WASHINGTON — Fr. Larry Dunham, OFM, of St. John the Baptist Province, began his term of office as guardian and commissary of the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land last month. General Definitor Fr. Francis Walter, OFM, accepted his profession in the name of the Order.
Fr. Larry replaces Fr. Jeremy Harrington, OFM, who completed a six-year term as guardian in July. Previously, Fr. Larry served as provincial minister of Our Lady of Guadalupe Province based in Albuquerque, N.M., from 2000 to 2009.
Several HNP friars have served in the Custody of the Holy Land, includingRaphael Bonanno, OFM, Edward Dillon, OFM, and John Rudy, OFM, as well as the late Bernardine Bidinger, OFM, Edmund Murphy, OFM, Thomas Manning, OFM, Honorius Santoriello, OFM, and Leonard Walsh, OFM. Prior to the 1970s, many of Holy Name Province’s priests were ordained at the monastery.
Edward Flanagan, OFM, has been stationed at the more than 100-year-old monastery for five years. He performs sacramental ministries, teaches a weekly scripture class and organizes occasional days of recollection in the Washington area, as well as priests’ retreats in various dioceses of the United States. Edward lives with 19 other friars — representing eight provinces of the Order — as well as 10 student priests, both diocesan and religious, who live there while studying at various schools in the Washington area.
Fr. Larry’s Background
Born in Detroit, Fr. Larry — shown at left in photo — grew up as a “military brat” who was stationed in many places with his parents, until he entered the St. John the Baptist Province’s minor seminary of St. Francis in Cincinnati, according to a post on the English-speaking Conference’s website. Fr. Larry professed his final vows as a Franciscan in 1967 and was ordained a priest in 1974.
Throughout his years of ministry, he has served in vocation and parochial roles, the Native American apostolate, social work, as a military chaplain for the Navy — a veteran of Desert Shield and Storm — and provincial leadership. Fr. Larry also served as president of the ESC from 2003 to 2005.
He holds a master of science degree in education and a master of divinity from St. Leonard College, the St. John the Baptist Province theologate in Dayton, Ohio.
Franciscan Friars in Syria
Recently, Fr. Larry spoke briefly about friars living in Syria in a video that appeared on the YouTube channel of SJB Province.
“We have 11 ministries in Syria. We are having a difficult time communicating with friars there,” he said. “They are in very dire, difficult circumstances. We have had our schools bombed and churches and friaries destroyed.
“But what makes me so proud to be a Franciscan is that none of the friars in Syria have abandoned the country. They have decided that they are staying with the people throughout all of their suffering and trouble,” he continued. “I’m very edified by the life of the Franciscans in Syria. Despite the difficulties they’re going through, they desire to stay there and bring in that terrible conflict some spirit of Gospel joy and hope that was the mark of St. Francis of Assisi. They’re doing it and I’m really proud of them.”
This summer, a video tribute to Fr. Jeremy was posted on the Franciscan Monastery’s website which also includes information about tours, pilgrimages and events. On Sept. 17, the friars will celebrate “a special milestone: the 114th anniversary of the dedication of the Memorial Church of the Holy Sepulchre at the Monastery.”
— Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province. In the above photo, Fr. Larry is pictured on left with General Definitor Fr. Francis Walter, OFM.