A Season of Festivities for Providence Ministries

HNP Communications Around the Province

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The Church of St. Mary on Broadway community is preparing to say farewell to pastor Frank Sevola, OFM, welcome Steven Patti, OFM, and celebrate its five-year anniversary as a Franciscan parish with a special reception this weekend.

Before Frank leaves the parish, where he has served for the past five years, and St. Francis Chapel, where he’s been for nine years, he took time to award the Province’s Francis Medal to Vicky Almeida, a lawyer who has been a faithful supporter of the church and headed the Franciscan Legacy Campaign. Almeida received the award at a May 1 Mass, which was followed by coffee hour.

Francis Medal Presentation
While Almeida has done many things to support Franciscan ideals, her leadership in 2009 as the president of the Rhode Island Bar Association especially stands out, according to Frank. She encouraged her colleagues to be good to one another for the simple reason that it was rewarding and good for the spirit.

In presenting the medal, Frank said: “That is the essence of Franciscan theology and ministry. It is the essence of a Franciscan heart. Her commitment to the Church goes well beyond us Franciscans. It goes to the Sisters of Mercy, Salve Regina University, St. Antoine Residence and to the whole Church of Providence.”

He added: “Vicky brings her Franciscan heart to the leadership of the Order of Malta and her loving heart to the good work of the Poverello Center and St. Francis Chapel including her generous leadership of our recently completed Franciscan Legacy Campaign.”

Holy Name Province established the Francis Medal in 1998 to recognize and express appreciation to people who have advanced the values and ideals of St. Francis of Assisi.

The farewell reception, catered by the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, where Frank served as board president for more than two years, will be held June 5 at the Bridgham Middle School after the 10 a.m. Mass.

A Facebook Farewell 
The parish posted a “Goodbye Letter from Fr. Frank” to the Franciscan community on the church’s Facebook page for its more than 200 followers.

He writes: “It seems like just yesterday that I arrived in Providence as the guardian and director of St. Francis Chapel and City Ministry Center. At the same time, five years have passed since the friars came to St. Mary’s and I became your pastor.

“As I reflect on my move, I feel excited, sad, relieved, anxious, hopeful — just to name a few emotions on an inexhaustible list. During my nine years in Providence, I have witnessed a great deal of change in the ministry here. We opened a new food and wellness center and sold the downtown building that housed the friary, chapel, offices, and for a time, the novitiate. We took over an old, dying city parish and turned it into the fastest growing parish in the diocese. The changes were scary, but in the end, the decisions were right and resulted in a fresh, vibrant Franciscan ministry in Providence.

“I feel a sense of satisfaction and hope that change provides good and life-giving opportunities.”

He continued: “I can never find the words to express my gratitude to God, to the friars and to all of you for my ministry in Providence. So I will end with the most simple and meaningful phrase from the bottom of my heart — thank you.”

Steven Patti will assume leadership of the Providence ministries, relocating from Immaculate Conception Church in Durham, N.C.

— Wendy Healy, a freelance writer based in Connecticut, is a frequent contributor to this newsletter.

Editor’s Note: A reflection about life transitions by Frank Sevola and Steven Patti appeared in the March 23 issue of HNP Today.