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Friar News Briefs – June 2020

The updates below describe recent activities of Holy Name Province friars. They highlight their presentations, honors, and some 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
Because of the pandemic, the dates of several major Provincial events have been postponed and are in the process of being rescheduled. Among them are the 2020 Chapter, which had been planned for the first week of June, and the Jubilee Celebration honoring friars marking anniversaries of their profession – Thomas Donovan, OFM, Scott Brookbank, OFM, John Gill, OFM, and Steve Kluge, OFM – which also had been planned for the month of June.
The Development Office has postponed several of its key events due to the pandemic. The St. Francis Breadline anniversary commemoration, which had been scheduled for May, is now being planned for the fall, while the annual autumn fundraising event, Night of Stars, has been rescheduled to April 19, 2021.

The novices express their support for Black Lives Matter. (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

► Friars around the country have been expressing their support of the Black Lives Matter movement and their solidarity for those protesting police brutality. On June 6, the Franciscan Interprovincial Novitiate posted on its Facebook page an image of nine novices holding signs with messages ranging from “Blessed Are the Peacemakers” and “Black Lives Matter,” to “Racism Is a Sin” and “We Still Have a Dream.” In Tampa, a sign saying Black Lives Matter has been posted at Sacred Heart Church.

John Anglin, OFM, posted two reflections recently on his blog, “View from My Window.” The reflections are titled “Science – Revelation of God’s Handiwork,” and “Emmanuel, God With Us.”

David Blake. (Photo courtesy of Octavio Duran)

David Blake, OFM, was among a dozen members and organizations of the St. Bonaventure University community honored with the annual 2020 Fr. Joe Doino Awards. David, an assistant professor of sociology at the university and guardian of the St. Bonaventure Friary, received the “adviser award” for his years of dedicated work as chaplain to the SBU club hockey team and serving as a support system for its players. The awards’ namesake, Joe Doino, OFM, was a beloved friar and SBU professor who also served as director of Franciscan novices.

Casey Cole, OFM, is featured in the June/July 2020 issue of St. Anthony Messenger magazine, published by Franciscan Media. The article, titled “Spiritual Nourishment in a Digital World,” highlights media ministries that feed the soul with daily content. The authors focus on Casey’s evangelization tool, BreakingintheHabit.org, which consists of a blog, YouTube channel, and social media presence. “He asks questions about faith and doesn’t pretend to always know the answers, but his keen insights and popular approach will appear to seekers who might not otherwise see Catholic faith as welcoming,” the authors said of Casey.

► As part of an effort to provide friars with interesting programs and a feeling of connection during the pandemic, David Convertino, OFM, guardian of St. Francis of Assisi Friary in New York City, has arranged several Zoom presentations. Recent programs were given by Vincent Cushing, OFM, of Silver Spring, Maryland, who spoke about “Church in the Time of Pope Francis,” Daniel Horan, OFM, of Chicago, who spoke on “Why Christ,” Linh Hoang, OFM, who spoke on racism, and Matthew Pravetz, OFM, of New York City, who dealt with the topic “Coronavirus: Should I Be Afraid?” 

►  Last month, George Corrigan, OFM, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Tampa, Florida, participated in an online dialogue with Catholic and evangelical leaders in Central Florida related to pro-life issues such as the coronavirus and climate change. He spoke about how Catholic social teaching helps achieve an equilibrium between the human person and the community around them.  The May 13 event was covered by several media outlets, including Crux, which quoted George in an article titled “On Laudato Si’ anniversary, Catholics and Protestants alike focus on common good.”

The cover of Dan’s latest book. (Photo courtesy of Amazon)

Daniel Horan, OFM, was appointed the Duns Scotus Chair of Spirituality at Catholic Theological Union and promoted to associate professor of systematic theology and spirituality. Both appointments became effective on June 1. Dan is the fourth holder of the chair. The first was renowned Bonaventure scholar Zachary Hayes, OFM, and Dan’s immediate predecessor was Ed Foley, OFM Cap., who held the chair since 2009. Additionally, Dan’s book, Catholicity and Emerging Personhood: A Contemporary Theological Anthropology (Orbis Books, 2019), received the 2020 Association of Catholic Publishers First Place Award for Theology Books. Besides his regular columns for the National Catholic Reporter, Dan has delivered several lectures remotely during the pandemic, some of which are viewable online. Among others, they include an April presentation called “The Spirituality of Thomas Merton in the Time of Coronavirus” –- which was part of CTU’s “A People of Hope” lecture series -– and “Celebrating God’s Community of Creation Five Years After Laudato Si’” –- a presentation in May for the Diocese of Ogdensburg, New York.

Joe Juracek blessing friar graves. (Photo courtesy of St. Anthony of Padua Facebook page)

► On Memorial Day, Joe Juracek, OFM, pastor of St. Anthony Parish in Butler, New Jersey, led the blessing of the tombstones in honor of friars who served the country in the U.S. Military. Joe said that in comforting those who grieve the loss of their loved ones, your healing becomes the hope in our hearts. A photo of the event was posted on the parish’s Facebook page.

► Three friars graduated recently from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago – including Abraham Joseph, OFM, and Roberto Tito Serrano, OFM, who received their master in divinity degrees, and John Neuffer, OFM, who earned a certificate in pastoral studies and plans to begin work on his masters in social work in the fall.

► On June 8, the Province’s leaders of justice, peace, and integrity of creation distributed JPIC resources in a new format. Their monthly email contained information about the Laudato Si’ Revolution, how to confront racism and white privilege, a June 10 educational webinar about DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), and a four-week series related to climate change. Erick Lopez, OFM, liaison to the Provincial Council, Jud Weiksnar, OFM, chair of the Province’s JPIC Directorate, Russ Testa, director of the Province’s JPIC Office, and Fran Eskin-Royer, senior staff assistant, are among the Province’s leaders in the forefront of planning webinars, workshops, and other presentations, sharing information in innovative ways, and encouraging the participation of Franciscan partners-in-ministry.

Matthew Pravetz. (Photo courtesy of Octavio Duran)

Matthew Pravetz, OFM, was honored at the May 19 virtual commencement ceremonies of New York Medical College. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the commencement to take place remotely – a first in the 160-year history of the Valhalla, New York-based institution. A resolution unanimously approved by Chancellor Edward Halperin and the college’s board of trustees acknowledged the Franciscan friar for his 37 years of service and friendship “as a beloved teacher, counselor, and mentor to generations of students, faculty, and staff.” Matthew, who lives at Holy Name Friary on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, received additional recognition with an award from the students of the college “for his excellence in teaching.” Matthew gave the benediction at the conclusion of the commencement ceremonies.

Jim Scullion, OFM, gave updates on Facebook last week about the damage caused by the June 3 storm that passed through southern New Jersey. The damage to St. Francis Community Center and the adjacent St. Francis of Assisi Church in Brant Beach forced Jim to close the center and church the day after the storm. “The roof over the counseling wing blew off and there is water damage to Counseling and the Children’s Wing,” the pastor wrote on the parish Facebook page. “The gym, parish wing, and pool all seem to be fine. Quite a storm.” The storm – which was the tail end of a long squall line known as a “derecho,” according to NJ.com – hit Surf City, just north of Brant Beach, with winds of 92 miles per hour.

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

  •  Ordination of Abraham Joseph, OFM
  •  Simple profession on July 2
  •  Solemn profession of two friars – Angel Vazquez, OFM, and Jay Woods, OFM
  • Healthcare work during the COVID-19 outbreak

The next issue of this newsletter will be distributed in mid-July. 

— Compiled by Jocelyn Thomas

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