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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 that have taken place in locations around the United States and one that is being planned for New York City in May. For more information, email the friars, contact the HNP Communications Office, or visit links to the parishes and organizations mentioned.

To provide news for future articles, email information to communications director Jocelyn Thomas. The next issue of the HNP Today newsletter is scheduled for distribution on April 8.

From the Administration
The Provincial councilors held their most recent meeting on Feb. 19 and 20 at the Provincial Office. After reflecting on Pope Francis’ post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Querida Amazonia, they discussed timely topics that included the retreats held for friars affected by the Fraternal Ecology Process withdrawals, JPIC resources, the selection of Siena College’s new president, a six-month report by the Province’s director of health and wellness, and a report on compliance issues. The next council meeting is scheduled for March 22 to 25 .
As many offices and other organizations in the New York area are doing, the Provincial Office is making accommodations for staff members to modify their schedules and commuting methods to remain safe during the coronavirus pandemic. To reduce their exposure to large crowds – and therefore, the chance of contracting the virus – they are working remotely and also modifying their travel schedules. The Provincial Administration has provided guidelines to friars about travel as well as about visiting nursing homes during this time when the governors of New York and other states have declared states of emergency.
On Feb. 22, the friars officially withdrew from St. Joseph-St. Maximilian Kolbe parishes in Orlando, Florida, as part of the Fraternal Ecology Process. This ended two-and-a-half years of service at the parish by the Province, which announced on Jan. 3 its intention to withdraw from nine Fraternities-in-Mission by June 30 of this year.

Christopher VanHaight, OFM, pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Durham, North Carolina, participated in the first of a series of pilgrimages for members of the six OFM provinces involved with the Revitalization and Restructuring Process. From Feb. 13 to 20, he and 22 other friars traveled to the missions in northern California. “It was a great blessing to have been able to join brother friars from across the country as we journeyed on pilgrimage together to several of the northern California missions, including Mission Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Jose, and San Francisco,” said Chris. “We were led by two great friars, André Cirino, OFM, and Joe Schwab, OFM, who are passionate about the history and spirituality of these important Franciscan sites.” They were also joined by Andrew Galvan, curator of Mission Dolores in San Francisco and a descendent of the local Ohlone people who delivered a powerful presentation about the native experience in the missions. A highlight of the pilgrimage, said Chris, was joining for Mass at the grave of St. Junipero Serra, OFM, at Mission San Carlos in Carmel. “But the most important aspect of the pilgrimage,” he said, “was being together as brother friars, learning about one another and recognizing how much we have in common, no matter which province we were from.” Other HNP friars on the pilgrimage were Joe Juracek, OFM, Tony LoGalbo, OFM, and Gerald Mudd, OFM.

► On Feb. 27, Pat Tuttle, OFM, and St. Anthony of Padua Church and School in Greenville, South Carolina, where he is pastor, received the Spirit Award from the United Way of Greenville at the organization’s annual awards gala. More than 1,000 people from companies and non-profit organizations around Greenville County attended the event. “The award is a tremendous honor,” said Susan Cinquemani,  a member of the school staff who shared a video about Pat and the parish that United Way produced and showed as part of the presentation.

“The award acknowledged the longstanding leadership, advocacy, service and impact that Pat and St. Anthony Church and School have had on the community.  Many in the audience looked quite emotional. All were gathered to celebrate service, volunteerism, and dedication to those in the community — as Patrick says, other-centered, self-sacrificing individuals.” Several days after receiving the award, Pat was quoted in a Feb. 29 New York Times article titled “Why This Trump-Leaning Corner of South Carolina Has the Jitters,” in which he expressed his concern about changes in the city of Greenville.

► Paintings by Michael Reyes, OFM, were featured at an art exhibit at New York Studio School in New York City from Feb. 28 to March 6. Along with three other master of fine arts students, Michael showed nine of his works from previous semesters as preparation for his upcoming master thesis show scheduled in May. “The pieces ranged in size – as small as 12” x 12” to a huge piece that is 40” x 72” – and the subjects varied from landscapes to figurative paintings,” said Michael, who professed his final vows as a friar in 2015 and is currently in his final semester at the New York Studio School, where he is working toward his master in fine arts degree.

► More than 30 people who contribute their time and talent in various capacities to St. Francis of Assisi Parish in New York City participated in a retreat for volunteers at the Loyola Jesuit Center in Morristown, N.J. The Feb. 7 to 9 retreat was led by Andrew Reitz, OFM, pastor, along with staff members Meredith Augustin, Joseph Nuzzi, and Ed Trochimczuk. A photo of the attendees appeared in the March 1 bulletin of St. Francis of Assisi Parish and an assortment of photos are on the parish website.

John O’Connor, OFM, has established a security committee at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Triangle, Virginia, where he is pastor, because of recent warnings by U.S. government officials that houses of worship have become soft targets. The Church Worship Security program was presented recently by Bishop Michael Burbidge and chancery officials to pastors in the Arlington Virginia Diocese as a model for parishes to adopt. “The program involves all parishioners and 21 law enforcement officers representing numerous federal and local law agencies,” John explained. Each of the seven weekend Masses at St. Francis in Triangle now has at least one plainclothes armed law enforcement officer present. “It is indeed a sad commentary on the current state of affairs in our nation that such a program is necessary,” said John, noting that all of the officers serve on a volunteer basis and will be meeting regularly to discuss procedures and tactics in the event of an active shooter situation. Details of this program are being made available to pastors and those in leadership positions at all parishes in the Arlington Diocese. They are also available to HNP friar-pastors by contacting John, who recently was among Catholic leaders from around the country that attended the Catholic Partnership Summit-Leadership Roundtable Conference in Washington, D.C., from Feb. 28 to 29. Nearly 300 attendees included bishops and the presidents of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, Catholic Relief Services, and several Catholic colleges and universities. The highlight of the event, said John, was experiencing the energy of the attendees. “I was impressed with the number of participants, the presentations, and the enthusiasm for moving the Church forward. I took away a great sense of hope,” he said.

Barry Langley, Richard McFeely, Bob Frazetta, Joe Nangle, and Jerry Mudd at the retreat in Florida. (Photo courtesy of Barry)

► On Jan. 27, more than two dozen friars from around the country – including five HNP members – gathered at San Pedro Spiritual Development Center in Winter Park, Florida, a facility operated by the Diocese of Orlando, for the second of two 2020 interprovincial retreats. It was led by Sr. Diane Bergant, CSA, from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. “Sr. Diane offered insight on several topics – the covenant of God with the Israelites, New Testament themes of the Kingdom of God and the Beatitudes, and how all of this is reflected in the writings of Pope Francis. She also offered some insights for us Franciscans as we continue the Revitalization and Restructuring Process,” said Barry Langley, OFM, one of the five HNP friars who attended the retreat. The other participants were Bob Frazzetta, OFM, Richard McFeely, OFM, Jerry Mudd, OFM, and Joe Nangle, OFM.

Kevin Mullen, OFM, participated in a meeting with the provincials of the five other OFM provinces involved in the Revitalization and Restructuring Process. Held on Feb. 24 and 25 in Chicago, the US-6 provincials met with members of a consulting firm that has been hired to guide the unification process of the six provinces. Provincial Vicar Larry Hayes, OFM, as one of three US-6 moderators, also participated in the meeting.

The program for the Mass in memory of the PANYNJ members who died at the World Trade Center 27 years ago. (Photo courtesy of Jorge Martins)

► On Feb. 26, Ash Wednesday, Brian Jordan, OFM, celebrated a memorial Mass at St. Francis of Assisi Church in New York City in honor of the members of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey who died in the World Trade Center bombing 27 years ago – on Feb. 26, 1993. The PANYNJ Police Honor Color Guard and Police Pipe & Drums presented the colors, and the National Anthem was sung by Gilbert Ramos, a Port Authority police officer. Brian said he believes the Mass – commemorating the Feb. 26, 1993 bombing – served as a bridge between the experiences of that day and the horrific events of September 11. In his homily, Brian spoke of the sadness of the loss of seven lives – six and an unborn baby – in the 1993 bombing. “It is important to live our lives in a way that, when we die, the world will cry and God will smile on you! Twenty-seven years ago today, the world cried. May those who died feel the peace of the Lord,” Brian said. PANY/NJ Chairman Kevin O’Toole and Rick Cotton, executive director of PANY/NJ, participated in the memorial.

Dan Horan, OFM, participated in the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress last month at which he delivered two workshops titled: “We are Called, Loved, and Sent: Spiritual Wisdom from Pope Francis” and “Loving the Dust We Are: Renewing our Understanding of the Human Person.”  While there, he also celebrated Mass for the exhibitors. Earlier in February, Dan spoke about Laudato Si’, the encyclical released in 2015 by Pope Francis, at St. Clement Church in Chicago in a presentation titled: “Toward an Integral Ecology: Combating Poverty, Protecting the Environment, and Upholding the Dignity of the Human Person.”  He also delivered the Roeben-Rauning Endowed Lecture in Social Justice and the Human-Animal Relationship at Carroll College in Helena, Montana on February 13. A recording of the lecture is available online here: https://youtu.be/PEcIcDQDYL0

Michael Harlan, OFM, has been reappointed to a four-year term on the board of trustees of St. Thomas Aquinas College in Sparkill, New York. He was elected to the board of his alma mater in 2016 after serving 10 years on the President’s Council of the college. Since 2005, Michael has served as Provincial Secretary of Holy Name Province.

Bill DeBiase showing the purple heart medal he received during his service in the Korean war. (Photo courtesy of Mike Duffy)

Bill DeBiase, OFM, received a surprise recently when three relatives arrived at St. Ignatius Nursing Home in Philadelphia, where he has lived since last year for a visit. This pleasant visit brought back a special memory. The family members – two nephews and a niece – brought him a Purple Heart from the U.S. Army. The distinguished military honor was given to Bill in recognition of his service with the Army Infantry during the Korean War. A member of the 32nd regiment, 7th infantry, from 1951 to 1954, William was wounded in July 1953 during the Battle of Pork Chop Hill. “My nephews and niece came on a planned visit in January and brought the medal with them,” he  said. “I almost cried when I looked at it because of all the memories that came back to me.” Five years ago, in July 2015, Bill discovered that he is in a photo displayed at the Philadelphia Korean War Memorial.

David Convertino, OFM, and his Development Office team are planning an event to mark the 90th anniversary of St. Francis Breadline. Called “The Breadline Experience,” the event will be held in two phases – tentatively at 7:30 a.m. and 12 noon – on May 14 in San Damiano Hall on West 31st Street in New York City. “In addition to giving participants the experience of walking the Breadline itself, it will provide videos to watch in different rooms of the hall,” David said. “One video will feature interviews with the homeless, while others will include a lecture by David Wood and one about homelessness in NYC.”

► On Feb. 24, Michael Calabria, OFM, made a presentation at the First International Conference on Qur’an Studies at the Institute for Humanities and Cultural Studies in Tehran, Iran. Michael spoke about his forthcoming book, The Language of the Taj Mahal: Islam, Prayer and the Religion of Shah Jahan. “I was very impressed by the level of scholarship at the Institute, and by the number of women engaged in the critical study of the Qur’an. Sadly, the conference, which was supposed to run for two days, was shortened to a single day due to the Coronavirus outbreak – which also curtailed my stay in Iran,” said Michael, who is stationed at St. Bonaventure University.

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

  • St. Francis Builds ministry trip to Puerto Rico
  • Earth Day
  • Ordination of Abraham Joseph, OFM, in May

 — Compiled by Jocelyn Thomas

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