Friar News Briefs

HNP Communications Friar News

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 The next issue of the HNP Today newsletter is scheduled for distribution on Feb. 12.

From the Administration
The first of three retreat programs for friars affected by the Province’s withdrawal from nine Fraternities-in-Mission is taking place this week at St. Francis Springs Prayer Center in Stoneville, North Carolina. Organized by Provincial Councilor David Convertino, OFM, and a committee of three friars, the retreats are designed to help friars adjust to personal changes that will come as a result of their departure this summer from their FIMs. Friars at the nine FIMs, from which the Province announced its withdrawal earlier this month as part of a two-year Fraternal Ecology process, are finding ways to help parishioners adapt to the upcoming changes at their ministry sites.
Schedule: The Provincial Office will be closed on Jan. 20 for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

► The Diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina, posted an Advent reflection by Jim Sabak, OFM, on its website. In his reflection, Jim notes that there are more days of Christmas in January (12 days, ending with the Baptism of Jesus) than there are in December (seven, beginning with Christmas Day). “As a people of faith, Christmas continues into the month of January… allowing us to move deeper and deeper into what it means to be given the greatest gift of all – affirmation of our dignity as human beings and this wonderful act of God’s graciousness in becoming one like us, telling us that being human is the other side of what it means to be divine,” Jim said.

► On Jan. 6, a group of 30 students from Siena College received a personal welcome from Pope Francis during his papal blessing and Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Square. The visit to the Vatican was part of the group’s Franciscan leadership-focused pilgrimage to Italy led by Mark Reamer, OFM, Siena’s vice president for mission. Several media outlets covered the event, including the Albany Times Union newspaper and News10 ABC.

Paul O’Keeffe, OFM, of Boston, was featured in the December 2019 edition of St. Anthony Messenger magazine. Part of the “Followers of St. Francis” series, the article describes Paul’s mission experience before he joined the Order, and Province, in 2004, as well as his current work as a counselor and pilgrimage leader with the Province’s Franciscan Missionary Union. “We have been promoting missions through mission trips and pilgrimages for college students, parish groups and individuals,” Paul says in the article, which featured some of his mission trips, including a 1996 visit to Kenya where he met the then-director of Franciscan Mission Service Joe Nangle, OFM. “Every time I go back to Assisi, I’m struck by how free St. Francis was in his love for God. He also had a great humility that still escapes me. But in all that I do, that’s what I strive for.” Paul spent last Dec. 24 to 31 in Assisi and neighboring areas with a group of students from Alvernia University in Reading, Pennsylvania, and the University of St. Francis in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Jeffery Jordan, OFM, who is also stationed at St. Anthony Shrine,  participated in the pilgrimage.

►  On Dec. 9, Joe Nangle, OFM, addressed an interfaith vigil outside the national headquarters of U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Washington, D.C. The event marked the one-year anniversary of the tragic death of Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin, the 7-year-old Guatemalan girl who died of dehydration and shock after being arrested by agents in New Mexico. Joe, who described the emotional vigil as “quite impressive,” was featured in an article titled “Coalition cites lack of medical treatment in migrant children’s deaths” in the National Catholic Reporter.

► Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen, OFM, hosted a meeting last week of the leaders of the US-6 provinces – the OFM communities that are working toward unification through the Revitalization and Restructuring Process. The six provincials met in New York City from Jan. 6 to 8 and discussed a range of topics including the hiring of a project manager, the creation of a national vocation office, new formation personnel, and the importance of communication during the restructuring process.  Also participatin in the three-day meeting were the three moderators — Dan Anderson, OFM, of St. John the Baptist Province, John Eaton, OFM, of Sacred Heart Province, and Larry Hayes, OFM, of Holy Name.

Dominic Monti, OFM, was in California this past weekend taking part in a strategic planning session of the board of the Commission on the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition, known as CFIT, at Mission San Luis Rey in Oceanside. Dominic has served as a professor of Franciscan studies at St. Bonaventure University in Western New York since 2014.

► In the December 2019 issue of Making All Things New, the e-newsletter of Mt. Irenaeus, Kevin Kriso, OFM, reflected on two subjects: Laudato Sí, the encyclical of Pope Francis released in May 2015, and a retreat held last fall at the Mountain, called “Opening the Eyes of Our Hearts: Seeing as St. Francis Saw.” In his reflection on the retreat, Kevin said, “We slowed down and spent time in nature, our common home. We observed the connections in creation and, hopefully, awakened our hearts to wonder. If you are in need of a life, read St. Francis Canticle of the Creatures. Let the words permeate your heart. They are full of hope and inspiration and give us a wonderful way to understand that we are all one, and indeed siblings who share a common home.” Other news from Mt. Irenaeus can be found on its website

Joe Kotula at the wall on the border between the U.S. and Mexico. (Photo courtesy of Joe)

► Joe Kotula, OFM, of West Clarksville, N.Y., traveled to the Arizona-Mexico border last fall to witness firsthand the inhumane conditions that migrants are forced to endure. While staying with friars in Elfrida, Arizona, from Nov. 27 to Dec. 19, he submitted these observations to the HNP Communications Office: “Construction of the border wall continues near ports of entry and ends where no one lives. It is 30 feet high in this area, and in other places, it is adobe wall with concertina wire. It looks like a maximum-security prison. They call this PTD – prevention through deterrence. The wall funnels border-crossers out into the desert where it is very dangerous to cross,” added Joe, who lives at the Mt. Irenaeus Franciscan Mountain Community. Between 1999 and 2018, Humane Borders collected data on 3,339 migrant deaths – and that, noted Joe, doesn’t include the bodies that are never discovered. He explained how migrants who have been living in the U.S. for years are put in danger. “They have families and jobs, they pay taxes and contribute to society. They let down their guard for a day, are caught and get deported – and now their families have no income and need support. Their journey then brings them back to the border, trying to cross over and reunite with their families. It is a very unjust situation.” He noted that in the past few years, thousands of families have fled from their homeland because of violence and threats by gangs. He met people who have journeyed many miles to seek asylum in the U.S., and he visited a safe migrant shelter in Sonoyta, Mexico, where approximately 140 people – 35 of them single men, the rest are families – waiting for the right time to attempt to cross the border. “I also met an infant who was born just two weeks before in the hospital and is back in the shelter with her mother and little brother. I looked into their eyes and saw hope. They trust God and are hopeful that they will be summoned for an interview to be considered for asylum,” Joe said. “Experiencing these migrant families and individuals in the shelters forced me to reflect on the words of Jesus – ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Can anyone really believe that this wall is an expression of the words of Jesus?”

Dan Horan, OFM, delivered the keynote address – titled “Christ Our Light Has Come, But Why? Renewing our Understanding of the Reason for the Season” – at the annual Diocese of Reno Conference on Jan. 3. He also delivered two workshops, one on modern Christian discipleship, and the second on theology of creation in light of the Franciscan tradition. On Jan. 10, Dan led a workshop on Laudato Sí and Franciscan theology of creation for the OFM postulants at Holy Name College in Silver Spring, Maryland. He continues to write a twice-monthly column for National Catholic Reporter, and will release on Jan. 15 the first episode of season six of The Francis Effect Podcast, which he co-hosts. Information about his activities can be found on the Daniel P. Horan, OFM Facebook page.

► Casey Cole, OFM, who was ordained to the priesthood last summer, celebrated his first Christmas Mass and posted on his website his homily, which describes the symbolism of the manger.  “This manger is a sign of the fact that Jesus is willing to make sacrifices, endure pain. This is not a fancy incubator at an expensive hospital, not a sign of luxury or comfort. Forget about thread count! This is a wooden box with hay in it, a place that none of you would place your own children,” Casey said in his homily. “In receiving the Eucharist from this altar, coming to worship the baby in this manger, we do not simply come to witness a miracle, we come to be transformed by what we receive, and to take up the mission that he started. And so, just as the manger says a lot about who Jesus was, the altar that we gather around says a lot about us.” The Mass was celebrated at the Catholic Center at the University of Georgia, where Casey has been stationed since July 2019. An announcement is also posted on his website about his new book, titled Let Go: Seven Stumbling Blocks to Christian Discipleship, which is set to hit stores Jan. 30, just in time for Lent.  The book is divided into seven chapters, which Casey said means that it could be started on the Wednesday, Thursday, Friday or Saturday before the first Sunday of Lent, and then one chapter a week thereafter and finished by Easter. “Talk about a great way to prepare for the feast!” says Casey. Also on his website are videos titled “The Church Has Let Me Down” and “50 Reasons I Love Being Catholic.”

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

  • Franciscan Volunteer Ministry
  • Renovation of St. Bonaventure Church in Allegany, N.Y.
  • Members of the 2019-20 postulant class

— Compiled by Jocelyn Thomas