Friar News Briefs

HNP Communications Friar News

The updates below describe recent activities of Holy Name Province friars. They highlight their personal projects – some serious and some lighthearted – as well as events at ministry sites.

For details about any of the information, email the friars, contact the HNP Communications Office, or visit links to the parishes and organizations mentioned. To provide news for future articles, send an email to communications director Jocelyn Thomas at communications@hnp.org.

From the Administration
The members of the 2017-20 Provincial Council met for the last time on July 29 through a Zoom conference, during which they discussed a timeline for the new administration recommended by Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen, OFM. The schedule includes events for the next two months, such as the distribution and discussion of the General Visitor’s report, the publishing of new assignments, and the completion of all moves by friars. The first meeting of the new Council took place on Aug. 6. At that Zoom gathering, Kevin presented his nominations for the lead positions in the offices of development, formation and studies, missionary evangelization, and treasurer, as well as outlined the agenda for the upcoming assignments meeting, taking place Aug. 11 through 19.

► The talents of various friars are featured in the spring/summer 2020 issue of The Anthonian Franciscan, the magazine published by St. Anthony’s Guild. The articles describe the ministry of John Anglin, OFM, of St. Petersburg, Florida, who for three decades has been a parish mission preacher, and the creativity of Paul Bourque, OFM, and Sebastian Tobin, OFM, of Boston, whose “handiwork offers a rare artistry.” The issue also features the work of George Camacho, OFM, of Siena College near Albany, New York, and Dan McLellan, OFM, and Robert Menard, OFM, who minister in Clemson, South Carolina. An article titled “A Virus Without Boundaries” describes how the Province’s members are “coping with the coronavirus pandemic in the best way they know how – by isolating themselves as much as possible while, at the same time, finding creative ways to minister in the spirit of St. Francis.” The articles include information from David Convertino, OFM, about St. Francis of Assisi Friary in New York City, Vincent Laviano, OFM, about St. Anthony Friary in St. Petersburg, and Frank Sevola, OFM, about St. Anthony Shrine in Boston. The Anthonian magazine can be found online and at HNP ministry sites.

► On Aug. 6, St. Francis Inn Ministries bid farewell to student friar Jason Damon, OFM, on his last day in Philadelphia, where he was stationed for his summer internship. In a Facebook post with photos, the leadership team at the Inn said: “We are so grateful for all of his hard work and hope he had as much fun as we did having him as a part of our team this summer! Safe travels and best of luck moving forward, Jason.” Several weeks earlier – on July 16 – St. Francis Inn Ministries said goodbye to the Franciscan Volunteer Ministers who had been based in the Kensington neighborhood since last summer.  Jason was one of two friars at the Philadelphia ministry this summer, as  Aaron Richardson, OFM, will be working at St. Francis Inn for his internship year.

The friary in Butler is getting a new elevator. (Photo courtesy of Paul Chelus)

Fred Dilger, OFM, reports that a renovation project at St. Anthony Friary in Butler, New Jersey, aimed at creating a safer structure for its residents, is progressing well. Since January, an addition has been under construction that will give the more than 20 friar residents of this 116-year-old building a new elevator, as well as decks at the end of each of its five floors.  The elevator will be larger than the current one, which holds two people and now, because of the pandemic, is being used by only one person at a time. The new elevator will fit up to 10 people and will be spacious enough to fit a gurney if necessary, according to Fred, the chair of the HNP Properties Committee. The addition will have three inside doorways – one to the elevator, another to a new stairway, and the third to a deck that will provide friars with a view of the nearby mountains. The new section of the building will appear as if it is part of the original building, he said. “We are marrying the design to the building by using stones.” The design was created by the same architect that designed the renovation to the St. Petersburg friary several years ago. Fred expects the addition to be completed late this fall. Patrick Fereday, OFM, who lives at the adjacent St. Anthony Parish Friary, is serving as site supervisor. The idea for adding the elevator dates back several yaars.  “Since John O’Connor’s administration, we’ve known the building needed a larger elevator,” Fred said. The last major renovation to the Butler friary was done in 2008.

Tom Donovan and guardian Frank Sevola at Tom’s celebration of 50 years as a friar. (Photo courtesy of Frank)

► The friars of St. Anthony Shrine in Boston celebrated the golden jubilee of Thomas Donovan, OFM, on July 8. He renewed his vows at evening prayer, which was followed by a festive preprandium and dinner. Tom, who has lived on Arch Street since 2007, professed his first vows as a Franciscan in 1970. “It was nice to celebrate with the friars here at the Shrine,” said Tom, adding that he is looking forward to next year’s Provincial celebration that will honor friars who have profession anniversaries in both 2020 and 2021. This year’s traditional Mass and reception in New York City was canceled because of the pandemic.

► Several Holy Name Province friars were quoted in a July 24 National Catholic Reporter article about Junípero Serra. In “Franciscans Grapple Colonial Legacy,” Dan Dwyer, OFM, Dan Horan, OFM, and Jud Weiksnar, OFM, gave their opinions about the 18th-century Franciscan priest, who was canonized in 2015. Junípero Serra “is credited with bringing Christianity to California and starting the first nine of 21 Spanish missions in the state. But his critics consider him to be one of California’s earliest colonizers, under whose watch Native Americans were beaten and brutalized,” according to the article, which also includes comments from other OFM friars in the United States.

Larry Ford, OFM, of New York City, participated in a Facebook challenge last month called the “25-day push-up challenge” — whereby participants do 25 push-ups each day for 25 consecutive days to raise awareness of how post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression can drive people to suicide. Because of a personal connection and the general desire to advocate for mental health, Larry did the push-ups and posted photos and videos online – on his page and on the Facebook page of Holy Name of Jesus-St Gregory the Great Parish, where he has been the pastor since 2014. “I lost a LeMoyne College classmate to suicide two years ago,” he said. “Also, I know lots of people who suffer from all sorts of mental illnesses. We are all experiencing some degree of anxiety. Also, I have benefitted from psychological counseling, so I thought it a personal and worthwhile endeavor. I’ve done different types of push-ups every day, all outside. My friends thought it meaningful and a bit funny.” During a homily at Mass near the end of the 25 days, Larry said, “We all need to remember that God loves us and wants us to be happy and that sometimes we have to remember that and choose happiness alongside sadness sometimes. There are a lot of people doing good things for others during the pandemic, and some are even doing 25 push-ups a day for 25 days.” Among the congregation was the Short family, close friends of Larry who came to Mass for the final time at Holy Name Church because they were a few days away from moving out of state. Apparently, the family was touched by his homily and the prayer of the faithful intention for those suffering and enduring mental illness, depression and anxiety. But they were really impressed that he met the push-up challenge. While he was chatting after Mass with Kristin Short, Larry asked her son, Mack, if he wanted to join him in that day’s 25 push-ups.  Mack agreed, so he and Larry hit the deck right in the church. There’s some push-up history between Larry and the family.  When they were watching a Notre Dame football game, he taught Mack about the tradition of the Fighting Irish cheerleaders – who with do a push-up for each point the team scored.  After Larry and Mack did their push-ups in the church, they looked into the camera that was recording the exercise and said, “To your health!”  A video was posted on the parish Facebook page.

The friars at Butler bless their guardian as he leaves for a new job in Chicago. (Photo courtesy of Paul Chelus)

► The friars at St. Anthony Friary in Butler, New Jersey, said farewell to Robert Frazzetta, OFM, last weekend with a special celebration to thank him for his years of service as guardian to the fraternal community. During evening prayer, vicars Tom Cole, OFM, and Bernie Creighton, OFM, led the other friars in special blessing of Bob, before the community held a going-away party for the guardian. Photos from the evening were provided by Paul Chelus, OFM. On Aug. 10, Bob departed for Chicago, where he is serving as director of post-novitiate formation at St. Joseph Friary.

Kyle Haden, OFM, is starting this academic semester at St. Bonaventure in Western New York as chair of the Theology and Franciscan Studies Department . “The previous chair decided to return to his previous institution and left a void in the position. I volunteered to be the interim chair, though no one in the administration is calling it interim, so I am simply ‘chair.’ At the end of last semester, I was granted tenure and promoted from assistant professor to associate professor.” Kyle is beginning his ninth year teaching at SBU.

► Dan Horan, OFM, of Chicago, gave a webinar on Aug. 4, titled “God is Not Fair and Other Reasons for Gratitude,” as part of the Gia Summer Ministry Series. On Sept. 1, Dan, an instructor at Catholic Theological Union, is scheduled to give a webinar as part of the “What’s Next?” series that explores the role of the laity in the Catholic Church. A recent National Catholic Reporter column written by Dan emphasized the value of relaxing. It was published on Aug. 5 and is titled “The Importance and Challenge of Doing Nothing.”

Raleigh parishioners thank the friars for their service over the years and wish them well. (Photo courtesy of the parish website)

The parish of St. Francis of Assisi in Raleigh, North Carolina, has created a page called Friar Farewell on its website that offers words of thanks to the friars who have served the community since 1987 and who, because of the Province’s Fraternal Ecology initiative, are withdrawing from the parish later this summer.

“With gratitude and prayer, we celebrate the Franciscan friars who have ministered with us over the past 33 years,” says the webpage that shows photos of the friars who served the parish. “We commemorate all they have brought to us and pray God’s blessings on them as they continue to serve the least among us.” Stephen Kluge, OFM, Steven Patti, OFM, and James Sabak, OFM, as well as friars who served before them, are featured on the webpage where new messages can be added. A recent issue of the parish bulletin described the farewell project.

Kevin Mackin, OFM, of St. Petersburg, Florida, announced earlier this month that he has created a website. “I’m planning on offering regular daily audio bible reflections as well as Sunday videos,” he said on his Facebook page.  “Hopefully these few minutes will keep us in touch with God in our daily lives. We are God’s people called to live our lives and bring good news to people.” The site’s address is FatherKevin.com.

On July 27, Jacek Orzechowski, OFM, and dozens of other immigrant rights advocates rallied outside of the Washington headquarters of U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement, calling on the agency to release children being held in detention with their parents.  “St. John Paul II reminds us that ‘the family is the sanctuary of life, a domestic church where we receive our formative ideas about truth and goodness, where we learn to be truly human,’” said Jacek in an article published by National Catholic Reporter, which showed a photo of him praying over a petition signed by 300,000 people calling for the release of the children.

The Franciscan Volunteer Ministry bids farewell to Chris Posch. (Image from the FVM e-newsletter)

In their August newsletter, the Franciscan Volunteer Ministers included a tribute to Christopher Posch, OFM, who died on July 5.  The tribute included photos, videos, and links to articles about Chris, who served as an FVM site supervisor from the mid-1990s until his death. “Chris exemplified a Franciscan life of service,” said the FVM newsletter. “He always tried to act for the best interest of the person before him. Chris advocated and stood with people oppressed by a society that does not honor their dignity.” Chris’s cremains were buried on Aug. 8 at the cemetery in Totowa, New Jersey.

► Robert Sandoz, OFM, announced on June 29 that Cristo Rey High School Newark in New Jersey, where he had served as president for more than 10 years, would close on June 30. In a statement posted on the school’s Facebook page, he said: “In the midst of this pandemic, no one is spared. It is just a question of how hard the hit has been. Some people have been slightly touched, while others have had a devastating blow. Here in Newark, it is the latter. It is for this reason that I am profoundly grateful to you. While I know that you have been affected by COVID-19, you have actively chosen to respond to us with generosity. You have looked beyond your own cares and worries and anxieties and considered those with fewer resources. You have reached into your awareness and given to us and those we serve hope and joy.” Cristo Rey High School opened in 2007 as Christ the King Prep School.

► Angel Vazquez, OFM, and Jay Woods, OFM, completed their solemn vows retreat in July at Mt. Irenaeus in Western New York.  They are preparing to profess their final vows at a Mass on Aug. 29 in Hartford, Connecticut.

Topics planned for upcoming issues of the HNP Today newsletter include:

  • Profession of solemn vows by two friars on Aug. 29
  • Beekeeping hobby of a friar in Florida
  • Diaconate ordination in September

The next newsletter issue is scheduled for distribution in mid-September.

— Compiled by Jocelyn Thomas

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