NEW YORK — Eight friars gathered last week for a Mass at St. Francis of Assisi Church to celebrate their 50th anniversary of ordination. With their varied backgrounds and areas of expertise, the priests from Florida, the District of Columbia, New York and North Carolina celebrated their milestone together on May 23.
The friars reaching their golden jubilee this year are: Martin Bednar, OFM, of St. Petersburg, Fla.,Richard Biasiotto, OFM, and Paul Osborne, OFM, of Loudonville, N.Y., Edward Flanagan, OFM, of Washington, D.C., Kevin Mackin, OFM, of Newburgh, N.Y., David McBriar, OFM, of Raleigh, N.C., Neil O’Connell, OFM, of New York City and Gabriel Scarfia, OFM, of East Aurora, N.Y.
Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, celebrated a Mass at 5:30 p.m. After the homily, John led the honorees in an adapted version of the Rite of Renewal of Priestly Commitment. Family members and friends of the jubilarians performed some of the ministries of the Mass, serving as lectors and gift bearers. A dinner in the Province’s San Damiano Hall, complete with a cake inscribed with the words “Happy Ordination” followed the Mass.
“The friars in this class worked in a wide variety of ministries, from the missions in Brazil, to administration for the Province, to parish work in New Jersey, to academics,” said John, adding that “several of the friars hold doctorates.”
This event was John O’Connor’s last official function as Provincial Minister. “The celebrations of profession and priesthood anniversaries have always been special occasions for me,” he said. “I always considered it a privilege to be asked by the friars to be a part of these special moments in their lives. To the class of 1964, ad multos annos!”
The jubilarians were ordained priests on Feb. 22, 1964. “We were one of the last groups ordained in the Tridentine, or Latin, rite,” said Neil, who organized Friday’s celebration. “This is symbolic of the sea of change the class has experienced during these 50 years.” A total of 20 men were in the class 50 years ago. Deceased members were remembered during the Mass.
At the time of this 50th anniversary, Ed said he felt grateful to the friars who guided them through the years of formation. “Especially coming to my mind has been Theodore Cavanaugh, OFM, our prefect of discipline in Callicoon and master of clerics in Washington,” said Ed. “He guided mainly by example, and that example continued when he entered parish ministry through his pastoral common sense and kindness to people.”
“As we eight gathered at the Mass on Friday evening, I reminded myself how fortunate I was to be sitting there with such faithful and zealous servants of the Lord Jesus Christ,” he said.
Richard felt similarly. “As I celebrate my golden jubilee of ordination, I’m filled with a profound sense of gratitude,” he said. “I’m grateful to God for his merciful love and patience. I am grateful to my family of origin and my Franciscan family, especially my classmates, for their support and encouragement along the way.”
Several friars are marking other major anniversaries of ordination this year. They include Emeric Szlezak, OFM, of St. Petersburg, who commemorates 70 years as a priest, and Guy Morgan, OFM, also of St. Petersburg, and Finian Riley, OFM, of Ringwood, N.J., who are marking 60 years as priests. In addition, Kevin Cronin, OFM, and Robert Norton, OFM, are marking 40 years since ordination.
— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province. The photos were provided by Janet Gianopoulos of Mount Saint Mary College, Newburgh, N.Y. The friars shown in the photo above are Paul, Gabriel, Richard, Kevin, Neil, Ed and Martin.