After much reflection and consultation, the Province of St. Maximilian M. Kolbe in India has founded a new missionary house in the State of Odisha, a place where no Conventual Franciscan presence has ever been established before. We firmly believe that the establishment of this missionary presence during the celebration of the 800th anniversary of the first nativity scene, which our Seraphic Father created, is entirely God’s plan.

The story that led to the foundation of the presence resembles a nativity play. It began when a few friars were entrusted with visiting all of the dioceses in Odisha. They traveled the entire state from south to north, just like Joseph and Mary. After two years of pilgrimage, the friars were warmly accepted into the Diocese of Baleshwar (Balasor). Thus, in view of this history, they decided to name their new presence the “Franciscan Friary of Greccio.”
On January 2, 2024, the Most Reverend Varghese THOTTANKARA, C. M., Bishop of Baleshwar, blessed the new mission presence. Others participating in the event included the Most Reverend Thomas THIRUTHALIL, C. M., Bishop Emeritus of Baleshwar, India; Friar Michael EARALY, the Minister Provincial; Friar Paul POTHANATTUVELIYIL, the Delegate of the Provincial Delegation in India (Andhra Pradesh–Telangana); Friar Savior KARAMVELIL JACOB, the Counselor of the Delegation; Friar Bonaventure KALLUVETTUKUZHIYIL JOHN, the former Minister Provincial; Friar Louis PANTHIRUVELIL, the former Delegate; Father Isaac PUTHENANGADY, the Vicar General of the Diocese of Baleshwar; Father Saji Joseph KARATHANGAL, the representative of the parish church; several friars from nearby religious communities; and many family members and friends.
The Minister Provincial, Friar Michael EARALY, blessed Friars Mario KANIYAMKUNNEL and Lijomon PATHADAN. He gave each of them the Tau cross as a symbol of the Franciscan mission, and entrusted their mission to the bishop.
We appreciate the kind welcome and assistance from the Diocese of Baleshwar in founding this modest Conventual Franciscan presence. It is surprising that this Diocese has never had a Franciscan presence before.

The Provincial Secretariat