NEW YORK — Four friars professed their final vows as Franciscans on Aug. 25 at a Mass at St. Francis of Assisi Church. They now begin new phases in their lives that include education and parish ministry.
The friars, originally from Canada and South America, made their profession during the 11 a.m. liturgy at the West 31st Street church. Francis Critch, OFM, Mario Gomez, OFM, Percy Osorio, OFM, and Edgardo Zea, OFM, made lifelong commitments to live the vows of Franciscans.Celebrant Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, concelebrated with Provincial Vicar Dominic Monti, OFM, secretary for formation and studies, andThomas Conway, OFM, director of post-novitiate formation. The deacon was Br. Geoffrey Muga, FMH, a resident of Holy Name College, Silver Spring Md., where Thomas is guardian.
In the profession program, the four friars spoke in two languages — English and Spanish — thanking all “who have made this day possible through your kindness, openness, support and love” as well as “our formation directors who have challenged and guided us through this process and continue to be brothers to us in this life of fraternity.”
They also acknowledged “the ministries we have been involved with and continue to minister in, which have given us courage and strength through your generosity and kindness to us on this journey. We have been blessed with your presence in our lives, and we are continually humbled by the depth of your faithfulness and love. To our families, in Peru, Canada, and the adoptive families we have encountered on our journeys — although many were unable to be here today — your spirit, love and support are felt each and every day of our lives. We would not be here today without the gift of your presence.”
John gave a special welcome on behalf of the friars as Francis, Mario, Percy and Edgardo prepared to move to the next phase of their commitment. He used his homily to compare the goals of living a life of discipleship with a race, timing the theme with the recent completion of the summer Olympics.
Races are won by those who keep focused, who have humor, and who have endurance and resilience, he said. “We do not walk the race alone.”
The Mass included a variety of people who visited from various locations. The lectors, for example, were Erick Lopez, OFM, of St. Camillus Parish, Silver Spring, and Yvonne Steiner, sister of Francis, who lives in Canada. Julianne Wallace, a staff member of St. Bonaventure University in Western New York, served as psalmist.
Four student friars, based at Holy Name College, served as ministers of the liturgy — George Camacho, OFM, Ross Chamberland, OFM, Gerald Hopeck, OFM, and Jeffery Jordan, OFM.
The newly-professed friars, who have varied backgrounds, said they felt joyful on the day toward which they’ve been working for six years. Their relatives and friends who came to New York City to support them traveled from states including Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and other regions of New York, as well as Canada and Peru.
Francis, 51, was raised in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada. After earning a bachelor’s degree in religious studies and philosophy from Memorial University in St. John’s, he attended St. Paul’s Seminary in Ottawa, Ontario, for four years. He worked with youth as a community outreach and family support worker with the department of child protective services in Newfoundland and British Columbia. He also studied at the culinary school of Camosun College, Victoria, British Columbia, and later owned a restaurant in St. John’s.
In 2006, Francis joined the Order of Friars Minor as part of Christ the King Province in Western Canada. He transferred to Holy Name Province during his novitiate in Wilmington, Del.
“I was taken by the friars’ commitment to ministry and to the fraternal life lived in the present, building on the past, and communicating their hope for the future,” Francis said. “The scope of the vision communicated and lived inspired me.”
Francis, who served a yearlong internship at St. Mary’s Parish in Pompton Lakes, N.J., from 2010 to 2011, graduated from the Washington Theological Union this past May. He plans to be ordained a deacon in September and a priest in November. He has begun his ministry at St. Francis Parish in Triangle, Va.
A native of Lima, Peru, Mario, 34, attended law school at the Catholic University of Peru. He was a member of a secular institute for six years, where he received religious formation, ministered to college students and discerned his vocation to religious life. Mario met the Franciscans in 2004, while visiting his sister in New Jersey.
“The open-mindedness and accepting frame of mind of the friars struck me from day one,” he said. “I found a group of men that I perceived as a community in which the values of fraternity among its members, and service to and solidarity with the poor, were cherished.”
After his profession, Mario will live at St. Anthony Shrine in Boston, Mass., where he completed a yearlong internship in June. He will pursue a master’s degree in pastoral ministry at Boston College.
“I believe my life externally will not change, as I have been living the vows for four years now,” he said. “Spiritually, however, it means the ultimate commitment to a life of service, fraternity, and itinerancy.”
Percy, 33, a native of Oxapampa, Peru, entered the Franciscan Order in the Peruvian Province of St. Francis Solano. After spending five years in formation, he left to become a nurse and actively participated in his parish as a catechist. Percy entered the formation program of the Peruvian Foundation of Holy Name Province in 2005.
Percy enjoys working with young people and especially with Mariano Gagnon, OFM, in the selva — tropical rain forest — area of the country. He is completing his bachelor’s degree in communications at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru.
Edgardo, 32, was born in Arequipa, Peru. He studied to be a laboratory technician and worked in the Peruvian health ministry and in private labs. He said he decided to become a friar because he wants to serve, to be a brother to others, and to provide what others lack. He would also like to “spread the Good News of the Gospels and follow the mission that God entrusted to St. Francis of Assisi to rebuild the Church.”
Edgardo recently completed a yearlong internship at Siena College outside Albany, N.Y., where he served as a spiritual assistant for students and also worked in prison ministry. He is returning to Siena, where he hopes to obtain his bachelor’s degree.
The Mass was followed by a luncheon in the Province’s San Damiano Hall, attended by friars and guests.
The day was “nice, though it also felt bittersweet,” said the Provincial Minister, realizing that this was the last solemn profession at which he will officiate. His term ends in 2014.
“In 2013, no Holy Name friars are scheduled to be professed or ordained,” said John.
— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.