Our Story

Franciscan Charities got its start in 2004 as a response to a call for help.  A handful of Newark’s most needy had gathered in the basement of St. Ann’s, a nearly-abandoned church in the Central Ward.  They were poor and hungry.

A few volunteers showed up with hot soup and sincere intentions that first day and served 12 people.  They had little access to running water, no kitchen to speak of, frequent power outages and plenty of doubts.  Gang members milled around the entrance. The police told the volunteers to go home, but under the guidance of Brother Paul Miller they kept returning.  Soon 12 became 20 and then 200.  In time, volunteers rebuilt the kitchen, the church reopened, gangs moved on and Franciscan Charities reclaimed a small piece of community.

Since then Franciscan Charities has worked with more than a thousand volunteers to help our neighbors in Newark -- serving over a million meals, distributing more than 20 thousand coats, hats, gloves, scarves hats, and toys, supplying school supplies and backpacks to more than a thousand Newark students, providing countless packs of personal hygiene products and diapers, and resolving thousands of social service and welfare issues.

Our Mission

The mission of Franciscan Charities is to tend to the critical needs of the poor, provide tools to rise above poverty and support physical, emotional and spiritual healing.

Our clients represent the most vulnerable members of society: the working poor, the homeless, the disabled, the unemployed, the addicted, the abused, single mothers, children, and the elderly.

We believe in the dignity of a hot meal, the comfort of a safe space, and power of a kind word.

Our People

Board of Directors

Paul C. Miller, OFS

Founder and Chairman

Greg Langan


Kurt Peters

Vice President

Sharon McCloskey


Barbara Gode


Diane Braschi


Melissa Hillier


Vincent Lima


Michael Racanelli



Dan Ellis

Administrative Manager

Larry Crawford

Director of Client Advocacy

Ronney Jacob


Financial Information

Franciscan Charities has earned a Four Star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest and most-utilized independent charity evaluator, as a result of our organization’s strong financial health and ongoing accountability and transparency. This score designates Franciscan Charities as an official “Give with Confidence” charity, indicating that our organization is using its donations effectively based on Charity Navigator’s criteria.

Founded in 2004, Franciscan Charities Inc. is a 501(c)(3) federal income tax exempt charitable organization. It is registered with the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General (CH26852000).