Friar News Briefs

Maria Hayes Friar News

The updates below feature activities of Holy Name friars, including their celebrations, presentations, and ministry events. For more information, visit links to the parishes and organizations mentioned, contact the friars by phone or email, or connect with the HNP Communications Office.

To provide news briefs for future articles, email information to communications director Jocelyn Thomas at

Development director David Convertino, OFM, presented a Franciscan Challenge the weekend of Nov. 15 at St. Patrick-St Anthony Parish in Hartford, Conn. Money was raised for the care of elderly and infirm friars, the education of our student friars, and ministries in places that do not have the means to support the mission of the Gospel. This is one of several challenges being held this year. Last week, a reflection that David wrote about Veterans Day was posted on the development office’s blog.

► Thomas Conway, OFM, executive director of St. Anthony Shrine, spoke last week in St. Louis at the annual meeting of the Resource Center for Religious Institutes, a national organization that promotes best accounting and legal practices in Catholic religious institutes. Thomas, chair of the HNP Finance Directorate, gave a talk on “Internal Controls and Corporate Responsibilities Related to Employment, Payroll Processing and Volunteerism – A Summary of Observations, Guidance and Recommendations.”

► An article about St. Francis Inn titled “Franciscan Friars Serve the Hungry in Full-Service Restaurant” was published last week in Loyola Press’s Food & Faith Series. It includes information about and comments from Michael Duffy, OFM. On Oct. 30, Michael accompanied a longtime team member of St. Francis Inn, Barbara Salapek, to Philadelphia City Hall, where she was surprised with recognition from the city where she has lived and worked for more than 20 years. Salapek, who joined the team of Franciscan friars, sisters and laypeople who run the soup kitchen in 1993, was presented with a resolution that described her role and contributions. Jim McIntosh, OFM, provided the City Council minutes from that meeting. The arranging of the honor and the logistics of Salapak’s mystery trip to city hall — she and Michael were told only where to go and what to wear — were organized by a former Franciscan Volunteer Minister, Leo Vaccaro.

► Christopher Dunn, OFM, and Anthony Wilson, OFM, are planning a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the arrival of Holy Name Province friars in Peru. The event is being held Dec. 14 at 4 p.m. at Santa Ana Parish in Lima, where the friars are currently stationed. “It is 50 years since Joe Nangle, OFM, founded the parish of Santisimo Nombre de Jesus (Holy Name of Jesus) in Chacarilla del Estanque,” said Anthony, who is superior of the Peru mission. “We wish to thank God for that day and for all the blessings since.” Information — in two languages — is available on the website of the parish, Anthony said. Joe and Paul Breslin, OFM, will be attending the celebration next month.

► Provincial Councilor Robert Frazzetta, OFM, and Paul O’Keeffe, OFM, are representing the Province on the planning committee of the 2015 National OFM Brothers Convocation, being held Aug. 10 to 14 in California. An invitation for the gathering, whose theme is “What is Ours To Do,” was mailed last month to all eligible friars. The registration deadline is April 1. “The convocation is an opportunity for the non-ordained friars to come together to discuss our lives and vocation,” said Paul. The planning committee includes representatives from both American and Canadian provinces.

► Julian Jagudilla, OFM, director of the Migrant Center at St. Francis Church in New York City, reports the center is celebrating its first anniversary by launching a new project in partnership with the New Sanctuary Movement of New York. He invites all to a program at 6 p.m. on Nov. 21 in San Damiano Hall on West 31st Street. Information is available on the parish website and by contacting the center at or 212-736-8500 ext. 305.

► Michael Johnson, OFM, pastor of St. Camillus Parish, Silver Spring, Md., is concelebrating a Mass on Nov. 19 in recognition of 60 years of Catholic education. He will preside with Fr. John Dake, a graduate of St. Camillus School, at a liturgy that will honor the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. “In 1954, the young Catholic parish of St. Camillus established one of its first ministries, a Catholic school founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Sixty years later, that school has gone through some changes and is now known as Saint Francis International School,” according to a news release.

► The monthly meetings of LEFSA, Life Experience and Faith Sharing Associates, are now being held in the Province’s San Damiano Hall in Manhattan, said Christopher Keenan, OFM, who is a member of the organization’s board. LEFSA helps men and women who are homeless discover their faith, dignity, self-esteem and the knowledge they need to make changes in their lives, said Christopher. The September and October meetings drew more than 95 people. “It is an honor for we friars on 31st Street to host this wonderful ministry of formerly/currently homeless persons with, and among, homeless persons on the streets, in shelters and where they gather,” Christopher said. “We are most grateful to the Fathers of the Blessed Sacrament who hosted LEFSA at St. Jean the Baptist for 25 years.”

► A video about the life of Robert Lentz, OFM, was posted recently on his website, which was launched in September. Inspirational quotes from Robert can be found on his Facebook page.

► Last month, Erick Lopez, OFM, Jacek Orzechowski, OFM, and Gonzalo Torres, OFM, participated the 2014 gathering of OFM friars involved with ministry to Hispanic communities. A photo of the October gathering participants was published in the Nov. 18 issue of the Sacred Heart Province’s newsletter. The ministry was held at the Franciscan Interprovincial Novitiate in Burlington, Wis.

► Kevin Mackin, OFM, of St. Petersburg, Fla., has created a blog called “A Franciscan Journey to God.” The former college president has shared reflections on topics including the Vatican Synod, our potential for spiritual greatness, life after life and “What would you go out on a ledge for?” “Naturally, I prepare many homilies, stories and reflections, and I wanted to share them in new ways,” said Kevin. “I remember the Province’s development and public relations offices when Richard Biasiotto, OFM, did HTML programming, and over 20 years, the electronic end has gotten easier. Many friars have blogs. ‘A Franciscan Journey’ has various elements, with current thoughts, news and views, photos, a bit of A/V, and some strolls around the world and down memory lane. It’s an online scrapbook, a work in progress. I see issues as societal, and I’m going to strive to convey information that educates and inspires, with approaches Francis of Assisi would hopefully smile upon.”

► Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen, OFM, will concelebrate the 11:30 a.m. Mass on Dec. 7 at St. Stephen of Hungary Church on East 82nd Street in New York City with Msgr. Thomas Leonard, administrator. The celebratory Mass will honor the parish, its parishioners and its service to the community for the past 112 years. In addition to celebrating St. Stephen’s, this occasion will provide an opportunity to express gratitude to the Franciscans for more than 80 years of dedicated service to the parish, according to the planning committee. A reception will follow. All friars are invited to participate and are asked to RSVP to Marianne Kroski, parish secretary, by Dec. 1 at 212-861-8500 or

► James O’Connell, OFM, reports that his department at New York Presbyterian-Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City was recently recognized by the vice president of patient relations, Sarah Ferguson. “This is an honor as it recognizes the ministry that I and all my colleagues do daily here in the hospital. Included in the recognition she writes, ‘Thank you for the enormous contributions to our patients, their families, physicians, and staff. I want to tell you how grateful we all are for your commitment to the spiritual and emotional health of our NYP family and community.’ And I, in turn, am grateful to our Franciscan community for their prayerful support.” James serves as the Catholic chaplain.

► On Nov. 7, Jacek Orzechowski, OFM, guardian of St. Camillus Friary, Silver Spring, attended the Franciscan Action Network’s inaugural Theodore Cardinal McCarrick Awards Dinner at Trinity University in Washington. Photos of the event, as well as a video about honoree Eliseo Medina, are available on FAN’s website. A congratulatory message from Holy Name Province appeared in FAN’s “green ad book.” Jacek is a member of Franciscan Action Network’s board.

► Francis Pompei, OFM, is mentioned in a recent article from titled “Hollywood Producer Puts the Power of Film at the Service of the Poor.” The story describes the effect the friars had on Gerry Straub, an executive/producer who was seeking meaning in his life and launched several projects, The San Damiano Foundation and Pax et Bonum Communications, to produce films about global poverty. In 1997, he created the documentary “We Have a Table Ready for Four” about St. Francis Inn in Philadelphia. After the success of Straub’s book on the life of St. Francis, the article says, “The Franciscans asked Straub to help them tell their story through television. He agreed, and was sent to Philadelphia to meet the Rev. Francis Pompei, a charismatic friar who ran a soup kitchen at the St. Francis Inn. ‘He shows up in an army jacket and a beard, he’s down there in a gutter, and I said, Wow!’ Straub said, recalling Pompei’s work alongside the indigent. Straub thought Pompei was the perfect spokesman for the Franciscans, so he moved into the friary, located in a tough Philadelphia neighborhood.”

► Former Navy chaplain Mark Reamer, OFM, was quoted in a news release from Siena College about the annual Veterans Recognition Dinner held last week.

► A Veterans Day reflection by Timothy Shreenan, OFM, was published in the Nov. 9 bulletin of St Francis Parish in New York City. In “Remembering the Fallen,” Timothy, the parish’s director of liturgy and communications, described the thousands of ceramic poppies arranged outside the Tower of London to commemorate the centenary of the start of World War I. “Each poppy represents one of the 888,246 British military deaths during the first World War,” he said. “It was a breathtaking sight to realize that every one of those red poppies represented a human being who had died during what has become known as ‘the war to end all wars.’”

► An article by Kevin Tortorelli, OFM, titled “Renewing the Church: The Franciscan Charism, The Challenge of Pope Francis, Our Task as Secular Franciscans,” was published in the July /September 2014 issue of The Cord. Kevin lives at Holy Name Friary in New York City.

► Patrick Tuttle, OFM, speaks about the endowment of St. Anthony of Padua School, Greenville, S.C., in a video produced and distributed recently by SHIFT Marketing. The video, attached to a newsletter shared with St. Anthony Parish earlier this month, describes the school as “distinctly Franciscan, faithfully Catholic, proudly diverse and courageously supportive.”

► Basil Valente, OFM, welcomed a new staff member to the HNP Vocation Office last week. Benjamin Simpson, who began his position as administrative coordinator on Nov. 11, has volunteered at and is a member of St. Francis Parish in New York City. The previous week, Basil attended the National Religious Vocation Conference in Chicago.

► Jud Weiksnar, OFM, reports that after the Nov. 18 snowfall in Buffalo, the Larkinville District where he lives was “on the borderline of the storm. To the south, they got two to three feet, but to the north, they received just a dusting.” Jud provided a photo and joked that after shoveling the sidewalks for an hour, “I came inside and told Fran Pompei ‘it’s time to buy a snow blower.’ He agreed!” Photos of the snowfall can be found on St. Patrick Friary’s Facebook page.

News for the next HNP Today e-letter is requested by Nov. 26, always the Wednesday before distribution. Updates about the friars and their ministries can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Topics planned for future issues include:

  • Franciscan Cup basketball game between St. Bonaventure University and Siena College
  • Ribbon cutting to inaugurate opening and new Head Start location of St. Paul’s school building in Wilmington, Del.
  • Activities at the Franciscan Interprovincial Novitiate

Compiled by Jocelyn Thomas