Eight Men Welcomed As Postulants

Karen Karaszewski Friar News

The postulant class of 2016. From left to right:

From left to right: Walter Liss, Gilbert Galindo, Jason Damon, Domingo Martinez, Troy Hillman, Joseph Annibale, James La Grutta, Luis Manuel Rosado, Michael Cerretti and Charles Miller. (Photo courtesy of Christian Seno)

SILVER SPRING, Md. — The chapel at Holy Name College was filled with supporters on Aug. 25 as the Province welcomed eight postulants inspired by the Holy Spirit to begin their vocational journey with the Franciscans.

During evening prayer, Joseph Annibale, Michael Cerretti, Jason Damon, Gilbert Galindo, Troy Hillman, James La Grutta, Domingo Martinez, and Luis Manuel Rosado received the Tau cross as a symbol of their desire to discern their vocation.

“I’m humbled by the many gifts these eight men bring to the Franciscan formation table and I’m blessed to know that they continue to discern God’s will in their lives, especially as they ask for God’s grace to prepare them for the challenge of a life spent in service and in the care of God’s people,” said Basil Valente, OFM, vocation director. “They’re great men and I wish them many blessings and much joy as they continue their journey with the friars.”


Friars from St. Camillus and Holy Name College bless the new postulants. (Photo courtesy of Christian)

Walter Liss, OFM, director of postulants, presided over the simple ritual attended by friars from Holy Name College and neighboring  St. Camillus Parish, as well as the newest group of Franciscan Volunteers assigned to St. Camillus.

During a transformative reflection, Vincent Cushing, OFM, quoted a second century saint — Irenaeus of Lyon — by inviting the community to reflect on the saint’s important words, “The glory of God is the human person fully alive.” And, directing his final remarks to the new postulants, he said, “That’s exactly what we want you to be for yourselves, for the Church and for the world.” Vincent also spoke about the meaning of discernment and prayer, and asked the postulants and the friars to be patient with one another during this journey.

Prior to the ceremony of reception, Erick López, OFM, a regional vocation director ministering at St. Camillus Church, celebrated Mass for the parishioners and the new postulants.

“At the end of Mass, I was truly inspired as the congregation presented a spontaneous song to the postulants, praying for them and welcoming them to Silver Spring and to St. Camillus Parish,” said Basil, who is stationed in New York City. “It was one of the most powerful and communicative expressions of love and welcome that I’ve seen in quite some time.”


According to Charles Miller, OFM, assistant postulant director, the men will participate inan orientation process and workshops before beginning their ministries in the Silver Spring area.

The 2016-17 postulants have a wide variety of backgrounds and have worked and studied in diverse geographic areas including New York, South Carolina, North Carolina, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Their vocation stories all include a tribute to the friars they have met along the way.

Meet the Postulants
Joseph hails from Charleston, S.C., and was received into the Catholic Church in 2012 on Easter. He has been an active member of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Greenville, S.C., where he assisted with the after school care program. He was also involved in the Catholic campus ministries while a student at Furman University. Joseph was introduced to the Franciscans through their ministry at Furman and St. Anthony’s Church. Joseph is attracted to the Franciscan community, prayer life and outreach to all people.

Michael, a native of North Carolina, is inspired by the friars’ humble and prayerful service and their strong and vibrant ministerial commitments. As a member of St. Andrew the Apostle Parish in Apex, N.C., Michael was as a “faith buddy” for a special needs child and taught faith formation at the parish’s elementary school. Having discovered the friars through YouTube and the Diocese of Raleigh’s vocations webpage, Michael has enjoyed the opportunity to know the friars of Holy Name Province, and especially the St. Francis of Assisi community in Raleigh.

Jason has been working as a full-time ministerial volunteer at Mt. Irenaeus, the Franciscan Mountain Retreat in West Clarksville, N.Y. Jason graduated from St. Bonaventure University where he was active in a variety of ministries on campus, participating frequently in the morning or evening prayer gatherings with the St. Bonaventure friars. At his home parish of St. Joseph’s in Holland, N.Y., Jason worked on the liturgy committee and served the Church as a Knight of Columbus and a member of the Secular Franciscan Order. He learned about the friars during  his time at St. Bonaventure University and is deeply inspired by the friars he has met there. He desires a life and vocation with meaning, “to wake up every day with the goal of helping people.”

Gilbert has been an active member of the organic discernment community at St. Francis Friary on 31st Street in Manhattan and is inspired by the person of St. Francis and his “expression of perfect joy.” Gilbert has extensive education and experience in music composition and music education. He has worked in a variety of roles in the music industry, including as a teaching artist at Education Through Music and as an independent DJ and music copyist. Prior to becoming a postulant, Gilbert was an active member of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in New York City, where he was involved with St. Francis Breadline and the RCIA program. Gilbert is looking forward to becoming better acquainted with the Franciscans and their many ministries during his postulant year.

Prior to his acceptance in the HNP postulancy program, Troy served with the Franciscan Volunteer Ministry in Camden, N.J., where he was active with both the Franciscans and St. Anthony of Padua Church. While a student at St. Bonaventure University, he participated in university ministries and led a variety of Franciscan retreats focusing on raising awareness of environmental care. He also ministered at The Warming House in Olean, N.Y., considered the oldest student-run soup kitchen in the nation. Troy is predominantly attracted to the Franciscan community way of life and direct service ministry opportunities. “The Franciscan message truly captures the heart of the Gospel,” says Troy, who says he enjoys “sharing the love of Christ with the world.”

James came to know the Franciscans of Holy Name Province during his time as a student at Siena College near Albany, N.Y. He served in the Franciscan Volunteer Ministry in Camden, and is inspired by the friars direct work with the poor and disenfranchised, particularly in a fraternal setting. “I have always experienced a strong sense of welcome and compassion when encountering the Franciscan community,” says James, “and I have always felt right at home” with the friars.

Domingo was attracted to St. Francis’ emphasis on poverty and the spirituality of the Incarnation, and discovered Holy Name Province through Internet research. He recently worked as a senior writer and researcher for AFL-CIO. Domingo has been an active parishioner at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, D.C., where he served on the faith formation committee and with the young adult ministry. He said he is open to sharing his life, his struggles, his joys, and his deep understanding of God and theology. After working with the friars in previous years, Domingo is excited to be joining his fellow postulants this year as he continues his discernment journey.

Luis has a professional background in paramedics and has worked for Essex County in New Jersey as an EMT. He has been an active parishioner at St. Aloysius Church in Newark, N.J., where he served as a maintenance worker and sacristan. He volunteered to be a medical assistant after the Haiti earthquake by attending to patients, delivering babies, and assisting in the emergency room. Luis learned about Holy Name Province through online research and is attracted to the Franciscans because of their ministerial outreach and their fraternal community spirit.

— Karen Karaszewski is a freelance writer based in Western New York.

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