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Friar News Briefs

The updates below describe assorted activities of Holy Name Province friars. They feature celebrations, presentations, and ministry events. For more information, email the friars, contact the HNP Communications Office, or visit links to the parishes and organizations mentioned.

To provide news briefs for future articles, email information to communications director Jocelyn Thomas at communications@hnp.org. The next issue of the HNP Today newsletter is scheduled for distribution on Jan. 15.

From the Administration
The Provincial Councilors met on Nov. 21 and 22 in St. Petersburg, Florida, after the conclusion of the 2019 guardians and pastors meeting. Among the topics discussed were a report from the general visitor Stephen O’Kane, OFM, the Franciscan Education Project, updates to the Province’s administrative manual, a new employee at the Provincial Office, and perspectives on the Fraternal Ecology Process. The councilors are weighing many factors as they prepare to make their decisions about which of the Province’s fraternities-in-mission will be maintained after the Provincial Chapter of 2020. The next Council meeting is scheduled for Dec. 16 to 18.

Friars are reminded that Dec. 20 is the deadline to register for one of the two 2020 interprovincial friar retreats scheduled for January. Information is available in a brochure prepared by retreat organizers.

► John Anglin, OFM, announced on Nov. 21 that his blog, The Wandering Friar, is closing. Providing missions and retreats as a member of the Franciscan Ministry of the Word, the Boston native also announced plans to launch a new blog with a different focus. The Wandering Friar has been a dimension of his ministry of preaching, as well as keeping friends, family and followers updated on his travels.

► Michael CalabriaOFM, has made several presentations in recent weeks about the encounter 800 years ago between St. Francis and the Sultan of Egypt and other topics. On Nov. 21, he spoke at Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin.  The following day Michael, who is the director of St. Bonaventure University’s Center for Islamic and Arab Studies, addressed the annual meeting of Franciscan Pilgrimage Programs in Chicago, Illinois. On Dec. 8, he spoke at the Islamic Society of the Southern Tier on “Faith and Fraternity in a Fragmented Age,” discussing “A Document on Human fraternity signed by Pope Francis and Ahmed al-Tayyeb, Grand Imam of Al -Azhar.”

►On Dec. 6, Peter Chepaitis, OFM, and Sr. Anna Tantsits, IHM, with whom he has been working for many years, participated in an annual pre-Christmas event in Middleburgh, N.Y., called Miracle on Main Street. Peter said he calls this street preaching because it takes place in the local public library and local businesses. “We share the Gospel message through the lyrics of Christmas carols and stories,” said Peter,  who marked his 50th anniversary as a friar last year. Her provided a description of the Middleburgh event that includes photos.

The newly-launched Franciscan Store offers a variety of products including books, religious articles, and greeting cards.

► St. Anthony’s Guild recently opened an online store that was co-developed by David Convertino, OFM, the Province’s executive director of development, and Paul O’Keeffe, OFM, associate director of the Franciscan Missionary Union. The Franciscan Store site, which went live the week of Nov. 18, offers booklets, religious articles, greeting cards, and other items. “We are especially proud of our ‘Simply’ series – which consists of 5”x 8” booklets about San Damiano, St. Anthony and St. Francis,” said David, who noted that sale proceeds help fund food and shelter for those in need.

The team at St. Francis Inn in Philadelphia. (Photo courtesy of St. Francis Inn)

► A photo of the 2019 St. Francis Inn team appears in last month’s issue of The Pilgrim newsletter. It shows Steve DeWitt, OFMFred Dilger, OFM, and Michael Duffy, OFM, along with their partners-in-ministry who serve meals daily to guests at the facility in the Kensington neighborhood. Michael also serves as the guardian of Juniper Friary in Philadelphia.

► On Nov. 27, National Catholic Reporter published a season-themed column by Daniel Horan, OFM. In “Rehabilitate Thanksgiving and Renew the Practice of Gratitude,” Dan wrote, “The challenge for us this week is to see Thanksgiving as an important opportunity to renew our commitment to the ongoing discipline of gratitude. In doing so, we might shed new light on an underappreciated and misunderstood holiday.” Earlier in November at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, Dan was a panelist during a discussion about ministerial priesthood in the context of religious life. An associate professor at CTU, Dan also attended the winter St. Bonaventure University Board of Trustees retreat in New York City on Nov. 22, and the American Academy of Religion in San Diego from Nov. 23 to 26. Information about Dan’s speaking schedule, as well as about his latest book, Catholicity and Emerging Personhood: A Contemporary Theological Anthropology, published by Orbis Books, can be found on DanHoran.com.

► The late Jim Hynes, OFM, was mentioned in an article published on Thanksgiving Day in The Record newspaper. The article described the new director of basketball strategy for the New York Knicks – who once worked for the Franciscan Center affiliated with Holy Name of Jesus Parish on the Upper West Side of New York City. In “Arcieri’s Passion lands his dream job,” the article covers the career of Michael Arcieri and the years he worked at Holy Name of Jesus. It describes how Jim told him that the Franciscans were planning to renovate and convert a vacant building on the corner of 97th Street and Amsterdam Avenue into a not-for-profit organization to benefit the community, including operating programs for kids, after-school activities and services for the homeless. Jim asked Arcieri to run the non-profit – and although he had a basketball-related job that required regularly traveling to Europe, it was an opportunity that piqued his interest.

► Michael Johnson, OFM, of Boston, was in Rome last month training at the Order’s General Visitor School for the general visitor role in which he will be serving Our Lady of Guadalupe Province at its Chapter in 2020. OLG friars are stationed mainly in the Southwest region of the United States.

► The friars at Mt. Irenaeus – Joe Kotula, OFM, Kevin Kriso, OFM, Louis McCormick, OFM, and Dan Riley, OFM – are inviting religious brothers and sisters to join them at the Franciscan Mountain Community in Western New York. “From the beginning, Mt. Irenaeus has been a project of friars, sisters and young and older laypeople who feel the need for renewal and personal transformation with the hope of healing and new life through a deeper movement into the contemplative life,” the friars said in the fall 2019 Mt. Irenaeus newsletter. “We believe there may still be religious brothers and sisters who would be interested in joining the Gospel manner of life and ministry if they knew about it. Our life at the Mountain is a new expression of an ancient Franciscan way of life. As was true in the days of St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi, each generation has to help revitalize a Church ‘that is falling into ruin.’”

► Emmet Murphy, OFM, of Butler, N.J., spent a month in Arizona this fall assisting migrants arriving in the United States. Traveling to the Southwest by train, he ministered from Oct. 5 through Nov. 9, living with friars stationed in Elfrida. “Each day was an enriching experience to live with my brothers and to reach out to the many migrant folks seeking a better life,” said Emmet, who celebrated his 65th anniversary as a friar this summer. “The Elfrida friar community is a very closely-knit fraternity of four friars who travel hundreds of miles to minister and visit other friars scattered in ministry throughout the Southwest.”

Tom Hartle (left) and pilgrimage participants in front of the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, Italy. (Photo courtesy of the HNP FMU)

Paul O’Keeffe, OFM – with assistance from  John Aherne, OFM, and Thomas Hartle, OFM – led the annual Franciscan Missionary Union pilgrimage to Assisi and Rome last month. “We had 21 participants along with Tom and John, who was training to work with me on future trips,” explained Paul, associate director of the Province’s FMU. The group consisted of Secular Franciscans from Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine, along with five individuals from St. Anthony Shrine in Boston and one from The Catholic Center at the University of Georgia in Athens, according to Paul, who provided a photo of the pilgrims in front of St. Francis Basilica, one of the many sites visited during the Oct. 6 to 17 trip. “We were in Assisi, LaVerna and Rome, where some of our group got to meet Pope Francis at his usual Wednesday audience in St. Peter’s square,” said Paul, who received a testimonial letter from a participant who found the pilgrimage particularly moving. Kathryn Swegart, OFS, wrote: “Since our return [from the pilgrimage to Assisi and Rome], I have said many times that it exceeded my expectations. Br. Paul, Fr. John and Fr. Tom always had our safety and spiritual growth in mind as we visited many holy sites considered sacred to Secular Franciscans. I returned feeling like I truly walked in the footsteps of St. Francis and St. Clare. I highly recommend this life-transforming pilgrimage.” The Franciscan Missionary Union is offering another pilgrimage to Assisi and Rome in October 2020. Those interested should contact Paul for more information or call him at 240-393-0532.

Andrew Reitz, OFM, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in New York, returned on Nov. 16 from France, where he led a pilgrimage through historic places. As with all the pilgrimages sponsored by the parish, the journey brought together a diverse group of people and formed them into a community in the time they were together, Andrew said of the trip. “In addition to Mass every day, we prayed on the bus going from one place to another, or we had Stations of the Cross,” said Andrew. The tour company arranged Mass locations during the pilgrimage – among them Crypt chapel at Chartres Cathedral, the chapel behind the main altar at Sacred Coeur, the American Cemetery at Normandy Beach, the Chapel of the Miraculous Medal, and the Liseux Basilica. “When we arrived at Chartres Cathedral on Nov. 11, the French were having a memorial service. To hear the choir and the organ in that tremendous building was very moving,” Andrew said. “Mass in the middle of the 9,000 graves at the American Cemetery was also an emotional experience. Throughout the pilgrimage, we saw many beautiful chateaux and historical sites – and 39 of the 41 in our group climbed to the monastery at the top of Mount St. Michel. Traveling together, meals together, and visits to places of pilgrimage created real bonding. Everyone returned with memorable experiences,” added Andrew.

► A reflection by Aaron Richardson, OFM, titled “Season of Creation,” was reprinted in the Nov. 20, 2019 issue of Re-cap, the newsletter of the Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Joseph in Wisconsin. The article by the student friar first appeared in the November 2019 issue of HNP Today.

► One of the Bells of Remembrance, created and shown by David SchlatterOFM, is now on the campus of St. Bonaventure University in Allegany, New York. Named the” encounter bell,” it is displayed outside the ministry center, according to an article published Nov. 14 in The Bona Venture student newspaper. The article says that the bell serves as a reminder of the 800th anniversary of the encounter between St. Francis of Assisi and the Sultan of Egypt. The bell was blessed by Francis Di Spigno, OFM, at the end of October, which concluded SBU’s Francis Month.

 Xavier Seubert, OFM, and Oleg Bychkov, a professor of theology at St. Bonaventure University, have co-edited a book on Franciscan art history – Aesthetic Theology in the Franciscan Tradition: The Senses and the Experience of God in Art, published by Routledge. A brief synopsis of the volume and list of the articles can be found online. In 2013, the Franciscan Institute at St. Bonaventure published a book that was co-edited by Xavier, titled Beyond the Text: Franciscan Art and the Construction of Religion.”

► A video called “It’s Time” was produced and released this fall by St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Greenville, S.C. In the video, Patrick Tuttle, OFM, pastor, describes what is needed for the church building to help keep it “a fitting temple. There’s a true life-giving spirit at the parish. This goodness of God around which we center ourselves has become a real fueling station for people who want to do the right thing,” Patrick says.

Edgardo Zea, OFM, of Siena College, passed his citizenship test and became a naturalized U.S. citizen on Nov. 15. Edgardo, who professed his final vows as a friar in 2012 and now teaches at an Albany-area school, is a native of Arequipa, Peru.

Topics that will be featured in future issues of this newsletter include:

  • Results of the HNP Fraternal Ecology Process
  • Profiles of retired HNP friars
  • Members of the 2019-20 postulant class 

— Compiled by Jocelyn Thomas

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