On December 11, 1942, permission was granted to Father P.M. Steif, a diocesan priest, and Pastor of the Cathedral of St. Patrick in Harrisburg, Penna., to establish a Third Order of St. Francis in his parish. Monsignor Kirchner, another pastor of the Cathedral, had helped the Fraternity as well, in its early years. Correspondence among First Order Franciscan Provincials and Fraternity Directors with St. Patrick's Cathedral rectors reflect the following information:
The fraternity was canonically established in 1944 under the Holy Name Province (O.F.M.), St. Francis Monastery, 135 West 31st Street, New York, NY, 10001. The Provincial Commissary of St. Francis Monastery, New York City, supervised the early years of the Fraternity. At that time, the fraternity was known as St. Patrick's Cathedral Parish Fraternity. The first group reception was January 16th, 1944. The first group profession was January 21, 1945.
There is some question about the following fact: Father Jerome Kucan, O.F. M. of the Assumption of the B.V.M. Parish. 815 S. Second Street, Steelton, PA, of the First Order, Commissariat of the Holy Family (Croatian Franciscans) assumed duties as Spiritual Director of the Fraternity in 1964. The Fraternity was transferred to the Franciscan Third Order Regular, Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus #17 of May 20, 1966, and the fraternity changed its name to St. Thomas More Fraternity. At that time, the original Documentum Erectionis could not be found. The jurisdiction was transferred from Father Victorian Reischman, OFM, having already received the approval of Monsignor Charles F. Murray, rector of St. Patrick's Cathedral, Harrisburg. Father Valentine P.M. Pavlik, T.O.R. of the Franciscan Fathers, TOR, ST. Francis Prepatory School, Spring Grove, Pa. attended the fraternity meetings and conduction benediction for the fraternity in the mid 1960's. Father Pavlik was given the faculties to received and profess members in 1965 by Father Victorian Reischman, Provincial Commissary in New York in March 1965. Father Pavlik reported to Monsignor Murray of the Cathedral, that the fraternity was coming along nicely and the Derr McClosky, Mrs. Wagner among others, were dedicated in their work with the fraternity. The Certificate of Erection was still being searched for at this time.
The earliest bulletins in the fraternity file are from 1973, at which time the Minister Prefect was William A Fulmer, Third Order of St. Francis (T.O.S.F.) By 1977 the Prefect was Leona Horan (T.O.F.) and the Spiritual Director was Father Jude Gleason, T.O.R. Fraternity meetings were now being held at St. Lawrence Church, Harrisburg. The name of the Church was changed to the Cathedral Chapel. When the First Order Provincial supervision was replaced by a Secular Regional organization, the St. Thomas More Fraternity of Harrisburg came under the supervision of the St. Margaret of Cortona Region, and was assigned the number 57130.
It was decided in the early 2000's years that due to the difficulty of some members in navigating the stairs at the Chapel (meetings were held in the school cafeteria in the basement of the chapel) that handicapped accessible location would be sought, and was found at the Diocesan Center in Harrisburg, adjacent to the Bishop's Residence. Eventually, this location was made unavailable, and for another period of time, the fraternity met at the St. Margaret Mary School, next to the original St. Margaret Mary's Church in Harrisburg. The fraternity outgrew this site and found a home at Good Shepherd Parish, Camp Hill with the welcome of Father Paul Hedwig. Father Wallace Sawdy was the Fraternity's Spiritual Assistant from 1990 until his death on Jan. 7, 2006, Father Leon Leitem OFM Cap., from St. Francis Parish, Harrisburg became Spiritual Assistant until his transfer in August of 2012, at which time Brother Michael Rubus, OFM Cap. took on the responsibility of the Fraternity's Spiritual Assistant.
Diocese of Harrisburg website: Here