The First Augustinian Missionaries
In the early years after the United States had been established as an independent country, the population was widely scattered. There were few priests to minister to Catholics. When Bishop John Carroll of Baltimore appealed for priests to come to America, the Augustinians of Ireland sent Rev. John Rosseter, O.S.A., who arrived in Philadelphia in 1794. Bishop Carroll was so pleased with Father Rosseter's ministry that he asked the Order of St. Augustine to send additional friars and to establish a permanent community in the new republic.
Rev. Matthew Carr, O.S.A. was assigned to the new mission field. He arrived in 1796 and made Philadelphia the center of Augustinian missionary activity. As their number grew, the Augustinians expanded their presence and ministry to neighboring Eastern states.
Arrival in the Midwest
In 1905 Archbishop James E. Quigley invited the Order to Chicago to start its first foundation west of the Appalachian Mountains. Rev. James F. Green, O.S.A. went to Chicago later that year. He was asked to establish a Catholic presence in the sparsely settled southwest section of Chicago.
Three months later, construction was started of a church, school and monastery. The buildings served the newly established St. Rita of Cascia Parish and St. Rita College (now called St. Rita of Cascia High School).
As the area population grew, the Augustinians established three additional parishes in nearby neighborhoods in 1909: St. Clare of Montefalco, St. Nicholas of Tolentine, and St. Gall. St. Rita of Cascia Parish moved from the high school campus to its own building a few blocks west in 1916.
Bishops of other midwestern dioceses began inviting the Augustinians to establish communities and serve the Church in their territories. The Augustinians then assumed responsibility for three parishes in Michigan: St. Augustine Parish in Detroit, St. Clare of Montefalco Parish in Grosse Pointe Park, and St. Matthew Parish in Flint. Cascia Hall Preparatory School was founded in Tulsa, Oklahoma as a Catholic High School in 1924. The Augustinians also began serving other Illinois foundations such as St. Thomas High School and St. Mary Parish in Rockford, and Fox Valley Catholic High School in Aurora.
Province of Our Mother of Good Counsel Established
By the late 1930's there were nine houses and 60 Augustinians serving in the Midwest. The time was right to establish a new Province in the central United States. Thus, the Province of Our Mother of Good Counsel was born April 26, 1941. Two months later, the first Province Chapter was held. Rev. Ruellan P. Fink, O.S.A. was chosen as the first elected Provincial of the new Province.
The Villanova (Eastern U. S.) Province continued for several years to send five friars annually to the Midwest. Together with young men from the Midwest who joined the Order, the Province grew steadily.
The growing number of friars enabled the new Province to respond to the changing needs of the Church and to establish its own seminary system. In North America, Augustinians of the Midwest serve or served at varying times in:
- British Columbia: Sacred Heart Parish, Delta
- Illinois: Mendel Catholic High School, St. Rita of Cascia High School, St. Rita of Cascia Parish, St. Clare of Montefalco Parish; St. Nicholas of Tolentine Parish, St. Gall Parish, St. Turibius Parish, St. Gabriel Parish, St. John Stone Friary, St. Augustine Friary, St. Monica Monastery and Blessed William Monastery, Chicago; Providence Catholic High School and St. Jude Parish, New Lenox; Our Mother of Good Counsel Parish and Our Lady of Grace Community, Homer Glen; Austin Friary, Matteson; St. Joseph Parish, Pekin; Bishop McNamara Catholic High School, Kankakee; Fox Valley Catholic High School and St. Rita Parish, Aurora; St. Thomas High School and St. Mary Parish, Rockford; Tolentine College and Monastery, Olympia Fields, and Blessed Stephen Bellesini Friary, Lemont
- Indiana: St. Joseph Mission House, Fort Wayne; and Blessed Stephen Bellesini Friary at Saint Anthony Home in Crown Point
- Louisiana: St. Anthony Parish, Baton Rouge
- Michigan: Austin Catholic High School, St. Augustine Parish, and Our Mother of Consolation Parish, Detroit; St. Peter Parish, Douglas; Blessed Sacrament Parish, Allegan; Our Lady of the Lake Parish, Edwardsburg; St. Clare of Montefalco Parish, Grosse Pointe Park; St. Augustine Seminary, Holland; St. Matthew Parish, Flint, and Austin Catholic Academy, Ray
- Missouri: Augustinian Academy and Immaculate Conception/St. Henry Parish, St. Louis, and St. Mary Parish, Independence
- Oklahoma: Cascia Hall Preparatory School, Tulsa
- Ontario: St. Gregory Parish, Cambridge; St. Thomas of Villanova College and Our Lady of Grace Monastery, King City, and Sacred Heart Parish, King City
- Texas: Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Abbott; Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish, Penelope; Our Lady of Mercy Parish, Hillsboro; St. Mary Parish, Gainesville; St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, Pilot Point; Sacred Heart Parish, Muenster, and St. Peter Parish, Lindsay
- Wisconsin: St. Monica Novitiate, Oconomowoc; Holy Rosary Parish, Kenosha, and St. Rita Parish, Racine
Bringing the Gospel to Foreign Lands
The Augustinians of the Midwest have traveled to foreign lands to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Three Province members served in the Augustinian mission to Japan, started in 1952 under the joint sponsorship of the Midwestern and Eastern Provinces.
After a request in 1963 from Pope John XXIII, the Augustinians of the Midwest accepted responsibility for the newly created Prelature (now Diocese) of Chulucanas in northern Peru. Most Rev. John C. McNabb, O.S.A. served as its first Bishop; Most Rev. Daniel T. Turley, O.S.A., currently serves as the Bishop of Chulucanas. As more Peruvians have joined the Augustinians, a Vicariate (a group of Augustinians on the way to becoming an independent Province) has been established in the north of Peru. Several Augustinians of the Midwest and Eastern Provinces continue to live and minister in Peru.
As of May 2016, the Midwest Province of Augustinians has 76 Augustinians in solemn vows and 14 men in formation.