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Five Franciscan Novices Profess First Vows

From left to right: Luis Manuel Rosado, Michael Lomas, James La Grutta, Antonio Luevano and Jason Damon. (Photo courtesy of Octavio Duran)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — On Aug. 6, the Feast of Transfiguration, five friars – Michael Lomas, OFM, and Antonio Luevano, OFM, of St. Barbara Province, and Jason Damon, OFM, James La Grutta, OFM, and Luis Manuel Rosado, OFM, of Holy Name Province – professed their first vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience as Franciscans at Old Mission Santa Barbara. Provincial Ministers Fr. David Gaa, OFM, of St. Barbara Province, and Kevin Mullen, OFM, of Holy Name Province, received the vows of their respective friars.

The service began with the song “These Alone Are Enough,” reminding the five men and all the friars that God’s love and grace alone are enough. This grace flows from the moment of our baptism, which was recalled by the pouring of holy water during the song, followed by the sprinkling rite.

Trusting in God
The Gospel chosen by the newly professed was from Matthew, where Jesus reminded his disciples not to worry about what to eat and wear, but to seek first the kingdom of God. Kevin, who proclaimed the Gospel and gave the reflection, called to mind St. Francis’ Letter to All the Faithful that “listening to the Word of God is the key dynamic of our life.” As the five men continue their journey in the Franciscan life, they were reminded to always trust in the providence of God as proclaimed in the Gospel reading.

The service concluded with Jason representing his class in thanking the novitiate team: Sr. Susan Rosenbach, SSSF, and friars Michael Blastic, OFM, Fr. Michael Jennrich, OFM, of Sacred Heart Province, and Br. Jeff Macnab, OFM, of St. Barbara Province. He also thanked the staff, parishioners, and friar community at Old Mission Santa Barbara, and friars who came near and far to be present on this special day, including the Conventual Friars from their novitiate in nearby Arroyo Grande.

Members of the interprovincial novitiate class of 2018-19 played a major role in the festivities. They helped with the music, prayers and readings. The novices also stepped up to the plate to cook for all the invitees at the reception and take care of the cleanup afterward, including making the guest bedrooms after their departures.

Kevin Mullen gives the homily during the liturgy. (Photo courtesy of Octavio Duran)

Profiles of the Newly Professed
Jason Damon is from South Wales, N.Y. While studying for his B.A. in history and a minor in political science at St. Bonaventure University in Western New York, he frequently participated in the prayer life of the Franciscans there. He desires a life and vocation with meaning, “to wake up every day with the goal of helping people.” After profession, Jason will move to Chicago to begin his theological studies at Chicago Theological Union to pursue ordination as priest.

James La Grutta is a native of Beacon, N.Y. He met the friars while pursuing his bachelors in political science degree at Siena College in Loudonville, N.Y. His inspiration came mostly from the Franciscans’ direct work with the poor and the disenfranchised, particularly in a fraternal setting. He will also move to Chicago to pursue a master’s in divinity.

Michael Lomas was born in Visalia and grew up in San Jose, Calif. He started in the bachelor’s program in philosophy at Holy Names University in Oakland. He also worked as youth and young adult minister for the Diocese of San Jose. This led to an encounter with a former friar who was working for the diocese, who inspired Michael to join the Franciscans. He hopes to continue his passion in working with youth. After profession, he plans to complete his B.A. in philosophy at University of San Diego while living at Mission San Luis Rey in Oceanside, Calif.

Antonio Luevano hails from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. He holds a B.A. in religious studies from Humboldt Universit in Arcata, Calif. While working for the Diocese of San Bernardino, he attended the Franciscan School of Theology in Oceanside. His interactions with friar students and professors there inspired him to join the Franciscans. After profession, he will move to Mission San Luis Rey to finish his master’s degrees in divinity and theological studies at FST.

Luis Rosado is a native of Puerto Rico. He has an associate degree in criminal justice and is also a certified and experienced emergency medical technician. He discovered the friars through the Holy Name Province website and was inspired by their ministerial outreach and fraternal spirit. He will begin his theological studies for ordination at CTU.

— Br. Sam is a member of St Barbara Province and is stationed at the Arizona-Mexico border, where he is part of the Ite Nuntiate community. He recorded a video of the simple profession, which is available on USFranciscans’ new YouTube channel.

Editor’s note: Information about Holy Name Province’s formation program can be found on www.BeAFranciscan.org.

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