Friar News Briefs

HNP Communications Friar News

The updates below describe activities of Holy Name friars and feature celebrations, presentations, and ministry events. For more information, contact the friars by phone or email, connect with 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

From the Administration
A report on this month’s Provincial Council meeting was distributed to friars on Monday. The email included highlights of the April 19 to 20 discussions about two articles (from Commonweal magazine and The New York Times) as well as updates about the spring English-speaking Conference meeting, preparations for the June 4 to 9 Provincial Chapter and for the August meeting of U.S. provincial administration members, the recent canonical visitation conducted by Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen, OFM, and updates about other initiatives.

In response to President Donald Trump’s executive order implementing a travel ban on persons coming from six Muslim-majority nations, the seven OFM provincial ministers joined an interfaith coalition in signing an Amicus brief denouncing the travel ban. The brief states that “Although [members of the coalition] profess different faiths, they are united in the belief that religious tolerance is critical to the safety and wellbeing of our local and national community. Section 2(c) of President Trump’s Executive Order No. 13,780, which by its plain language, structures, and intent, discriminates on the basis of religion, is anathema to this core tenet that all members of our coalition share.” Signers of the brief include members of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh communities located across the country. The brief was submitted in support of the State of Hawai’ and Ismail Elshikh in their case against President Trump, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the U.S. Department of State.

Registration forms for the Provincial Chapter, which begins on Sunday, June 4, will be distributed later this week by Provincial Secretary Michael Harlan, OFM.

Last week, friars in the United States were sent a document titled “Making Fraternity Our Mission: Revitalizing and Restructuring the Order of Friar Minors in the U.S.A.” for their study, reflection and discussion. “With its focus on eight core Franciscan priorities and the reflection questions that accompany each priority, ‘Making Fraternity Our Mission’ is intended to stimulate not only thoughts and the exchange of ideas but — even more importantly— concrete actions on the level of local fraternities and provincial fraternities that will revitalize our brotherhood as we move toward the Extraordinary Chapters in 2018,” said Kevin Mullen, in a letter that asked HNP friars to dedicate “at least two house chapters prior to our 2017 Provincial Chapter to an ample discussion of the eight core Franciscan values” and to “keep in mind as well the question of whether these priorities might better be advanced via a national fraternity (one U.S. province) or two regional fraternities (two U.S. provinces).”

► Michael Calabria, OFM, director of St. Bonaventure University’s Center for Arab and Islamic Studies, gave several presentations this month. They include “Worth the Price: the Necessity of Islamic Art in an Iconoclastic Age” at John Carroll University in Cleveland on April 19, “Hearing the Call: a Franciscan Journey with Islam” at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh on April 8, and “Called to Heal Wounds: the Other Francis and Islam,” at Madonna University in Livonia, Mich., on April 6. This week, on April 28 and 29, he is presenting “The Unorthodox Orthodoxy of Shah Jahan” at the American Academy of Religion, Eastern International Region, at University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

► Several friars – including David Convertino, OFM, Ramón Razón, OFM, and Xavier Seubert, OFM – recently used virtual-reality goggles to explore the intricate details of miniature boxwood carvings at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. These tiny treasures, which tell stories from the Bible, are more than 500 years old and can fit inside your pocket. Thanks to modern technology, the friars were able to explore a life-size version of these detailed carvings via a 3-D virtual-reality tour. Details are included in a Religion News Service story.

► George Corrigan, OFM, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Tampa, Fla., provided a link to a television news report about an event that “does not happen every day” – a man was found sleeping on the roof of church the morning after Easter.

► Julian Davies, OFM, a retired Siena College professor of philosophy, is in Europe serving as chaplain of a cruise. Before boarding the ship, he stopped in Rome and visited the friars living there. Fr. Alvin Te, OFM, director of communications for the Order, provided a photo of Julian with Russel Murray, OFM, the Order’s general animator for evangelization. “Julian had arrived in Rome the day before in anticipation of a Mediterranean cruise, for which he would serve as chaplain. Julian and I were together for three years at Siena,” said Russel. “It was a pleasure to welcome him here and pass the first few days of the Triduum with him.”

► On Earth Day, April 22, several friars from Maryland and New Jersey participated in the March for Science in the nation’s capital. The group included Ronald Pecci, OFM, of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Camden, N.J., and Troy Hillman, James LaGrutta, and Christian Seno, OFM, of Holy Name College, Silver Spring, Md. “The march began with a rally at the base of the Washington Monument at 10 a.m.,” said Ron. “There was a long series of speakers for the next four hours, including celebrity scientists, former Environmental Protection Agency employees, other government officials and leading activists. At 2 p.m., we marched to the Capitol building, where the march ended. We all attended to protest the draconian cuts to the EPA, National Institutes of Health, and other basic science research traditionally supported by the federal government. I personally marched because of my own background in science and the fact that before I entered the Order, my employment was in medical research funded by an NIH grant. I know first hand what those grants support and how essential they are.”

► The Boston Herald published a story on April 20 about St. Anthony Shrine’s Lazarus Ministry that described a recent funeral Mass celebrated for a homeless man who was known by many in the Downtown Crossing neighborhood. In “Love Overflows for Shrine’s Unofficial Doorkeeper,” Barry Langley, OFM, said, “All of us deserve a homecoming, whether we had lots of friends or didn’t have lots of friends, whether we lived in a really great place or we lived on the streets.” Since its founding in 2003, the St. Anthony’s Lazarus Ministry has provided more than 170 free funerals for homeless people who die alone or without known next-of-kin. In rare cases, the ministry will provide services for deceased homeless whose families are also in extreme poverty. An accompanying video showed scenes of the Mass as well as an interview with Barry.

► Paul O’Keeffe, OFM, director of the Franciscan Missionary Union, is leading a group of friars through Cuba this week. It was arranged as follow-up to a suggestion made last summer by General Minister Michael Perry, OFM, who believes that the U.S. provincials should take on Cuba as a joint missionary project of the seven provinces, said Jim McIntosh, OFM, social media director for the US Franciscans, who is also on the trip and who plans to write a story when he returns to the United States.

► The April issue of Making All Things New, the newsletter of Mt. Irenaeus, includes a video reflection by Daniel Riley, OFM, director of the Franciscan Mountain Retreat in Western New York, that was recorded in Chicago. While at a meeting at Su Casa in Chicago, Dan talked about the meaning of Holy Week.

► On April 14, Patrick Sieber, OFM, of Philadelphia, participated in an annual protest at Lockheed Martin in King of Prussia, Pa., that resulted in him and nine others being arrested for disorderly conduct. The event was publicized as a “Good Friday Stations of Justice, Peace and Nonviolent Resistance” and was organized by the Brandywine Peace Community. Those arrested were taken to the Upper Merion, Pa., police station and released. Patrick, who marked 50 years as a friar in 2015, was with 10 other people.

► Vocation director Basil Valente, OFM, and the Franciscan Vocation Ministry team of Gonzalo Torres, OFM, and Benjamin Simpson remain grateful to regional vocation director Barry Langley, OFM, and to all of the friars at St. Anthony Shrine for hosting a discernment retreat during the weekend of April 22. The three-day retreat – which was attended by six men and celebrated “Franciscan vocations and Franciscan discernment in the 21st century” – concluded the Province’s vocation retreat schedule for spring 2017. Photos and short summaries of the retreat are available on the Be A Franciscan Facebook page, including a reflection by Tony LoGalbo, OFM, outlining five elements of a vocation that he noticed in the Bible: 1. God in the initiator, 2. The call is a surprise or a gradual perception, which elicits hesitation, 3. The person called has a specific role to play, 4. The person’s life undergoes a real change, and 5. God gives what is necessary for the person to accomplish the task. “Special thanks to Barry and Tony, as well as director of volunteers Julie Ogden, Hugh Hines, OFM, John Hogan, OFM, John Maganzini, OFM, Dan Murray, OFM, and Khoa Nguyen, OFM, for their inspired reflections and homilies during the retreat,” said Basil. “One of the discerners said, ‘Even after my resolution to walk the way of the Franciscan family, God continues to speak to me through scriptures, reaffirming me and my decision.’” Upcoming events will be posted on the Vocation Ministry’s website,

News for the next issue of HNP Today is requested by May 3 – always the Wednesday before publication. Updates about the friars and their ministries can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Topics planned for future coverage in HNP Today include:

  • Experiences of two friars serving as general visitors
  • National Religious Brothers Day on May 1
  • Profiles of jubilarians Russell Becker, OFM, Robert Menard, OFM, and Jacques LaPointe, OFM
  • New ministry center at St. Bonaventure University

Compiled by Jocelyn Thomas

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