Christmas Break Provides Time for Service, Travel, and Other Activities

Wendy Healy Friar News

The recent holiday break found many friars taking time off from their educational ministries at colleges to pursue some of their many other interests. Several HNP friars — based at both Province-sponsored colleges as well as at other educational institutions — submitted reports to the HNP Communications Office about how they spent their time between semesters.

David Bossman, OFM
Seton Hall University, South Orange, N.J.

David, editor of Biblical Theology Bulletin, a position he has held since 1981, spent the Christmas break from school working on the bulletin and preparing for his spring semester classes, Jewish and Christian Foundations for Social Service, and Values for a Pluralistic Society.

He said, “Usually I spend my Christmas holidays working on class preparations and editorial work on BTB, a quarterly international journal now published by Sage Publishers in London. Over the years, we have published many articles by distinguished scholars — Catholic, Protestant, Jewish.”

One particular article stood out for David. It was written by Fr. Prospero Grech, a biblical scholar at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome who submitted it for blind peer review. The article was accepted and will appear in the May issue. “Fr. Grech wrote to me last week to let me know that he had been appointed cardinal, a rare honor for a theologian.”

This week, David returned to the classroom, where he teaches two graduate-level courses.

Michael Calabria, OFM
St. Bonaventure University, Allegany, N.Y.

Michael returned home to Western New York after a brief Christmas visit with his parents in Florida to work on a chapter of his dissertation that explores Muslim attitudes toward the ancient Egyptians as revealed by the Qur’an and extra-Qur’anic sources. With the introduction and literature survey complete, he worked on the chapter, “Ibrahim and the Egyptians,” examining Islamic versions of the story told in Gen. 12: 10-20 of Pharaoh’s desire for Sara. He said: “While the biblical account probably serves above all to foreshadow the Exodus story, the Islamic versions seem to emphasize God’s providence and faithful endurance in times of trial, similar to the way the story was interpreted by Christian authors such as John Chrysostom.”

The spring semester began at St. Bonaventure on Jan. 16.

Julian Davies, OFM
Siena College, Loudonville, N.Y.

Julian served as a chaplain on a Christmas-week cruise to the Bahamas from Dec. 23 to 30. The 3,000-person cruise departed from Bayonne, N.J. Julian traveled by bus from Upstate New York to the port. He said, “My first duty was Midnight Mass and then an 8 a.m. Mass on Christmas day. There was a moving carol-singing in the gathering area of the ship, the Promenade, at 10 p.m. Midnight Mass had probably close to 300 people and I ran out of hosts, even after breaking many into four pieces. We sang a capella. On Christmas day, some 60 folks showed up.” Julian also celebrated a Mass for the ship’s crew.

In between “counseling a couple travelers and doing an anointing,” Julian used his relaxing time off to make phone calls, read novels, watch sports, play bridge and take an excursion.

He shared a few “small world stories”: “I met friends of Tom Conway, OFM, from Long Beach Island, people from Boston College that knew Kenneth Himes, OFM, the widow of a Siena graduate, and a teacher of a Siena graduate.”

Daniel Dwyer, OFM
Siena College, Loudonville, N.Y.

Daniel commented on papers at the 92nd Annual Conference of the American Catholic Historical Association in Chicago from Jan. 5 to 8. He participated on a panel called “Franciscan Pioneers and Prophets in the United States.”

“Three papers were presented and it was my task to make sagacious comments on them,” he said. While in Chicago, he also interviewed candidates for a position in Siena’s history department, and prepared for several courses that start this week, as well as an upcoming retreat. Dan also enjoyed sightseeing while in the “Windy City.”

Louis Iasiello, OFM
The Pontifical College Josephinum, Columbus, Ohio

Louis was invited to lecture at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., as part of a series of guest lectures on innovation in American society. “Effective Innovation in American Society … Keeping America on Top” included individual presentations followed by a three-hour panel discussion. Louis said that other speakers included former CIA director R. James Woolsey, Dr. Rita Colwell, presidential science advisor, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, lead guitarist for the Doobie Brothers, Bran Ferran, who won three Emmys for animation for Disney and Pixar, and General Al Gray, former Commandant of the Marine Corps.

“My presentation was titled “Effective Social and Cultural Innovation in 21st Century America,” he said. “People were enthused to see Skunk and the Franciscan alongside one another for the three-hour panel.”

Christopher Keenan, OFM
College of Mount St. Vincent, Riverdale, N.Y.

Chris took time off from his hectic schedule to celebrate a Dec. 28 wedding Mass for his cousin in Sydney, Australia, and to participate in family reunions. Chris celebrated the Mass and a friar from Melbourne, who Chris had met before, officiated.

Cashing in on air mileage, he was “down under” from Dec. 22 to Jan. 6. “There were 15 cousins, from a variety of countries, including Ireland, Scotland, South Africa and Saudi Arabia,” he said. “The trip was terrific.”

Chris, who is a chaplain of the Fire Department of New York, said that the best part of the trip was the reunions that went on during the holidays. His parents were each one of nine children; Chris’ uncle had emigrated to Australia.

A week after Chris returned to the United States, he presided at a Mass of Christian Burial for Rosemary Kerr, a former Franciscan Sister of Allegany, who died Dec. 23 in New York City. Years ago, she and Chris were involved with the Province’s formation program. The funeral was Jan. 13.

holiday-2011Kevin Mackin, OFM
Mount St. Mary College, Newburgh, N.Y.

When final exams finished up on Dec. 16, Kevin, president of the college, began traveling for interim meetings and service with parishes in the Province. He celebrated more than a dozen penance sessions with churchgoers at St. Francis of Assisi Church in New York City during the week preceding Christmas. In between the sacraments, he attended business meetings in Newburgh and New York City, and caught up with friends and family.

Between Christmas and New Year’s Day, Kevin was back in the office, and then went to the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities National Conference in Florida, where he visited the St. Anthony Friary in St. Petersburg. Kevin traveled again on Jan. 12 to the 2012 National Collegiate Athletic Association Convention in Indianapolis, Ind. The college’s spring semester begins Jan. 23.

Dennis Tamburello, OFM
Siena College, Loudonville, N.Y.

Dennis, shown in photo above, spent part of his Christmas break on a service trip with nine Siena students at St. Francis Inn, the soup kitchen in Philadelphia. “We served meals at the Inn and worked in St. Benedict’s Thrift Store and the Women’s Center, ” he said, adding ” The participants come from all four classes at Siena.

Photos of the Jan. 7 to 14 volunteer project can be found on Facebook

Siena began its spring semester on Jan. 17.

— Wendy Healy, author of Life is Too Short: Stories of Transformation and Renewal after 9/11, is a frequent contributor to HNP Today. Jocelyn Thomas contributed research to this article.