Friar News Briefs

HNP Communications Friar News

The updates below feature activities of Holy Name friars, including their celebrations, presentations, and ministry events. For more information, visit links to the parishes and organizations mentioned, contact the friars by phone or email, or connect with the HNP Communications Office.

To provide news briefs for future issues of HNP Today, email information to communications director Jocelyn Thomas at

John Anglin, OFM, returned last week from a mission trip to Honduras with Christ the King Parish in Little Rock, Ark. During the week-long journey, volunteers worked in various clinics and the local hospital in Trujillo. An evangelization team also traveled to nearby towns to hold encuentros. John wrote about his experience on his blog, The Wandering Friar.

Peter Chepaitis, OFM, director of Bethany Ministries, is serving as sacramental minister for two New York parishes — Our Lady of Fatima in Delanson and our Lady of The Valley in Middleburgh — until the new pastor arrives on July 1. When not on the road, Peter “had been involved with the parish in Delanson when the pastor of Middleburgh could not cover both parishes on Christmas, Easter and other occasions,” he said. He and Sr. Anna Tantsits, IHM, who live in Middleburgh, have been assisting with ministries in these parishes throughout May and June. Earlier this spring, Peter and Sr. Anna attended a conference near Pittsburgh, celebrating the 30th anniversary of Gestalt Pastoral Care, in which both Peter and Sr. Anna have received training. According to its website, this program integrates Gestalt work, spiritual companioning and healing prayer. Peter reports that on Good Friday, he used the “Stations in My Pocket” booklet produced by St. Anthony’s Guild as the basis for a town-wide ecumenical service in Schoharie, N.Y.

Last month, Thomas Cole, OFM, participated in the first International Congress for the Missions and Evangelization at the Carmelite Friary in Sassone, Italy. Organized by the General Secretariat for the Missions and Evangelization, more than 150 friars, sisters and laypeople from 100 entities, 50 countries and five continents attended the May 18 to 28 meeting. Tom, as a member of the GSME Executive Committee, served as a delegate for the English-speaking Conference. As a member of the congress’s planning committee, Tom was also moderator for the session dedicated to “Evangelization in the World of Today.” The theme of the event was “Go! Repair my Church!” Other participants from the ESC included the Provinces of Assumption, Christ the King, England, Ireland, Sacred Heart, St. Barbara and St. John the Baptist. Also participating were Kim Smolik and Bridget Higginbotham of Franciscan Mission Service and Joseph Rozansky, OFM, director of the Order’s Office for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation. Smolik and Higginbotham gave a presentation on the work of FMS and Joe spoke about JPIC. General Minister Fr. Michael Perry, OFM, presided at the opening and closing of the congress.

Thomas Conway, OFM, invites friars to send him messages for a longtime employee of St. Anthony Shrine, Boston, who is retiring on June 27. David Deskins has worked in facility maintenance since 1967. “We are having a retirement party for him on Friday, June 27. Friars with fond memories of David or those wishing him well in his retirement can send those messages to me and I will forward them on to him,” said Tom.

On June 20, F. Edward Coughlin, OFM, participated in his first meeting of the Siena College Board of Trustees since being named interim president. Earlier this month, the Loudonville, N.Y.,  college announced that Ed would  serve as temporary replacement for Kevin Mullen, OFM, who is leaving his position to serve as Provincial Minister. Ed has been a member of the board of trustees for three years. Since 2005, Ed has been vice president for Franciscan mission at St. Bonaventure University. Ed will take over as Siena’s interim president on Aug. 4, when Kevin moves to New York City.

St. Francis Parish in Triangle, Va., was recently recognized as a “GreenFaith Sanctuary” and as a faith-based environmental leader by GreenFaith, a national interfaith environmental coalition. “St. Francis of Assisi has shown deep commitment and leadership,” said Rev. Fletcher Harper, GreenFaith’s executive director. An article with a photo of pastor Kevin Downey, OFM, and Frank Critch, OFM, appeared this week in the Prince William Times.

A farewell party was held June 22 for Joseph Juracek, OFM, who is leaving his post as pastor of St. Mary’s Parish in Obernburg, N.Y., at the end of June. The Archdiocese of New York will begin staffing the parish on July 1. Joe has been stationed at the more than 120-year-old parish since 2008.

In the June issue of the Mt. Irenaeus newsletter, Joseph Kotula, OFM, reflects on preparing for the four-month sabbatical he is taking, beginning July 25.

Former Provincial Vicar Dominic Monti, OFM, is leaving New York City next week and will begin a sabbatical, while living at St. Bonaventure University. Outgoing Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, moved to his new assignment in Triangle, Va., this week.

Paul O’Keeffe, OFM, led a mission trip to South Africa from May 15 to 31 with 16 students from Siena College, St. Bonaventure University, and the University of St. Francis in Indiana. Accompanying the Siena students was Walter Liss, OFM. “The purpose of these trips is to provide students with an opportunity to understand the perspectives of people working at the grassroots level for social change in South Africa, and to meet with friars and others in the local Church who work for justice and peace,” said Paul, who has coordinated two similar trips to South Africa. The group visited Johannesburg, Durban and the Northwest region of the country, where students spent time in an AIDS orphanage and trade school run by the friars. Students also got an up-close look at how the poor live in South Africa, and visited a rural village. There they learned about traditional Zulu culture and the role of women in traditional society. In addition to morning and evening prayer and daily reflections, the trip also included time with local members of a Catholic youth group, who shared their dreams and struggles of life in South Africa.

The postulants of the OFM provinces in Canada and the United States have begun their summer program, directed by Ronald Pecci, OFM. Since arriving last week at St. Bonaventure, where they will take courses in the School of Franciscan Studies for five weeks, the men have helped at Canticle Farm in Allegany, a community-supported farm, and toured the Buffalo, N.Y., area. Photos can be found on the Postulancy of the Franciscans of Holy Name Province Facebook page.

Mark Reamer, OFM, welcomed Bishop Michael Burbidge to St. Francis of Assisi Parish last week when he visited a summer opportunity at the Raleigh, N.C., community.  Mercy Camp is a social justice summer camp for middle school youth designed to provide them with an understanding and appreciation of the Corporal Works of Mercy,” Mark said. During the week, youth have multiple opportunities to serve as Christ’s hands and feet to those in need in their community. In the past, campers have worked with ministries such as food bank, crop gleaning, Moore Sqyare/Ralegh Resue Missino, Ronald McDonald House, as well as a variety of others. Bishop Burbidge answered questions from the young people about his life and ministry.”

Andrew Reitz, OFM, and the friars of St. Francis Friary in New York City, where he is guardian, bid farewell to Fr. Melvin Jurisich, OFM, of St. Barbara Province, who served as General Visitor for the past year. The HNP friars held a festive dinner for him on June 22.

Daniel Riley, OFM, and the friars of 30-year-old Mt. Irenaeus Franciscan Mountain Retreat are holding their annual contemplative days from June 23 to 27. Other events planned by the Western New York ministry can be found on its website and in the monthly e-newsletter.

On June 28, Xavier Seubert, OFM, will present a lecture at The Cloisters of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He will speak about “Relics, Tombs and Masses: Medieval Rituals for the Dead” at noon and at 2 p.m. Registration is not required. Information is available on the website of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in New York City, where Xavier is director of adult education.

Brian Smail, OFM, who has served as HNP vocation director since fall 2007, reports that five candidates have been accepted into the Province’s postulant program for the 2014 to 2015 year.

James Vacco, OFM, is serving as one of two Catholic chaplains for the first week of the season at the Chautauqua Institution in Western New York. The pastor of St. Bonaventure Parish in Allegany is there from June 21 to 28.

News for the next issue of HNP Today is requested by July 2, always the Wednesday before the newsletter’s publication. Updates about the friars and their ministries can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Topics planned for future issues include:
•   Profiles of Patrick Tuttle, OFM, and Jud Weiksnar, OFM, marking silver jubilees of profession
•   Community event held June 17 at the Buffalo friary
•   Simple profession of Abraham Joseph, OFM, in August

 Compiled by Jocelyn Thomas