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, email the friars, contact 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 the December meeting of the Provincial Council was distributed on Dec. 22 to all HNP friars. It contains highlights of a discussion about an article in The New York Times titled “How to Build a Successful Team,” information about the finances of the General Curia, recent work on the Fraternal Ecology planning process, the Care of Elder Friars/Holy Name Friar Task Force, and revised conference call procedures, as well as an update on the Revitalization and Restructuring process being undertaken by the US-6 provinces.

► The new year did not start out happily for St. Francis of Assisi Parish in New York City. On Jan. 2, at roughly 7:20 a.m., a monstrance was stolen from the altar in the lower church. The police were called and the following day it was returned after it was found on the subway. The recovery is due, in large part, to the power of social media, according to the description on the parish’s Facebook page. A photo of pastor Andrew Reitz, OFM, with the monstrance was posted Jan. 3 on the parish’s Facebook page, which announced that for security reasons, the parish is limiting access to parts of the church when they are not in use. “We regret having to put these measures into effect, but we are concerned about your safety as well as the security of our church and buildings,” according to an announcement in the parish bulletin that includes the new hours.

► Joseph Nangle, OFM, will be celebrating a Jan. 21 Mass as part of the Franciscan Mission Service’s re-commissioning ceremony. All are welcome to join FMS staff and board members at Casa San Salvador on Quincy Street NE in Washington, D.C., to welcome five lay missioners as they return from serving for two to three years in Bolivia, Guatemala, and Jamaica. The reception is an opportunity to hear the missioners’ stories, view their photos, and show your support as they end their 2.5-week-long re-entry retreat and transition into the next phase of their lives, according to FMS.

► Dominic Monti, OFM, gave a five-day retreat last month in Kingston, Jamaica, for the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, N.Y., who have ministered on the island for close to 150 years. The retreat was held at Immaculate Conception Convent in Kingston. While in Jamaica, he took time to see some of the city of Kingston as well as other parts of the island. He was, he said, “very impressed by the long history of the Allegany Franciscan sisters here in Jamaica. They came here in 1879, taking over the mission of a small community of Scottish Franciscans who had arrived 20 years earlier. There’s a great imprint of Franciscan ministry. I remember with fondness our Province’s ministry there.”

► On Jan. 11, Julian Jagudilla, OFM, director of the Migrant Center at the Church of St. Francis of Assisi in New York City, will speak about the plight of immigrants and the human and societal costs of detention and deportation of undocumented persons. He will also speak of the work of the Migrant Center and the detention center visits that he has been organizing to visit detained people who have minimal contact with the outside world. The presentation, which is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., is open to all.

► The 2018 speaking schedule of Daniel Horan, OFM, is now available on his website, He began the year by participating in the Diocese of Reno, N.V., Annual Conference from Jan. 5 to 6. On Jan. 21, he will speak at the International Thomas Merton Society conference in Chicago, giving a presentation titled “Merton and Racism in the USA.”

► As part of the Franciscan Missionary Union programs, Thomas Hartle, OFM, and Paul O’Keeffe, OFM, led a group of college students on a pilgrimage through historic areas of Italy. The Dec. 26 to Jan. 3 trip – which included participants from University of Georgia Catholic Center, Alvernia University, and the University of Saint Francis in Ft. Wayne, Ind. –visited Greccio, Assisi, and Rome. While in Assisi, they visited all of the holy sites associated with St. Francis and St. Clare, said Paul, and in Rome, visited sites associated with St. Francis as well as the Vatican and sites from ancient Rome – the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and the Pantheon. The purpose of this pilgrimage, according to Paul, “is to enrich students with an understanding of who St. Francis and St. Clare were and how their movements changed the Church and society of their time. The value of this trip is two-fold; to increase students’ awareness of St. Francis and St. Clare, and to help students grow in their own spirituality and to be able to see how God is working in their own lives.”

► In Puerto Rico, Roberto González, OFM, archbishop of San Juan, says that progress after the impact of Hurricane Maria last fall “is hopeful but very slow.” On Dec. 22, he wrote to the HNP Communications Office, “Although half the population does not yet have electricity and 20 percent is still without water, people have proven to be resilient and are getting into the Christmas spirit. It is a moving experience. We are all learning many lessons as a result of these catastrophic hurricanes. We are deeply grateful to the friars of Holy Name Province and to the people in their ministries who have been most generous in helping our people.” The archbishop also provided the text of the remarks he made at the Dec. 20 Prayer Service for the Recovery of Puerto Rico held at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

► Fred Dilger, OFM, was quoted in an article titled “In Kensington, Battling the Cold Means Battling Addition” that was published Jan. 4 in the Philadelphia Inquirer. At St. Francis Inn, the soup kitchen on Kensington Avenue, outreach workers handed guests handbills with directions to the warming center. “’We’ve been really pushing that,” said Fred, who works at the soup kitchen. “I think something like this — where people can come and go more freely — is a good way to go.”

► William DeBiase, OFM, wrote a reflection recently after having participated in the Christmas liturgy at the Ringwood, N.J., friary. He submitted the following, which he titled “A View from the Rear”: “The rear view draws us into what is happening in the community. The back seat is a wider window. I felt this very strongly this past Christmas season when I joined the friar community at Holy Name Friary for the liturgy and celebration of the Eucharist. The back seat drew me into hundreds of years of Franciscan life. The bodies that I saw were no longer strong and, in some cases, the minds were no longer in touch with reality, but they were sending a clear message of conviction and compassion and service. The rear view was challenging me to make all of these years not only in the past, but to make them present in the world today.” William moved to St. Anthony Friary in Butler, N.J., in December.

► Casey Cole, OFM, posted several videos on his YouTube channel that have been viewed by thousands of people. One described why he wears his habit when he flies (“there’s no better place to meet people where they are than at airports”) and another shows a conversation with his mother and father. This week, Casey announced that a new season of “Catholicism in Focus” will begin airing on Jan. 29.

► On the weekend before Christmas, the novices returned home to Mission Santa Barbara after having been evacuated because of the dangerous fires in southern California. “The fire is about 90 percent contained now, and there is no visible smoke or ash falling, but the air still has a high percentage of particulates,” said Michael Blastic, OFM, on Dec. 27. “We had a good amount of cleaning to do. Ash made its way into the house through closed windows. But we are more or less back to normal at the Mission.” Michael is a team leader at the OFM interprovincial novitiate, which moved from Burlington, Wis., to Santa Barbara in summer 2017. Santa Barbara County is currently experiencing the impact of a flooding and a mudslide that occurred after recent heavy rains.

► James Bernard, OFM, and Wilmer Abel Garcia, OFM, are pictured on the cover of the January issue of St. Anthony Messenger, the magazine published by Franciscan Media. An article titled “Friars of the Future” describes the hope felt by friars as the Church changes. “We hear all sorts of statistics about the closing and merging of parishes, the crisis of priestly vocations, the shrinking of religious orders. Those things are happening, but there’s new life brewing too. Ask a young or new Franciscan today about the future, and you hear a lot of hope. ‘We’re not thinking, “It’s going to be terrible around here. What are we going to do? No, we just have to work altogether,’”’ says Abel.” The article says, “There are 18 friars from various states at St. Joseph’s Friary, a thriving community where, in a large red brick house-turned-friary, they gather early in the morning and again in the evening, between ministry, classes, and study, for Liturgy of the Hours and daily Eucharist. It’s a far cry from the isolated, huge institutions of the past.”

Topics that will be included in future issues of this newsletter include

  • Gathering of SPUFY friars, those solemnly professed under five years
  • Catholic Schools Week
  • A friar being recognized as 2018 Volunteer of the Year

— Compiled by Jocelyn Thomas

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