ESC Update: Novitiate Workshops, Solemn Profession, Other News

Maria Hayes Franciscan World

Moisés Gutierrez Rivas leads a workshop on intercultural living. (Photo courtesy of Franciscan Interprovincial Novitiate)

The following updates summarize news from the English-speaking Conference of the Order of Friars Minor, comprised of provinces from the United States, Canada, England, Ireland, Malta and Lithuania. Next week, April 2 to 7, the provincial ministers of the ESC will gather for their biannual meeting. The spring meeting is taking place at the Emmaus Center near Dublin, Ireland.

 “Intercultural living is happening right now, in our communities, whether you want to see it or not.” This was one of the things that Br. Moisés Gutierrez Rivas, OFM, told roughly 60 novices during a three-day workshop on intercultural living that took place at the Siena Center in Racine, Wis. According to Sacred Heart Province’s newsletter, novices from the Inter-Community Novitiate program joined the OFM novices for the workshop, which took place earlier this month.

On March 11, friars from Sacred Heart and other provinces gathered to celebrate the solemn profession of Br. Ed Tverdek, OFM, who spent his supervised time in the province teaching philosophy at Quincy University in Illinois. Provincial Minister Fr. William Spencer, OFM, celebrated the Mass, and Fr. John Doctor, OFM, preached the homily.

 Have you ever seen an 87-year-old friar do a 40-yard dash? Fr. Hilarion Kistner, OFM, of St. John the Baptist Province was filmed jogging in his habit in front of St. Francis Seraph Friary in Cincinnati to raise money for St. Jude’s Research Center. The social media fundraising campaign was organized by St. Jude’s and the NFL Network, which will donate $1 to St. Jude’s every time a video is uploaded to Twitter with the hashtags #RunRichRun and #StJude. Fr. Hilarion, who celebrated his 88th birthday in March, was active in sports in his school days and continued running past the 40 required yards. “When he finally stopped, he wasn’t the least bit winded,” according to SJB’s website.

The San Damiano friar community in Cicero, Ill., created a new Lenten practice this year. On the evening of March 16, after the community meal, friars gathered in the kitchen to make several gallons of chili, accompanied by cornbread and coffee. The following morning, March 17, the memorial of St. Patrick, they took the food to the shopping mall across the street where day laborers wait for contractors to hire them. On the cold, damp and cloudy morning, the friars in their habits were a welcome sight, reports Around the Province, Sacred Heart’s weekly newsletter. The leftover food was donated to Franciscan Outreach for its shelter.

The 50th jubilee of Irish Franciscan Fr. Walter Gallahue, OFM, was celebrated last month in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, where he has served as a missionary since 1968. In addition to using the celebration as an opportunity to fete Fr. Walter for his many decades of service, the parish also used the occasion as a fundraiser. With the increase in parishioners, the parish hopes to build a new church.

On April 1, the St. John Passion Play will launch its 100th consecutive season. For more than half a century, Franciscans at St. John and St. Francis Seraph parishes in Cincinnati have produced, directed and promoted a play that has become a regional tradition. For the past 46 years, it has been an ecumenical enterprise. In honor of the anniversary, St. John the Baptist Province profiled the 30 friars who assisted with the play.

Several of the Franciscan churches in Cincinnati were featured in the video series “History in Your Own Backyard,” a vlog about historically significant buildings. The videos include pastor Fr. Al Hirt, OFM, describing St. Monica-St. George Parish-Newman Center, pastor Fr. Fred Link, OFM, describing St. Clement Parish, Fr. Frank Jasper, OFM, describing St. Anthony Shrine,  and Fr. David Kohut, OFM, describing St. Francis Seraph Parish.

Towards a Franciscan Missionary Spirit, an annual publication about the mission work of the English-speaking Conference, was released in February. In reviewing the document, Fr. Bill Minkel, OFM, of St. Barbara Province commented that “if there is a consistent, single thread in all of these accounts, it is that our fraternal presence is universally marked by a spirit of hope, gratitude, and impressible joy, even in the midst of otherwise dire circumstances.”

St. Barbara Province announced a “soft rollout” of its new provincial website earlier this month. The estimated project completion is April 1.

For more information, contact the provinces by phone or email, or visit the links to the parishes and organizations mentioned. Follow the English-speaking Conference on Facebook and Twitter for up-to-date information throughout the month.

Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.

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