The Commandery of St. Francis was founded in San Francisco on November 20, 1992, with its first Convent and Investiture (C&I). The original membership consisted of seven postulants who were invested on that date, sponsored by a Knight of the Order who had moved to the San Francisco area. The Commandery was elevated to Priory status in 1993.
St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in San Mateo, California hosted the Priory from 1994 until 2007, when the Priory Council voted to transfer its C&I to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in historic Benicia (third state capitol of California, 1853-1854). The new location is deemed more central to the membership which is drawn from areas south of San Francisco, the greater California Central Valley, the Central Coast of California and the Sacramento Valley area north to the Oregon border.
The Priory of St. Francis has actively promoted participation in GPUSA and OSMTH (international) and other events from 1999 to 2012. A growing leadership cadre of our Priory’s knights and dames attend each annual Grand Convent and Investiture. This core of at least six Priory leaders includes four to six additional Priory members each year. A number of Priory members have held and now hold positions in the national organization and are actively involved in GPUSA service and policy development.
The Priory hosted a successful GPUSA Grand Convent and Investiture in October 2004, the first one held west of the Mississippi River. Over sixty Knights and Dames from around the country joined our local members as did several OSMTH members and their spouses from other nations. This San Francisco event was a high mark of GPUSA events that year.
Three members of the Priory were able to participate in the GPUSA Pilgrimage in November 2011 for the first time. Chevaliers Bill Barnsdale, Dan Porter and Chvse. Joy Barnsdale participated in the group of twenty-four Knights and Dames who visited our Templar brethren and GPUSA- sponsored charities in Bethlehem and Jerusalem. It was a moving and informative trip that more fully illuminated the scope of our support for Christians at risk in the Holy Land. The Priory of St Francis will continue to support future GPUSA pilgrimages, as well as its annual donation to the Holy Land through the Jerusalem Mite.
The Priory of St. Francis has contributed to the growth of other GPUSA priories. The Priory has mentored and supported the establishment of three new priories on the west coast and assisted with the growth of several others. The first group to start as a commandery is the well-established Priory of Mount St. Michael in Seattle and Portland, which was elevated to priory status in March 2003. The second commandery to be elevated to priory status is the Priory of our Savior in Pasadena in 1999. The third commandery elevated to priory status is the Priory of the Mountain House of the Lord in Salt Lake City in 1999. All three of these priories were sponsored by the Priory of St Francis as commanderies, as they developed their membership and grew to priory status.
As the Priory of San Francisco approaches its twenty-year anniversary, we will celebrate with over fifty active members and the knowledge that we have helped to grow the charitable mission of the Order. The Priory operates with little to no overhead, operating or administrative costs and our members contribute many hours of charitable work each year. The Priory of St. Francis donates over $6,000 each year to our various charities through our charitable works. Our members and leaders are committed to continuing this good work in the name of the Lord.
Priors of the Priory of St. Francis
Prior I Chev. Nelson Arthur Zimmerman, GCTJ (1992-1995)
Prior II COL Chev. Victor Howard, Ph.D., GCTJ (1995-1997)
Prior III COL Chev. William D. Borum, GCTJ (1997-1999)
Prior IV CAPT Chev. Miles Bresee, Jr, KCTJ (1999-2000)
Prior V Chvse. Mary Margaret Borum, DGCTJ, CMTJ (2000-2003)
Prior VI COL Chev. William Barnsdale, Jr., GCTJ (2003-2007)
Prior VII LCDR Chev. Arthur W. Curtis, GOTJ (2007-2009)
Prior VIII Chev. Randall Doyle Greer, GOTJ (2009-2011)
Prior IX COL Chvse. Elizabeth (Joy) Barnsdale, GCTJ (2011-2013)
Prior X COL Chev. Robert James Kaufman, GOTJ (2013-2015)
Prior XI Chev. Richard Charles Crowe, Esq., GOTJ (2015-2017)
Prior XII COL Chvse. Bernadette Crofton, GOTJ (2017-2019)
Prior XIII Katherine Denise Crowe, DCTJ (2019-2021)
Prior XIV Kathleen Todd Watson, GCTJ, CMTJ (2021-present)