NEW YORK — Dozens of friars and their former classmates reunited last month to share liturgy, a meal and stories at the Friar Family Reunion on West 31st Street. The event, organized by Michael Carnevale, OFM, began with a Mass at St. Francis of Assisi Church celebrated by Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, and concluded with a reception at San Damiano Hall down the street.
Approximately 45 former friars and their guests attended the April 20 gathering, according to Michael. “From the response that I got from those who attended, it was a great success and something that all who attended enjoyed.”
One attendee, Edward Trochimczuk, is a former friar who now works at St. Francis of Assisi Parish as director of volunteer ministry.
“The reunion was a time of great joy,” he said. “It was a time that emphasized our connectedness to Holy Name Province, regardless of where our paths have taken us in life. It was a pleasure to meet and socialize with former friars and their partners or spouses. Everyone enjoyed the evening, which brought us closer together and reconnected us by our common faith and ministry.” Trochimczuk was a friar from 1978 to 1985.
Andrew Reitz, OFM, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish, also enjoyed the time to reconnect with men he hadn’t seen in years.
“One of the first persons that I talked with — whom I didn’t recognize — was the friar who had been assigned to my parish in Allegany at the time that I was leaving for Callicoon, Matthew Quinlan,” he said, referring to the village where the Province’s seminary had been located. “We had time to catch up — 50 years later. Another person who talked to me was Gene Joyce, who reminded me that he and his wife Patty’s anniversary was coming up. I had presided at their wedding. I couldn’t remember how many years ago it was, so I asked him. The response was: ‘It will be 40 years!’”
Michael expressed interest in forming an ‘alumni group’ to help former friars stay connected through annual retreats and reunions, and a quarterly newsletter informing them about what is going on in the Province and with their classmates.
Andrew saw a willingness from participants to stay connected with the friars. “There was interest in doing this more frequently by forming an alumni group, and I think that this is a good idea,” he said. “I noticed much interest in staying connected to us, and there are some whose professional abilities could be a great help to us.”
Though some of his classmates decided to put aside the habit and enter another walk of life, Michael still saw the Franciscan charism in those who attended.
“Walking around seeing the men was a great treat and it brought back some wonderful memories,” he said. “I had not seen some of my classmates for 40 years and other men even longer.
“But what was so evident was that the Franciscan spirit is alive in all who attended and that there is a great love for the Province,” added Michael, who marked his 50th year as a friar in 2011. “Thank you to all for coming. I hope that we can be continue to be in contact and move ahead with plans for the future.”
— Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province. The photos with this story were provided by Michael.