Friar News Briefs

Jocelyn Thomas Friar News

The updates below describe activities of Holy Name friars, featuring their 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 Provincial Administration
Friars are reminded that budgets are due to Treasurer Dennis Wilson, OFM, by March 18. They should be emailed to or fax to 646-368-8097.

In addition, applications for the Benevolence Trust are due no later than April 1. Friars are asked to review the Guidelines and Forms as found on the HNP website under the heading “Our Work,” then scroll to Grants and select the fillable forms. You will note that the Benevolence Committee has provided an entirely new format. Applications should be sent electronically to Questions should be referred to Allan Von Kobs, OFM, in the Provincial Office.

Scott Brookbank, OFM, and John C. Coughlin, OFM, hosted a vocation retreat last week at the University of Georgia Catholic Center in Athens. On Jan 28, Jacek Orzechowski, OFM, traveled from Silver Spring, Md., to give a talk to young men considering or just curious about the religious life and/or priesthood. “Nine young men and six friars gathered in the Catholic Center at the University of Georgia to share prayer, a wonderful meal prepared by a staff member, and conversation,” said John. “In addition to the guest speaker, the other friars in attendance were Henry Fulmer, OFM, and Aubrey McNeil, OFM, from Anderson, S.C., and Patrick Tuttle, OFM, from Greenville, S.C. Four laymen from UGA and five from South Carolina listened to Fr. Jacek tell his vocation story and then asked several good questions about friar life and the priesthood. All of the friars helped in responding to the questions and a fruitful conversation developed. The overall experience allowed the young laymen to connect with each other. The friars helped them realize that they are not alone in their discernment. It also provided witness to them that the friar life is one of joy.” Vocation director Basil Valente, OFM, said, “It seems the retreat was a great success and I’m eager to meet some of those men at our upcoming Come and See/Discernment retreat in Florida, later in the month. We have a variety of recent college graduates who are seriously interested in joining HNP. Let’s continue to pray for them and for God’s guidance as they continue on this important journey, particularly as young followers in the faith.” On the weekend of Feb. 6, four student friars — Dennis Bennett, OFM, Casey Cole, OFM, Edgardo Jara, OFM, and Abraham Joseph, OFM — gave a vocation presentation at St. Camillus Parish in Silver Spring, Md.

Three friars will be teaching summer courses at the St. Bonaventure University School of Franciscan Studies. Michael Calabria, OFM, will teach “Women and Gender in Islam: from Revelation to Revolution,” Kyle Haden, OFM, will teach “Anti-Catholic Bias in America Yesterday and Today: A Franciscan Perspective,” and Dominic Monti, OFM, will teach “Survey of Franciscan History.” Information about the School of Franciscan Studies can be found on SBU’s website and in the current issue of Franciscan Connections magazine.

A photo of Ross Chamberland, OFM, appeared in the Jan. 28 issue of SJB News Notes, the newsletter of St. John the Baptist Province, in an article titled “Discernment is kKey to SBU Program,” which “allows young men to explore a religious vocation with a community of like-minded seekers — in an environment that will help them achieve their academic goals.”

On Feb. 4, Thomas Conway, OFM, spoke at the Massachusetts Statehouse as an advocate for St. Francis House on Boylston Street in Boston. According to the website of St. Anthony Shrine, where he is executive director, Thomas spoke about “how inspirational it is when volunteers, donors, staff, non-profits and religious all work together to help people recover from addictions and homelessness. St. Francis House, started by the friars 31 years ago, does great work!” Tom serves on the board of directors at St. Francis House.

John Gill, OFM, reports that the St. Francis Urban Center, in Philadelphia, of which he is director, moved into the All Saints Building last month. It is the last of the St. Francis Inn ministries programs to move into the building that the Inn acquired last summer. The move has been taking place since September. The building, located next to Juniper Friary, houses the women’s center, Marie’s Closet thrift store, a conference room and a loft apartment that lodges volunteer groups. Information about the ministries can be found on the Inn’s website and in The Pilgrim newsletter.

David Hyman, OFM, chair of the HNP African Ancestry Committee, said friars who know of last-minute registrants for the African American Vocation retreat being held this weekend in Wilmington, Del., are welcomed to contact Paul Williams, OFM, who is hosting the Feb. 12 to 14 event. Several friars will present talks at the gathering. In addition to Paul, they are Michael Duffy, OFM, Benedict Taylor, OFM, and Basil Valente, OFM.

On Feb. 2, Jim McIntosh, OFM, participated in a meeting in New York City of the Digital Media Committee for the U.S. provinces of the OFM English-speaking Conference. The friars are working to enhance the content of the US Franciscans website and Facebook page. “We spent most of the time talking about upcoming enhancements to the friar app. The main feature we want to add in v 2.0 are means to facilitate more communications between those requesting prayers and those promising to pray for their intentions. Our intention is to create, as far as it is possible, a ‘virtual prayer fraternity.’ We also discussed adding a GPS-enabled feature to allow the user to find the closest Franciscan church.”

 Andrew Reitz, OFM, celebrated Mass for participants of the young adult retreat held the weekend of Jan. 29 by St. Francis of Assisi Parish in New York City, where he is pastor. It was held at the Mount Alvernia Retreat Center in Wappingers Falls, N.Y. Approximately 40 young adults attended, including HNP staff members Maria Hayes in the Communications Office and Benjamin Simpson in the Vocation Office. The weekend focused on prayer and reflection on God’s mercy during the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Participants shared their thoughts in large and small group settings and were inspired by witness talks given by retreat participants. Photos can be found in the Feb. 7 parish bulletin.

Student friar Christian Seno, OFM, led an opening prayer service at the Feb. 4 meeting of the HNP Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Directorate meeting held at Holy Name College. Christian, an intern in the JPIC Office, led the prayer based on Laudato Si. “We welcomed new directorate member Rob Goraieb, staff member of St. Francis Parish in Triangle, Va.,” said Jud Weiksnar, OFM, a directorate member from Buffalo. “We then discussed updates from the Provincial Council and from the international OFM JPIC Animation Committee. Russ Testa guided us in our discussion of the direction in which our JPIC Directorate will be moving. As emphasized in the JPIC documents issued by the Order, we will seek a greater integration of JPIC in friar formation, both initial and ongoing. We discussed at length the impact of Laudato Si on our JPIC work. We also spoke about our lifestyle as friars, an area the OFM JPIC Animation Committee will be concentrating on during this six-year term. Jacek Orzechowski, OFM, directorate chair, informed us of an event coming up later this month at St. Camillus Parish called ‘Praying with Pope Francis,’ a multicultural evening of prayer and reflection for immigrants and refugees Julian Jagudilla, OFM, spoke about an upcoming immigration conference, Franciscan Common Ground, that will take place at 31st Street in New York City on May 21. We all enjoyed a great lunch, including homemade pupusas, prepared by the kitchen staff at Holy Name College.” Others participating in the recent were Provincial Councilor Joseph Nangle, OFM, of Virginia, and Fran Eskin-Royer, staff member in the HNP Office for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation in Silver Spring. A photo taken by Christian was posted on the Province’s Facebook page.

News for the next issue of HNP Today is requested by Feb.17, always the Wednesday before distribution. Updates about the friars and their ministries can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Topics planned for future coverage in HNP Today include:

  • Profiles of Alfonso Guzman, OFM, and Ignatius Harding, OFM, and other friars commemorating jubilees of profession
  • Increased use of videos by HNP friars

Compiled by Jocelyn Thomas

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