Tom Cole and Luis Rosado assist Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen at the dedication of the new elevator and stairwell at the Butler friary as Kevin McGoff observes from the background. (Photo courtesy of Paul Chelus)

Friar News Briefs

HNP Communications Friar News

The updates below describe some recent activities of Holy Name Province friars, highlighting their personal projects as well as events at friaries and ministry sites. Among the updates are a dedication of an addition to a large, older friary building; a prayer service in Buffalo; a fire that ravaged the New Hampshire home of a friar’s parents, and an article penned by a retired friar.

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.

From and About the Administration
On Aug. 21, three friars – James Bernard, OFM, Steven Kuehn, OFM, and Aaron Richardson, OFM – are scheduled to profess their solemn vows at the Church of St. Francis of Assisi in New York City.  Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen, OFM, will celebrate an 11 a.m. Mass. The liturgy will be live-streamed to the parish’s Facebook page. The following month, on Sept. 23, friars who marked their silver and golden jubilees of profession this year and in 2020 will be honored at a 5:30 Mass, also scheduled to take place at the West 31st Street church. All are invited to attend both events.
The Provincial Councilors met twice recently via Zoom conferencing. At their June 23 meeting, they discussed 2022 Provincial budgets, an addition to the HNP administrative manual, the use of the Province’s former infirmary in Ringwood, New Jersey, guidelines for reopening fraternities around the Province, and a survey about lessons learned from the pandemic. The July 30 meeting focused on the 2021 OFM General Chapter – its message as well as reflections from Lawrence Hayes, OFM, who represented Holy Name Province. The councilors also discussed Benevolence Grants, personnel issues, recognition received by the Communications Office from Catholic Media Association, and an update on the Revitalization and Restructuring Process.
New methods of communication are being developed for sharing news with HNP friars and with Province friends, supporters, and the general public.  A revised version of the newsletter and internal email system –  managed by the HNP Development Office – will be launched in the coming weeks.

Jud leading a prayer event in Buffalo one week after a shooting took place in a park near the friars’ residence. (Photo courtesy of Jud Weiksnar)

Precipitated by a June 23 shooting at JFK Park in Buffalo, New York, during which four people were injured, William Jud Weiksnar, OFM, organized an outdoor gathering the following week whose participants prayed for the shooting victims and an end to gun violence. For Jud, the shooting incident and prayer service hit home in two ways – his strong desire and advocacy for unity and peace in the community, and because a stray bullet from the incident landed in his friary room across from the park. A July 1 article, “Recent Shooting Unites Buffalo Churches” in Western New York Catholic described the prayer service and how Jud became aware of the bullet that entered his second-floor bedroom and office just before 7 p.m. that day. Ironically, Jud, the pastor of Ss. Columba-Brigid Parish, had considered going out that evening to bike ride. Instead, he took the advice frequently given by Timothy Dauenhauer, OFM – a senior friar who also lives at the parish friary – and decided to relax at home on a rare evening with no meetings, webinars, or other commitments. Jud says he decided to listen to music and read emails. “I had my earphones in. I was listening to music working on my laptop, and I heard a loud bang. I looked over and saw that my shelves were shaking,” Jud explained. “I looked out the window and saw a commotion across the street, and heard gunshots and saw cars peeling out at the basketball courts. I called 911 and said there appears to have been a shooting across the street.” After arriving back in his room, he saw a bullet seven feet away from where he had been sitting, leaving a small hole in the wall. “It hit my shelves hard enough to make them shake,” said Jud in the article. “It actually hit one of the stoles that I use for Mass, bounced off the stole, and landed on the carpet.” Gabriel Scarfia, OFM, who also lives at the friary, attended the June 30 prayer service, of which photos can be found in an album on the Facebook page of Ss. Columba-Brigid Church. Jud asks for prayers for the four people, including two youth, who were shot in the incident at the basketball courts. “Please also pray for a cessation of the violence plaguing our nation, especially here in Buffalo,” he said. “All of us at the parish and at Family Promise, the shelter next door for families who are homeless, are okay. Next time Tim tells me to stay in and read a book, I think I’ll take a bike ride instead.”

A guest of St. Francis Inn receives a haircut from Angel Vazquez, who visited Philadelphia in July. (Photo courtesy of the St. Francis Inn Ministries Facebook page)

In July, Angel Vazquez, OFM, of Western New York – with the tools of his trade in tow – took his barbering skills to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to give haircuts to guests of St. Francis Inn soup kitchen. “The guests loved the experience,” said Fred Dilger, OFM, guardian of the nearby Juniper Friary. “Angel talked and joked with them. Besides getting great haircuts, they got a good experience. It was like going to a salon.” The Inn’s guests made appointments with Angel, who gave the haircuts outdoors on two consecutive days. “Thank you to Br. Angel for coming to give free haircuts to our guests! We are excited for another day at Barbershop Inn!” said a post and accompanying photo on the St. Francis Inn Ministries Facebook page. Angel received his barber’s license in 2019 and professed his solemn vows in 2020.

Tom Cole, Joe Juracek, pastor of St. Anthony Parish, and Chris Van Haight at the dedication of the new elevator and stairwell at the friary in Butler, N.J. (Photo courtesy of Paul Chelus)

More than 30 friars gathered at St. Anthony Friary in Butler, New Jersey, on June 24 for the dedication of the building’s new tower and elevator. Christopher Van Haight, OFM, guardian of St. Anthony Friary, welcomed the residents and visitors – who came from Paterson, Pompton Lakes, and Philadelphia – with introductory remarks. Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen, OFM, conducted the service with assistance from Kevin McGoff, OFM, who sang and delivered a scripture reading, and Thomas Cole, OFM, who also presented a reading and put together the service. The highlight of the ceremony was the blessing of the cornerstone, behind which is a time capsule containing items pertaining to 2021. The friars enjoyed a cookout after the ceremony. The new section of the friary opened for use this spring.

► Basil Valente, OFM, director of HNP vocations, reports that two candidates have been accepted into the 2021-22 interprovincial postulancy program. One of the candidates got to know the friars in Georgia, while the other met friars in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey, according to Basil. Both men are being welcomed to their postulant year at a ceremony at Holy Name College in Silver Spring, Maryland, the location of the postulancy program since 2018.

An article by Kevin Tortorelli, OFM, was recently published by Franciscan Connections, the blog jointly launched last summer by the Franciscan Institute at St. Bonaventure University and the Franciscan Study Center in The Netherlands. Titled “Rene Girard and Franciscan Consciousness,” the article looks at Girard’s theory of mimetic rivalry as the source of violence among us and gives examples of Francis’s freedom from mimetic rivalry and the difference it made. Kevin lives at St. Anthony Friary in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Several events in Durham, North Carolina, were recently featured online on the Facebook page of Immaculate Conception Church. On July 11, the parish, in collaboration with DukeHealth, hosted a Covid-19 vaccination clinic. “It is not the first time our church has been involved in this initiative,” said Jacek Orzechowski, OFM, pastor. “Over the last few months, we have worked with local organizations to offer at our campus Pfizer vaccines to our parishioners [on weekends], and the larger community during weekdays. This time, we scheduled a vaccination clinic between the two Sunday Masses in Spanish to make it easier for our Latino parishioners to take advantage of this opportunity. The COVID-19 vaccination rate among the Latinx adults in Durham about 30 percent is still behind that of the general population in our city, which is 54 percent fully vaccinated.” A week earlier, Jacek arranged for two Latina doctors to speak at the Spanish Masses about the critical importance of receiving the Covid-19 vaccination and to dispel the false myths about the vaccination circulating in the immigrant community. Jerry Chavez, a parish deacon, also gave an excellent online presentation summarizing in Spanish the insights from the recent webinar offered by the Franciscan Action Network about COVID vaccines. Jacek highly recommends that those ministering among other Spanish-speaking communities share this very informative 30-minute video.

Several reflections by Joseph Nangle, OFM, about timely topics have been published on the blog of Pax Christi, USA, for which he serves as an ambassador of peace. On June 24, Joe wrote what he called a “quite personal” piece about the ordination on May 29 of Juan de la Cruz Turcios, OFM, in which he described the dramatic story of Juan’s journey from El Salvador to the United States and poignant moments of the ordination ceremony. The Latino population in the U.S. represents “solid hope for our stodgy American Church,” according to Joe. “The moment when the first and very impressive African-American cardinal knelt for the blessing of Fr. Juan de la Cruz’s blessing will remain fixed in my memory of the possibilities opening for a Church that is totally relevant to our times in America,” Joe wrote. In a July 20 column, “Nonviolence as an Antidote to the Destruction of our Common Home,”  Joe began: “The convictions of the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative in a few short years have gained acceptance throughout the Catholic world and beyond. Over the next several weeks this column will concentrate on what the CNI is promoting: the growing conviction among scholars, practitioners of peace, and particularly among victims of violence that nonviolence must be the first response to violent situations at every level of human life.”

Kevin Kriso, OFM, and Daniel Riley, OFM, announced in recent newsletters that Mt. Irenaeus was reopening its traditional way of life this summer to overnight guests who have been vaccinated. “Our hermitages are available for occupancy at this time. If you are unvaccinated and would like to visit overnight, please call us to discuss options for your stay. We will continue taking the proper precautions to protect the health of all and reduce the chance of spreading the virus,” the friars said in the Mt. Irenaeus newsletters. News about the Franciscan Mountain Community as well as posts from Dan’s Instagram account can be found on the Mt. Irenaeus website.

► The new food pantry with a supermarket feel at St. Anthony parish in Butler, New Jersey, was featured in the Aug. 5 issue of The Beacon, the newspaper of the Paterson, New Jersey, Diocese. The article, “Butler parish creates space in former school to expand, enhance food pantry,” describes the “supermarket experience” that the ministry provides guests who visit the space that was formerly the computer room of St. Anthony’s School, which closed in 2016.  Joseph Juracek, OFM, pastor of St. Anthony’s, says the large pantry is easier for clients to use when they come for groceries for themselves and their families.  “I thank parishioners and local people and businesses that have been exceedingly generous in their donations,” said Joe.  The renovation of the pantry was supervised by Patrick Fereday, OFM, director of maintenance for the parish and the adjacent St. Anthony Friary.

► A new book by Daniel Horan, OFM, The Way of the Franciscans,” published by SPCK Publishing, is scheduled for release in November. It is now available for preorder on Amazon and through other booksellers. Information about all of Dan’s books, as well as his speaking engagements, can be found on his website and Facebook page.

Thomas Gallagher, OFM, shared his observations with Catholic New York, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of New York, about Mass attendance in recent months at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in New York City, where he is pastor. In “Parishioners, Commuters returning ‘home’ to Manhattan Weekday Masses,” Tom said there has been a “moderate” increase in Mass attendance since office workers began returning to their desks  as buildings reopened after a prolonged shutdown due to the pandemic. “We are still cautious,” he said. “People are happy to be able to celebrate in person.” Tom added: “St. Francis of Assisi is joyfully welcoming all who desire to come to celebrate with us. We are a rather unique church in that we welcome tourists, downtown workers, the homeless, and many folks who call St. Francis of Assisi Church home. All are welcome.”

John Frambes and Carlos Portillo participate in the annual Blessing of the Fleet in Barnegat Light, New Jersey. (Photo courtesy of Francis Di Spigno)

On June 20, John Frambes, OFM, and Carlos Portillo, OFM, participated in the annual Blessing of the Fleet in Barnegat Light, New Jersey an interdenominational service at dockside featuring music and inspirational text. Clergy members were aboard a Coast Guard vessel in the inlet. John, who has been stationed at the Long Beach Island friary since 2014, said, “It was a great way to introduce Carlos to LBI life. Though people think Long Beach Island is all about the beach, economically, the Barnegat Light fishery is huge.   We have a good time with the blessing, but our commercial crews, Coast Guard and private boaters are grateful for the prayers.  The ocean can be dangerous and we pray that everyone gets home safely. This year, the Coast Guard crew assigned to the blessing was called on an emergency, so the clergy members were obliged to remain on the party boat for the procession of the fleet.”

► An article about the services provided by St. Francis Parish and its affiliated St. Francis Community Center on the New Jersey Shore was published in the June 30 issue of The Sandpaper, the newsmagazine of Long Beach Island and southern Ocean County. In the article, “Community Outreach Carrying Past COVID into the Future,” Francis Di Spigno, OFM, said that the center “brings us together in different ways. It brings us together to pray, it brings us together to learn English as a second language, it brings us together because we need counseling, because we need food. The center started with services to bring together seniors isolated in their own homes that’s really what the parish center is about.”  Fran continued in the article, “I think COVID exacerbated a lot of issues that we already have. We were isolated; we were separated keeping our distance. What is church really about? It’s a place for people to come together as a community. We’re not in this alone. That’s where St. Francis as a parish and center is a vital part of Long Beach Island and really, southern Ocean County.” Fran has been pastor of St. Francis Parish, which operates three churches, since September 2020.

► On June 17, a fire swept through the Merrimack, New Hampshire, home of the parents of Ross Chamberland, OFM. With the help of neighbors, Carol and Bob Chamberland made it out alive. However, after jumping from the second floor to escape the flames, Carol was hospitalized for more than a month. An online fundraising initiative was established to help the family with recovery and medical expenses. Ross, who is stationed at St. Bonaventure University, thanks the many people who have helped his family in assorted ways – through prayers, medical help, and financial contributions. His mother was discharged from Elliot Hospital in Manchester on July 24 and is now undergoing rehabilitation.

— Compiled by Jocelyn Thomas

Editor’s note: Past HNP Today stories can be found on the News & Events page of the Holy Name Province website.