Br. Xavier De La Huerta Marks 50 Years as a Franciscan
For Immediate Release
CONTACT: Jocelyn Thomas, director of communications
PHILADELPHIA — June 17, 2015 — Br. Xavier De La Huerta, OFM, a member of Holy Name Province, the largest community of Franciscan friars in the United States, will celebrate 50 years as a friar this month.
The Brownsville, Texas, native has spent more than half of his ministry at St. Francis Inn, the province’s soup kitchen in Philadelphia. While there, he has befriended guests of the Inn, listened to their challenges and cooked their meals.
“I identify myself with the guests at the Inn,” he said. “My guests know me well and many have told me that I’ve helped turn their lives around. I’ve seen a man who was addicted to drugs go on to become a school principal. My guests teach me to be dependent on God and that God is running the world.”
Br. De La Huerta joined the friars at age 28, after becoming interested in religious life while serving as a storekeeper on a Navy destroyer during the Cuban missile crisis. He joined the province as a tertiary brother in 1962 and spent the next two years working as a cook at a residence for student friars in Croghan, N.Y.
He then spent a year at St. Raphael’s Novitiate in Lafayette, N.J., where he also cooked. Br. De La Huerta professed his first vows there in 1965. Later that year, he moved to St. Francis College in Rye Beach, N.H., where he continued to cook and professed final vows in 1969.
While in Rye Beach, Br. De La Huerta began working with the poor, helping to provide them with shelter, food and other basic needs. In 1981, he began his current assignment in Philadelphia as a cook. Today, his ministry includes assisting the friars at the Inn, interacting with guests and “doing whatever needs to be done.”
“I’m always moving around,” he said. “The Holy Spirit surprises me every day with different things. I never know what I’ll be doing.”
In addition to his work at the Inn, Br. De La Huerta serves as the spiritual assistant to the local Secular Franciscans group and has assisted with the province’s vocation retreats for men interested in becoming a friar.
“For me, being a friar has meant being open to God’s grace in my life and being open to sharing it,” he said.
Br. De La Huerta and other friars marking their golden and silver jubilees will be honored at a 5:30 p.m. Mass on June 24 at St. Francis of Assisi Church on West 31st Street in New York City. All are invited to attend.
About the Province
Holy Name Province is the largest of seven provinces in the United States that belong to the Order of Friars Minor. With ministries in 12 states along the East Coast, its more than 300 Catholic priests and brothers serve in colleges, parishes, urban ministry centers and a wide variety of social ministries, as well as in overseas missions.
The Order, founded in 1209 by St. Francis of Assisi, commemorated its 800th anniversary in 2009. Today, St. Francis, whose feast day is Oct. 4, remains one of the most widely known saints, revered for his affection for nature and desire for respect of all people.
Questions and photo requests should be directed to Jocelyn Thomas, HNP director of communications, at 646-473-0265 ext. 321 or firstname.lastname@example.org.