Dan Horan Feels ‘Wonderfully Blessed’ By Internship

Rebecca Doel In the Headlines

As part of the formation process, prior to his solemn profession of vows, each Holy Name friar completes a yearlong internship — a time in a ministerial area that both the particular friar and the Province leadership feel best reflects the talents and interests of an individual, while also responding to the needs of the Province. This is the first in a series of profiles of student friars currently in their internship year.

LOUDONVILLE, N.Y. — As the youngest simply-professed member of Holy Name Province, Daniel Horan, OFM, is no stranger to the classroom. The newest friar faculty member at Siena College graduated from St. Bonaventure University just over five years ago.

“When I’m around campus and not in my habit, I am usually mistaken for a student,” said the 27-year-old. “The friars here particularly like recalling how I was stopped early in the year by campus security — twice in one week by different safety officers — and asked for my student ID, only to discover I was a new friar.”

Dan, who joined the faculty in August 2010, is teaching “Introduction to Christian Theology,” an upper-level course in the religious studies department as well as a yearlong freshman seminar in Siena’s “Foundations Sequence.” The interdisciplinary course, part of the college’s core curriculum, includes a service-learning aspect, pioneered by Kenneth Paulli, OFM, and passed on to Dan.

Enjoying Teaching and Music
Now able to laugh about his student-like appearance, Dan has discovered many advantages to being close in age to the students he teaches. “I think we (young professors) all share that ability to understand cultural and entertainment references, the use of new technology and other generational characteristics of the students that may be more removed from some of our older colleagues on faculty,” he said.

In addition to teaching, he has found himself involved in other aspects of campus life, including the college’s pep band.

“I was recruited to play the drums … a responsibility that I inherited, believe it or not, from my little brother Matthew, who graduated from Siena this past May,” Dan said, adding: “It’s a unique opportunity to work with the students and be part of the college life that most friars never get to experience. It’s certainly a different way to be a minister of presence.”

In fact, Dan’s involvement has encouraged some of his fellow band mates to sign up for one of his spring courses.

He has also been recruited to work in a consultative manner with Siena’s Franciscan Center for Service and Advocacy and Office of the College Chaplain. He is helping to develop a resource guide and theological reflection program from a Franciscan perspective for students and staff participating in domestic and international service trips.

“I will be initiating the program in March when I go to the Dominican Republic with a group of students,” he said. It will also be used for an alternative spring break immersion trip led by Shannon O’Neil of the Siena College Women’s Center.

Inspired By Dedication
After spending two summer assignments serving at St. Anthony Shrine in Boston and one in Cochabamba, Bolivia, Dan said he appreciates the opportunity to truly practice his skills as a college instructor.

Before coming to Siena, the Utica, N.Y., native had already been active in academic work beyond graduate studies, having published more than 20 scholarly and popular articles.

“The research and publication part of academic ministry was something I was already aware of as a strength and interest,” he said, “but I needed to explore the teaching side of that way of friar life.” He added: “There really is no other way to discern whether or not God is calling you to a particular form of ministry than to do it.”

Despite living as a friar for nearly six years now, Dan — like many other Holy Name friars — did not have “a very good sense” of the day-to-day life of Siena or SBU friars. “I have been very inspired by the dedication and work of the friars here at Siena,” he said. “I have found myself wonderfully blessed by the example of my brothers as well as learning a lot from their wisdom, example and advice.”

Utilizing ‘New’ Media
Amidst the other recent changes in his life, Dan has immersed himself in social media — with extensive use of websites like Facebook and Twitter and with frequent updates to his blog, “Dating God,” which now has more than 200 entries.

“I take seriously the call to evangelization that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Pope Benedict XVI have talked about in recent months concerning the Internet, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other web-based media.”

He admitted to initial reluctance toward creating a blog, but has found himself “really getting into it.” He said, “For me it is a very real ministry, a way to connect with hundreds of people daily, offering a particular  — not “the” — Franciscan perspective on prayer, theology, current events, culture, entertainment and a variety of topics.”

“Dating God” was the result of “strong encouragement, bordering on insistence” from Dan’s publisher, St. Anthony Messenger Press. His forthcoming book on contemporary spirituality with the Cincinnati-based publishing house is one of three he is currently writing. In addition, scholarly articles by Dan will appear in a variety of religious journals, and he has been invited to give several lectures, including one for the Thomas Merton Society in New York City on Jan. 29.

dan“I am also working on a very exciting book with Robert Lentz, OFM.” The two friars are developing a unique project on interreligious constructive theology. “Robert is creating new icons that work together with my text in a dynamic and interrelated way,” said Dan, who plans to profess solemn vows this summer.

With one semester down and one to go, Dan cannot say enough about how valuable the experience has been for him. “My internship year so far at Siena has given me great experiences in and out of the classroom, and the feedback from my teacher mentors has been very positive,” he said.

“Of course, every particular ministry and friar assignment is a process of dual-discernment that takes place as a friar comes to better understand God’s gifts in his own life, while the Province also comes to recognize those gifts of each friar and assess the ministerial needs of the Province.” In light of that, Dan said, “I can absolutely see myself continuing in the ministry of education after solemn profession and ordination.”

— Rebecca Doel is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.

Editor’s note: The full text of Dan’s interview for this profile appears on his blog, “Dating God.” Future articles in this series will feature friars Frank Critch, OFM, Stephen DeWitt, OFM, and Eric Dwayne Fernandes, OFM.