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 who are considering participating in one of the four interprovincial meetings being held in June and July to discuss reconfiguration options are asked to register by Jan. 14. The chairs of HNP committees and directorates are asked to begin crafting their budgets for the July 2016-July 2017 fiscal year. They are due March 18.
Event reminders: All are invited to the 11 a.m. Mass on Jan. 16 at St. Francis of Assisi Church in New York City at which Michael Reyes, OFM, will be ordained to the priesthood. The Provincial Office will be closed on Jan. 18 in commemoration of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

The inauguration of F. Edward Coughlin, OFM, as the 11th president of Siena College, Loudonville, N.Y., is the cover story of the Winter 2015 edition of Siena News, the college’s magazine for alumni and friends. The issue describes the Oct. 2 event and its theme “Embracing What is Ours to Do” and includes a photo of some of Ed’s predecessors: William McConville, OFM, Kevin Mackin, OFM, Hugh Hines, OFM, and Kevin Mullen, OFM. Other friars who appear in this edition of the magazine include Sean O’Brien, OFM, director of Siena’s Franciscan Center for Service and Advocacy, and Mark Reamer, OFM, assistant to the president for Franciscan Mission.

Francis Di Spigno, OFM, led a group of students from member schools of the Association of Franciscan Colleges and Universities to Italy during Christmas break.  Since 2011, Francis has been executive director of University Ministries at St. Bonaventure University and guardian of the St. Bonaventure friary.

“Making Mercy Our Paradigm” is a theme of a program at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Triangle, Va., and also part of the headline of a newspaper article that quotes Kevin Downey, OFM, the pastor. The piece, published Dec. 23 in the Arlington Catholic Herald, describes the ways that the Jubilee Year of Mercy is being commemorated. “My hope is that this year and our events will change a lot of people’s image of God,” said Kevin. “For so many people, their image of God is one who judges,” he said. “I’m hoping the emphasis on God’s love and mercy will allow them to see Him in a new light.” The parish plans to accomplish this through small faith groups, with participants gathering in parishioners’ homes. “The groups will discuss five mercy-related themes: looking at mercy with new eyes; the challenge of mercy; breathing mercy, or learning how to make mercy our paradigm, making it as natural as breathing, mercy and the family; and the church of mercy.” said Kevin.

An article by David Haack, OFM, appears in the December 2015 issue of Franciscan Connections. Appearing in the Art section of the publication, it is titled “Caravaggio and his First Religious Printing: St Francis in Ecstasy.” This publication of St. Bonaventure University’s Franciscan Institute was launched last spring. David retired in 2013 from teaching art history and studio art at SBU.

Last semester, Linh Hoang, OFM, was appointed to several positions at Siena College. He is now chair of Religious Studies Department at Siena, an evaluator with Middle States Commission on Higher Education —through which he will be on a visiting team to St. Francis University as an accreditation evaluator in April — and principal writer for the National Pastoral for Asian and Pacific Islander American Catholics, commissioned by the USCCB and scheduled to be completed by end of 2016. He also was re-appointed as consultant for the Cultural Diversity Office of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Louis Iasiello, OFM, traveled to the Middle East after Christmas, leading a pilgrimage for transitional deacons of the Pontifical College Josephinium in Columbus, Ohio, where he is stationed. Louis said, “Every year, I lead our transitional deacons in a pilgrimage to Israel, Palestine and Jordan, and conduct their canonical retreat for priesthood. It gives me an opportunity to highlight the Franciscan presence in the Middle East, and show them how the Good Friday collection is put to great use maintaining the shrines and caring for the shrinking Catholic community in this part of the world.” Louis takes deacons every year during the Christmas break. He is a professor in the School of Theology, director of Pastoral and Apostolic Formation, and formation advisor for theologians.

All members of the Franciscan Order are invited to “Franciscan Common Ground: A One-Day Inter-Franciscan Conference on Migration,” organized by the Migrant Center of the Church of St Francis of Assisi, directed by Julian Jagudilla, OFM. It is hoped that this conference might 1.) create a common ground for U.S. Franciscans, lay and religious, and key partner organizations and institutions, for dialogue toward a collective Franciscan response to the issue of migration; 2.) provide a place to share the stories of immigrants and their advocates to understand the rubric of policies that affect their lives; 3.) mobilize the Franciscan family and key partners by creating the widest possible network of information and support; and 4.) empower, through education and legislative action, the migrant advocates in the Franciscan family. The conference will take place on May 21 in San Damiano Hall on West 31st Street in New York City from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Information about the migrant center that was established in 2013 can be found on

Brian Jordan, OFM, was among more than 22 people — and the only clergy member — thanked on Jan. 1 in a full-page advertisement in the New York Daily News for their unwavering support of the NYC horse carriage industry. Brian, the chaplain for numerous trade unions in New York City, emphasizes that St. Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of animals and the horse carriage industry is approved by every veterinary association in the United States. Brian says, “The horse carriage industry is justified by both medical science and the living Franciscan tradition.” Brian was also quoted in an article titled “Rise in Accidents Reveals Dark Side of New York’s Building Surge” published Jan. 13 in The Financial Times. The article discusses the fact that the number of workers injured in New York City construction accidents rose by more than 50 per cent last year as the city experiences a building boom. Brian, who serves as chaplain to the city’s building-trades unions and holds an annual “hard-hat mass” for construction workers killed in accidents, argues that builders are “rushing for a buck. Every time a contractor tells me, ‘Father, we are on a deadline’, I say, ‘Every time you have a deadline, you have a line of dead people.’”

The late Mychal Judge, OFM, is being honored in an off-Broadway play by Anne Nelson titled “The Guys” that pays tribute to the 150th anniversary of the Fire Department of New York for which Mychal served as a chaplain until Sept. 11, 2001 when he died at the World Trade Center. An open dress rehearsal of the show is scheduled for Jan. 19 at 7:30 p.m. in the Province’s San Damiano Hall on West 31st Street, New York City. Details about the play, which includes a cantor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in the cast, are provided on St. Francis of Assisi Parish’s website.

Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen, OFM, is travelling to Florida and Colorado this month for meetings. Details about his activities can be found in his recent message in the current installment of “From the Provincial Minister’s Desk.”

John O’Connor, OFM, guardian of St. Francis Friary in Triangle, Va., has been elected chief of chaplains of the Prince William County, Va., Department of Fire Rescue, by the chaplains of the department. The chaplain corps consists of six chaplains, of which four are Baptist ministers, one a Methodist minister and John. “We hope to expand to seven or eight chaplains in the near future,” said the former Provincial Minister. “In my new role I am responsible for the monthly meetings of the chaplains, developing training programs, coordinating scheduling and emergency response protocols, and serving as liaison with the chiefs of the department. The Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue is a combination department with some 600 career (paid) firefighters and 700 plus volunteer firefighters. It operates out of 21 stations covering more than 400 square miles with a population of 465,000 people. The department responds to tens of thousands of calls each year in Prince William County, Va., which is a suburb of Washington D.C.”

Jacek Orzechowski, OFM, of St. Camillus Parish, Silver Spring, Md., will be participating in this year’s Chesapeake Climate Action Polar Bear Plunge on Jan. 23. The friar, who has created an online fundraising page, will jump into the cold Potomac River with Patrick Carolan, executive director of the Franciscan Action Network, to support the fight to stabilize the environment. Last year, Dennis Bennett, OFM, and Angel Vazquez, OFM, joined him for the plunge.

Frank Sevola, OFM, gave the invocation at the Jan. 1 swearing-in ceremony of new Pompton Lakes, N.J., government leaders. Frank has served as pastor of St. Mary’s Parish in Pompton Lakes since 2014.

Jud Weiksnar, OFM, guardian of St. Patrick Friary in Buffalo, was quoted in The Buffalo News in a Dec. 24 article titled “For Local Residents, Christmas Spirit Shines Through the World’s Troubles.” When asked about issues such as terrorism, “vulgar Trump Talk,” and refugees, Jud replied, “It seems like every decade there’s something terrible going on. And it would have been the same thing 2,000 years ago as well. Jesus came in the middle of that stuff. I think Jesus would feel right at home in 2015.”

News for the next issue of HNP Today is requested by Jan. 20, 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 friars marking anniversaries of profession in 2016
  • A reflection by Michael Tyson, OFM, about Martin Luther King Jr.

Compiled by Jocelyn Thomas

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