Co-founded by Father James A. Walsh and Father Thomas Frederick Price during 1911, the Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America, from its infancy, also has been comprised of Brothers. The inspiration of Brotherhood at Maryknoll possibly enlightened Father Walsh during the first year of the Society. At that time, on nearly four pages written with his own hand, Father Walsh explained the concept of Missionary Brothers (known as Auxiliary Brothers of Saint Michael) to be attached to his seminary.
During Maryknoll's first 25 years, about 200 men applied to serve as Brothers. Among the first was Brother Thomas McCann of Brooklyn. He arrived at Maryknoll's first home in rented facilities in Hawthorne, New York, at about age 20 after working as a printer for The New York Herald newspaper. He and two other men who expressed interest in serving as Brothers became associated with Maryknoll before the first seminarians joined the Society.
Though these first arrivals desired to be part of the growing mission movement, they felt that they had not been called by God to serve in ordained ministry. Since McCann's two colleagues soon left Maryknoll, the establishment of the foundation of Maryknoll's Brothers was placed in the hands of Brother Thomas. The Society provided him with the opportunity to fulfill his dream to advance foreign mission.
When the Society purchased nearby farmland to establish a permanent home in Ossining, New York, a small group of Brothers led by Brother McCann decided to occupy one of the farm buildings. They named it Saint Michael's Annex.
As the vocation of a Maryknoll Missionary Brother became more defined and as the Society expanded across the country and around the world, communities of Brothers were formed at newly-established Maryknoll Houses in various states and in foreign mission.
Brothers were assigned to assist Nisei, or Japanese Americans, on the west coast. Brothers also served in Detroit, St. Louis and Akron. Almost 10 years after Maryknoll's first foreign mission departed to China during 1912, Albert Staubil joined them there, becoming the first Maryknoll Brother assigned to overseas mission. Brother Joseph Donahue was assigned to Korea, Brother Philip Morini opened the mission in Hawaii and Brother Bernard Hansan was the first Maryknoller assigned to Japan.
Seventy-six Maryknoll Brothers were serving overseas or at Maryknoll Houses in the U.S. by 1936. The coming of World War II closed Asia to mission programs, and Maryknoll Brothers in that part of the world were reassigned to new mission opportunities in Bolivia, Peru, Mexico and Guatemala. Brothers also were assigned to Africa, specifically Tanganyika and Kenya. With the end of the war, Brothers received assignments in Taiwan and the Philippines.
After the war, as men were discharged from military service, most returned to their homes to reunite with family and friends, and to begin or re-establish careers. Some men looked for other opportunities, including dedicating their lives to helping others. These men decided to serve Maryknoll as the Foreign Mission Brothers of St. Michael.
During the late 1940s, the Maryknoll House of Formation in Akron, Ohio, served the Maryknoll Brother's Formation Program. From this time through 1966, 380 men, many of them returning military veterans, were professed to the vocation.
During the late 1950s, the age of commitment for a Brother candidate was lowered from the mid-20s to 21. The age was lowered again, to 17, during the 1960s and the commitment had to be accompanied by a high school diploma.
As this change in age requirement provided more young men with the opportunity to seek the vocation, Maryknoll realized the importance of developing spirituality formation and providing special mechanical and business training for all candidates. Brothers were offered additional responsibilities and many furthered professional accreditation or higher education in selected areas of concentration -- mechanics, carpentry, plumbing, electrical wiring, bookkeeping, printing and healthcare -- to help Maryknoll in the U.S. and in foreign lands.
As the Society turned 40 at the beginning of the 1950s, the Maryknoll Brothers formation was moved to Brookline, Massachusetts. It was managed by Father Robert E. Sheridan of Chicago, who moved the program moved again to Maryknoll's center in New York a few years later. Father Sheridan served as the director of the Brothers until 1959.
During the 1970s, Maryknoll appointed a Brother's Consultant to the Society's General Council, or governing body. Simultaneously, a member of the General Council served as liaison for all matters that involved its Brothers.
At about this same time, Maryknoll had become more engaged in mission in the Middle East and the Brothers represented the majority of the Society's missionaries in that region. They served in Yemen, Lebanon and Egypt. During subsequent years, they joined new mission projects in the People's Republic of China, Thailand, Cambodia, Israel, Namibia and Mozambique.
Another chapter for the Maryknoll Brothers, addressing Maryknoll Society leadership, began during the 1990s and it has continued to expand during the past decade.
Brother Wayne Fitzpatrick of Malone, New York, and the Diocese of Ogdensburg, became the first Brother elected to Maryknoll's General Council. He served two consecutive terms (1990-2002) in New York and currently serves as the Assistant Regional Superior for the U.S. Region. On another continent, Brother Frank TenHoopen of Zeelan, Michigan, and the Diocese of Gaylord, was appointed Assistant Regional Superior in Africa. Brother TenHoopen served in this position for three consecutive three-year terms (1998-2007) and today he serves in mission in Kenya.