ESC Vocation Directors Attend Mega-Conference in Illinois

Maria Hayes Franciscan World

LIBERTYVILLE, Ill. — Fr. Michael Suruka, OFM, of Assumption of the BVM Province, was elected to serve as president of the vocation directors committee of the English-speaking Conference during the biennial Franciscan Vocation Directors Mega-Conference.

The Sept. 8 to 12 meeting — attended by HNP vocation director Brian Smail, OFM — was held at the National Shrine of St. Maximilian Kolbe, or Marytown, operated by the Conventual Franciscans of the St. Bonaventure Province, in Libertyville.  Present for the conference were vocation directors from the Order of Friars Minor, the Capuchins, Conventuals, Friars of the Atonement, and the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word.

ESC Committee Elections
This year’s event included presentations by Br. Paul Bednarczyk, CSC, executive director of the National Religious Conference, Fr. William Hellmann, OFM Conv., and Fr. Patrick Greenough, OFM Conv., Provincial Minister of the St. Bonaventure Province. During the four-day gathering, each group of Franciscans also had time to meet with its own members, according to the Sept. 13 issue of NEWSbriefs, Assumption Province’s newsletter.

Several other elections to the vocation directors committee were made during the meeting of the ESC friars. Fr. Donald Miller, OFM, of St. John the Baptist Province, was elected vice president of the committee and Fr. Alvin Te, OFM, of Immaculate Conception Province, will serve as secretary and treasurer. The officers coordinate the regular meetings of the conference’s vocation directors and, in two years, will host the next meeting of the Franciscan Mega-Conference. Fr. Michael and Fr. Alvin are participating in the 2013 ESC communicators meeting being held this week in San Antonio, organized by  Jocelyn Thomas, communications director of Holy Name Province.

Other Vocation News
One of the ESC provinces recently appointed new personnel to its vocation office. The provincial administration of Sacred Heart Province, based on St. Louis, Mo., appointed Fr. Ducanh Pham, OFM, and Fr. Thom Smith, OFM, to lead its vocation office, currently located in Joliet, Ill.

Fr. Ducanh, who previously worked in the vocation office, has been appointed director. His background includes ministry as postulant director, as well as work with various youth groups and in parishes around the province.

Fr. Thom has been appointed associate director of the vocation office. He has served as a campus minister at Padua Franciscan High School in Cleveland and Quincy, Ill., University, as well as worked in various parish ministries around the province.

“Both bring a variety of experiences and talents to this very important ministry of helping guide those who are considering Franciscan life to come to see how God might be calling them to live out the Gospel,” according to the Sept. 3 issue of Around the Province, Sacred Heart Province’s newsletter.

The pair encouraged the friars to “promote vocations through the faithful and joyous witness of our life in the province. Speaking positively about the Franciscan charism, sharing ministerial stories, and encouraging one another are all important ways of promoting vocation to those we encounter.”

 Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.