Celebrating Franciscan Ministry with a Challenge

Maria Hayes Friar News

TRIANGLE, Va. — Friars and laypeople came together for a celebration of Franciscan ministry during a recent Franciscan Challenge event at St. Francis Parish.

The fundraising event began with small cocktail parties hosted by the friars on Feb. 27 and 28, and included homilies given by David Convertino, OFM, during Masses on Saturday and Sunday.

Central to this year’s challenge is a video that highlights the many ways the Franciscan friars seek to “heal wounds, unite what has fallen apart, and bring home those who have lost their way.” In the video, lines from St. Francis’s Peace Prayer are interspersed with testimonies provided by laypeople and friars. Stories shared by participants include receiving help from St. Francis Friends of the Poor, the grace of hearing confessions and simply being present for those in need.

The video ends with a message encouraging viewers to “Be an instrument of peace” and give to the Franciscan Challenge. It was shown after homilies at Masses and the cocktail parties, and was produced by the HNP Office of Development.

Enthusiastic Support for the Friars
Friars participating in the Triangle event included pastor Kevin Downey, OFM, guardian John O’Connor, OFM, and parochial vicar James Toal, OFM, as well as Larry Anderson, OFM, of Siena College, and John Heffernan, OFM, and Michael Reyes, OFM, of Silver Spring, Md.

“There was a lot of enthusiasm and support from the parishioners of Triangle,” Michael said. “Their love for the friars and the good works done by the friars there was quite obvious. Many of them were impressed by the diversity of our ministry.”

“These events are about the members of the  parish community helping to share the mission of the friars and the Province,” said David.

The Franciscan Challenge was established in 2012 as a way to seek financial assistance for the friars, as well as a means to spend time with partners-in-ministry. During each challenge, David, the Province’s director of development, visits ministries for three days of varied activities where potential donors receive information about the Province, speak with friars and enjoy Franciscan fraternity.

This year’s goal is to raise $1 million to support HNP’s ministries to the poor, formation students and retired friars.

Sharing ‘Goodness’ of God’s Work
In addition to raising money, the events raise awareness of the goodness created by the Province’s many ministries, said Michael, who presented information about Holy Name College, the formation house in Silver Spring.

“When David asked me to come and help at this event, I immediately answered ‘yes’ because I wanted to personally thank all those who are supporting the friars,” Michael said. “I am really amazed that most of the parishioners came up to me to thank me for the good works that the friars are doing. They are all so grateful for the friars’ presence there.

Michael took part in the challenge to share what it’s like to be a student in formation. He was solemnly professed in August 2014 and plans to finish his master of divinity degree next semester.

“By talking with the parishioners, I felt inspired to persevere and keep doing what I am doing,” he said. “I want to continue bearing witness to and being an instrument of God’s unconditional and welcoming love to all.”

Franciscan Challenge events have been held this year throughout the Province — including last weekend’s in Boston — with others in Georgia, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York to come. Donations to the Franciscan Challenge can be made online.

Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.