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Friar News Briefs – July 2020

The updates below describe recent activities of Holy Name Province friars. They highlight their personal projects as well as events at ministry sites.

For details about any of the information, email the friars, contact the HNP Communications Office, or visit links to the parishes and organizations mentioned. To provide news for future articles, send an email to communications director Jocelyn Thomas.

From the Administration
As of July 14, the method of electing new leaders of the Province for 2020 to 2023 has been determined. Because the Provincial Chapter originally planned as a gathering at Siena College where elections are held was canceled because of the coronavirus outbreak and the option of conducting the Chapter by online methods was prohibited by the Vatican, a new way of conducting the elections has been determined.  Earlier this week, after reviewing and discussing three options, Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen, OFM, and his Council chose a system through which the Council will consult the friars for their recommendations for Provincial Minister, Vicar, and Councilors. The results of the consultation will be sent to the Minister General and his council with a request that they appoint friars for these offices for three years.  The official decision – and appointment – of the new Provincial leaders will be made by the OFM General Administration members at their July 27 to 30 meeting.  The friars’ new positions will take effect in early August, and will be for three years, and the HNP Congresses for assignment changes would then take place in mid-August.  More details about this choice and other details about the revisions to the 2020 Chapter content and process will be provided to HNP friars in the coming days.
In other news, on July 10, the Administration distributed updated COVID-19 guidelines to friars. The Province also lifted its 50-mile travel restrictions but emphasized that the prohibitions on visiting friaries and allowing overnight guests are still in effect.

COVID-19 testing was done at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Triangle, Virginia. (Photo courtesy of John O’Connor)

John O’Connor, OFM, reports that St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Triangle, Virginia, where he has been the pastor since 2016, was asked by the Office of Emergency Management of Prince William County to serve as a COVID-19 testing site. The free tests were conducted in the church parking on July 8.

Francis Pompei, OFM, recently completed his third in a series of self-published books. The new 180-page paperback, titled “Your Loved One May Be Dying,” follows the publication of books one and two, “Attack the Evil That is Attacking You,” and “The Most Important Book You Will Ever Read” – the latter which was featured in the December 2019 issue of this newsletter. Francis produced a flyer that provides information about each of the books, which have a common thread. “In each book,” says Francis, “Jesus himself is connecting with the reader, teaching them His Truth and how to deal with life, problems, suffering, and death. The good news in each book: the Lord not only tells us what to do about them but how to do it – and He does it along with the reader.” During the pandemic, Francis, who lives in Syracuse, New York, has been posting the Masses he celebrates on a YouTube channel he created this spring. The videos are being viewed by an audience of 600 people, he said.

►  Upon hearing the news of the death of Christopher Posch, OFM — a classmate — Kevin McGoff, OFM —  created a touching video tribute to his Chris, the pastor of St. Camillus Parish in Silver Spring, Maryland, w ho died on July 5.   It includes music written by Kevin. At the Mass of Resurrection on July 11,  Kevin played an original improvisation on the chant “Adoro te Devote” during Communion and then, along with his classmate Khoa Ngyuen, OFM, and other friars, he served as pall bearer at the end.

Brian Jordan, OFM, participated in the 9/11 Memorial and Museum’s virtual observance of the 18th anniversary of the official end to the rescue and recovery operations at the World Trade Center in New York City. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, chair of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, narrated an introduction that recalled moments from last year’s ceremony and included a variety of people involved with the World Trade Center. In the days following the 2001 terrorist attacks, Brian – who published a book in 2017 called “The Ground Zero Cross” – was a frequent presence at the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan, where he offered comfort to the victims and their families, first responders, and construction workers.

Daniel Horan, OFM, has written about well-timed topics in his recent columns for National Catholic Reporter. In his July 8 piece, “The preferential option for the removal of statues,” Dan, in part, writes, “Some statues and monuments are incontrovertibly offensive, erected to recount a traitorous movement of rebels that fought against the founding principles of this nation in order to preserve their claim to have a right to own other human beings and profit from their labor. They should be removed. Period.” In his June 24 column, “The truth about so-called ‘gender ideology,’” Dan says, in part, “The phrase ‘gender ideology’ is used in both religious and secular contexts, but I am most interested in how it is deployed in Catholic circles to cause grave harm to people already made vulnerable in an unjust society.”

Capistran Heim, OFM, was featured in a recent article in the Albany Times Union that focused on the challenges of visiting relatives in nursing homes during the pandemic. The story, “Visitor ban takes toll on NY nursing home residents, loved ones,” describes the challenges faced during a time of quarantine and social distancing. Capistran, who spent most of his religious life in Brazil and now lives in Teresian House in Albany, New York, celebrated his 50th anniversary as a Franciscan friar in summer 2010.

A new YouFra group has been established in Anderson. (Photo courtesy of Chris Dunn)

After two years of preparation and formation in Franciscan values at St. Mary of the Angels Parish in Anderson, South Carolina, 12 young people, ages 14 to 20, have made the rite of promise to establish a Franciscan youth fraternity (YouFra). The fraternity chose as its patron St. Joseph Sanchez del Rio, a 14-year-old martyr of the three-year (1926-29) Cristeros Conflict in Mexico. Christopher Dunn, OFM, who serves as the group’s mentor, Mike Jones, OFM, pastor of St. Mary of the Angels Parish, and Bob Menard OFM, of St. Andrews Parish in Clemson, South Carolina, participated at the June 28 rite of promise event. This is the first fraternity of YOUFRA, a program for teenagers and young adults, in the southeast region of Secular Franciscans, according to Chris who provided a photo.

► June was a month packed with ministry – both virtual and in-person – for Bethany Ministries. Peter Chepaitis, OFM, of Middleburgh, New York, and Sr. Anna Tantsits, IHM, attended an anti-racism vigil in the town park of Cobleskill on June 6. A week later, they visited the home of Ron, a Vietnam veteran with whom Peter had often stood at weekly peace vigils in the village of Cobleskill. “Ron went into hospice in early June and asked us to visit,” said Peter. “We were warmly greeted by his wife and three children. I was able to spend some time with him and celebrated Reconciliation. Then we prayed with him and anointed him – with the help of a vinyl glove, a cotton ball, and holy oil. We gave Communion to him and his family. We literally left him laughing.” Ron lost consciousness the next day, on the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, and peacefully passed away. Peter and Anna plan to participate in a July 26 ecumenical service at Timothy Murphy Park in Middleburgh – an annual event organized by local Reformed, Lutheran, United Methodist, and Catholic communities. Peter will reflect on some of the themes from his Corpus Christi homily.

Paul Chelus, OFM, shared photos on his Facebook page of the new normal at the Province retirement house in Butler, New Jersey, where friars got their “pandemic haircuts” responsibly – outdoors on the friary grounds by a stylist from Point After Salon.

Ross Chamberland (Photo from the provincial archives)

Through a divisional reorganization at St. Bonaventure University that took effect on June 15, Ross Chamberland, OFM, is now associate vice president for student affairs at the Allegany, New York, institution where he has worked for more than seven years. In his new role, he will share divisional oversight with the vice president for student affairs. “This is an exciting opportunity to continue expanding my knowledge and experience in the world of Catholic higher education,” said Ross, who will continue to serve on the faculty in the area of Theology and Franciscan Studies by teaching the core course every semester. He has served in a number of positions and departments at SBU, including university advancement, founding director of the Lateran Center for Catholic Identity, assistant vice president for student engagement, interim university chaplain, and special assistant to the vice president for enrollment – serving on the newly established team that ushered in SBU’s first 500-plus freshmen class in more than 10 years. 

John Anglin, OFM, of St. Petersburg, Florida, announced his retirement in a July 3 post on his blog, “A View From the Window.” In “An End and a Beginning,” John described how he arrived at the decision to become a “senior friar” and what his new life is like. “As of today, I am a senior friar or, if you will, I am retired. What does that mean? I want to make clear that I will be a priest and friar for the rest of my life. My province of the Franciscans permits us to become senior friars at age 75. I reached that milestone this past December. I was hoping to prolong this decision for a few years, perhaps until 80, should I live that long. The reality of the Covid-19 crisis has brought me to the awareness that I will not be going out to preach missions and retreats, or to preach for Unbound for the foreseeable future. When this crisis ends, I hope to continue my ministry of preaching. The difference is that I will be able to do as much or as little as I wish.” Through the years, John has written articles for HNP Today, including “Ministry of the Word: Into the Future with Holy Name’s Tradition.”

Topics planned for upcoming issues of the HNP Today newsletter include:

  • Reception of new novices and postulants
  • Solemn profession of two friars on Aug. 29
  • Presentations of the HNP Francis Medal

The next newsletter issue is scheduled for distribution on Aug. 12.

 — Compiled by Jocelyn Thomas

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