his youth, Francis was regarded as passionate and ambitious.
Francis wanted to be a knight. At age 19, he was called to go to war to defend Assisi from the neighboring town of Perugia. He was captured and put in prison. While in prison, he became quite sick. This long illness caused him to think a lot about his life and he felt something important was missing. He still felt drawn to be a knight, but he began to realize that this might not be his path to happiness.
He went back to the battles of war, but was still uneasy about the direction his life was going. One day, Francis visited the abandoned church of San Damiano. He heard a voice coming from the cross hanging over the altar. Francis thought he heard a plea for him to rebuild the rundown church. He started rebuilding the brick and mortar church. His father was angry with him because Francis was using family money to rebuild the church. His father figured Francis had lost his mind. He took Francis to the public square in Assisi and asked the local bishop to demand that Francis give up this project. Francis took off his very fine clothes and renounced all his possessions and inheritance. He wanted to give his whole life to God.
Francis realized that the call to rebuild the church was not just a job of bricks and mortar. Francis knew that he was being called to give new direction to the Church in its spiritual life. From then on, Francis began preaching and teaching about God. He formed a small community of brothers to assist him in his missionary work. They lived very simple lives and depended on God's providence to care for them. Francis became a great lover of the gifts of creation that so beautifully surrounded Assisi. He was a strong advocate of peace among all peoples. He sought to be present to the poor and the sick. In all things, Francis always wanted to follow Jesus Christ. The gospel preached by Jesus was the lifeblood of Francis.
Francis died in 1226, having left a dramatic mark on the whole of Christianity. He continues to be one of the most well known saints.
The designation of the parish under the patronage of Francis of Assisi calls each of us in our own lives to be lovers of creation, respecters of the dignity of all human persons, to work for peace in all its forms, and to seek always to follow Jesus Christ.
The design for the master plan of our church was inspired by the churches and architecture of Assisi, the home of St. Francis. That design includes such architectural details as small round windows at the peaks of the worship center; the use of banding on various levels of the stone for the outside and inside of the building; the inclusion of a bell tower and courtyard; and the use of stone and wood as primary building materials. The small bell gate marking the south entrance to the gathering space contains a rock from Assisi brought back to the parish by Father Steve Orr after a visit to the Italian city.