Friar News Briefs

Jocelyn Thomas Friar News

The updates below describe activities of Holy Name friars, featuring 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
Members of the Provincial Council met last week in Falmouth, Mass., for their April meeting. Among the topics discussed were the reconfiguration models favored by HNP friars, friar response to the Southern fraternity-in-mission initiative, property issues, healthcare, plans for next month’s guardians and pastors meeting, a report by Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen, OFM, on the spring meeting of the ESC Provincial ministers’ meeting, and a series of reflections on the friars’ role as Catholic citizens intended to serve as a “voter’s guide.” Provincial Council meeting reports are available in the Friars Only section of
Two new resources are available on the HNP Friars Only section of the HNP website: the May update of the 2015-16 HNP Directory, and a new resource from the HNP Ongoing Formation Directorate.

On May 2, the Albany Times Union newspaper featured a story about the friendship of Lawrence Anderson, OFM, and a student at Siena College, where he is chaplain. Titled “How a Friar and a Freshman Bonded,” the story appeared on the front page of the Capital Region section. It describes the friendship that developed between the two residents of Ryan Hall on the Loudonville, N.Y., campus over the past year.

In Western New York, Ross Chamberland, OFM, led an initiative to transform St. Bonaventure University’s oratory into a 24-hour adoration chapel. The public was invited to a May 4 dedication of the newly-renovated St. Joseph’s Oratory on campus that included a 4 p.m. Mass at the University Chapel in Doyle Hall followed by a Eucharistic procession to the oratory. Ross, executive director of SBU’s Lateran Center for Catholic Identity, said his job is to “pay attention to the ways we can promote Catholic identity on campus. It became clear that one way we could really improve was by having a more intentional public commitment to the power of prayer and the presence of Christ on campus.”

On April 21, Thomas Conway, OFM, talked with the governor of Massachusetts, Charles Baker, about programs going on at St. Anthony Shrine, Boston, where Tom is director. “Of the different things going on at St. Anthony Shrine, he was most interested in our annual gala event,” said Tom, who met Gov. Baker at a function in Boston. “At our gala this fall, we will honor Dr. James O’Connell, founder and president of Boston Health Care for the Homeless. Dr. O’Connell has spent his career caring for the homeless population of Boston. Boston Health Care for the Homeless has clinics all over the city and recently started one exclusively for homeless women at the Shrine. Gov. Baker served in 1992 as secretary of health and human services of Massachusetts, and later as CEO of both Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, a non-profit health benefits company. In those roles, Gov. Baker came to know Dr. O’Connell and his work with the homeless population of Boston. Gov. Baker was invited to our gala event where Dr. O’Connor will be presented with the Shrine’s first annual Pope Francis Award. Dr. O’Connell will also be the featured speaker that evening. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is an honorary co-chair for that event.” A photo of Tom with Gov. Baker was posted on the Shrine’s Facebook page.

An interview with F. Edward Coughlin, OFM, president of Siena College, was published in the April 21 issue of the Albany Times Union. The article, titled “Siena President Drawn to Intellectual Give and Take on Campus,” includes comments by Ed about the Capital Region, his attire, the importance of helping students learn to engage in constructive discourse, and his love of working with young people and ‘sparking conversations.’”

On April 28, Holy Name Province friars, including Edward Coughlin, OFM, Gregory Jakubowicz, OFM, Joseph Kotula, OFM, Kevin Kriso, OFM, James Vacco, OFM, and Jud Weiksnar, OFM, attended the St. Bonaventure University Gaudete Awards Dinner at the Hyatt Regency in Buffalo. This year’s honorees were Fr. Joe Bayne, OFM Conv., John, ’88, and Suzanne Berger, and Jack Connors. The event was chaired by Greg Bruno, ’74, a board member of Franciscan Ministries of Buffalo. “At events such as these, the highlight for many of the attendees is to re-connect with friars,” said Jud. “I was pleased to sit at the St. Patrick Friary table with many of our long-time volunteers. I could have felt just as comfortable at any of the adjacent tables, including Bishop Timon-St. Jude High School, Franciscan Ministries of Buffalo, and Hilbert College. Many of us friars would actually prefer to spend an evening directly helping the poor, rather than at a gala event. But it’s important for us to support, even if just by our presence, those people who sustain our ministries that allow us to serve the poor.”

On April 22, John C. Coughlin, OFM, director of the Catholic Center at University of Georgia, Athens, and his team held a dinner for participants in a recent alternative spring break. “We gathered all of our students who went on spring break trips with us to share a meal and reflect on our trips,” said staff member David Briones. “It gave our students an opportunity to share with each other the impact the trips had and how that impact will affect them moving forward. Twenty-eight students went on our ASB trips this year and 21 showed up for our dinner. Fr. John prepared crepes because his group asked him to make something special for our dinner.”

Four friars participated in the Franciscan Volunteer Ministry Board of Advisors meeting on April 23 at the Provincial office. They were Michael Duffy, OFM, Provincial Secretary Michael Harlan, OFM, Provincial Vicar Lawrence Hayes, OFM, and Juan Turcios, OFM, OFM. Michael Harlan is secretary of the board and Larry Hayes is its president.

►Edgardo Jara, OFM, and Michael Johnson, OFM, returned last week from Pine Ridge, S.C., where they helped the Lacota people as part of a St. Francis Builds Mission with parishioners from St. Camillus Church. A video showing scenes of the April 15 to 23 trip was posted in the HNP JPIC Facebook group.

Over the last week, Brian Jordan, OFM, was featured in two articles in The New York Times. A story published on April 29 titled “Remembering Brooklyn Priest Who Took on City and Ears of the Police” describes a recent Mass celebrated by Brian in honor of the late William Farrell, who was pastor of a Brooklyn Church a century ago when his battle with New York City officials over reforming the city’s welfare system led to hearings, and headlines, that exposed a widespread pattern of wiretapping by the New York Police Department dating back to at least 1895. A story published on May 2, “As Construction Deaths Rise, a Mass for Fallen Workers Grows” described the April 28 Mass in memory of construction workers who have died in the last year. “The memorial had been held since 2000 at Father Jordan’s home parish, St. Francis of Assisi on West 31st Street. Then came the crane collapse in March 2008 that claimed seven lives, six of them from the industry. The Mass was hastily moved to St. Patrick’s and has remained there since,” according to the New York Times whose website includes a video of part of Brian’s homily.

A video in which Robert Lentz, OFM, talks about creating his icon of the Good Shepherd for an inner-city church during the first Gulf War, a time of widespread distrust of Muslims, was posted recently on his Facebook page. Also posted on his page are quotes and blog posts by Robert as well as information about purchasing his artwork. Last month, Robert and Michael Reyes, OFM, led a retreat from April 22 to 24 at San Damiano Retreat House in Danville, Calif. “The purpose of the retreat was to describe the spirituality behind icons,” Michael said. “Conferences included lively discussion and hiking in nearby forests and hills. Participants left with a much different understanding of icons and Orthodoxy.”

►Russel Murray, OFM, spoke at the April 18 to 22 meeting of the International Council for Missions and Evangelization, held at the OFM Curia in Rome. In his role as general animator for evangelization, Russel co-hosted the meeting with Br. Luis Gallardo, OFM, General Secretary for Missions and Evangelization and General Animator for Missio Ad Gentes. The purpose of the meeting was to set the tone for this sexennium by reviewing the projects and commitments of both the secretariat and the various conferences in light of the most recent General Chapter and, with an eye toward the Order’s more immediate future, the General Definitory’s Animation Guidelines for 2016-17. The Council was also asked to review and update the Particular Statutes of the Secretariat, and to do the same for its own statutes, something that had not been in 10 years. His involvement in the Council meeting could best be described as “nuts and bolts,” i.e., chairing sessions, refereeing discussions, and participating in the work on the Particular Statutes, all of which was about as exciting as it sounds, according to Russel. “What did truly excite me, though, was, with very few exceptions, the council’s desire to renew and update the Order’s commitment to mission, particularly to explore the development of new mission ventures for friars in initial formation and, what is more, for young adults. With an eye toward the development of such ventures, the Council’s new executive committee was very impressed with the work already done by HNP’s own Paul O’Keeffe. OFM. Luis and I hope that what Paul has done may serve as a paradigm for what other custodies, provinces, and conferences could do in the not-too-distant future.”

At its semi-annual meeting last month, Joseph Rozansky, OFM, was elected president of the International Board of Directors of Franciscans International. In September, Joe finished 10 years in Rome as director of the OFM Office of Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation. While there, he also worked closely with Romans VI, the JPIC group of the Franciscan Family, according to the FI website. The board bid farewell to two staff members: Francesca Restifo who was the director of advocacy, stationed in Geneva, and Amanda Lyons who was the director of the Americas Program, stationed in New York. The new director of advocacy is Sandra Ratjen.

On April 26, Christopher VanHaight, OFM, participated in the April 26 press conference held by Durham CAN (Congregations, Associations and Neighborhoods). It was held in front of the Durham, N.C., police department headquarters to “raise issues we wished to discuss with the new police chief. The press conference had been planned for many weeks and it just so happened that Durham announced the name of the new chief earlier that day, Cerelyn Davis. As the only group there at that particular moment, we received significant press coverage.” The event was covered in the Raleigh, N.C., newspaper in a story titled “Durham Clergy Call for Police Department Transformation.” Chris, pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish, spoke on two topics. “One was to call into question the location, effectiveness, and trust issues surrounding police checkpoints in Latino neighborhoods. These are a concern for many of our parishioners and their neighbors. Second, I praised the department for working with us on the Faith ID program, helping provide some form of ID for immigrants so that if they are involved with the police, they have some form of ID and will not be taken into custody solely for the lack thereof, which occurs regularly. We hope the new chief will embrace the program.” In addition to Chris, others from the parish — including Maryann Crea, minister to the community, Katushka Olave, minister to the Latino community, and more than 25 parishioners, both Latino and Anglo — attended the event. “We all felt that it was important to stress our desire to work with the police department to improve community relations across Durham,” he said.

News for the next issue of HNP Today is requested by May 11, 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 Francis Di Spigno, OFM, Patrick Fereday, OFM, and other friars marking their silver jubilees of profession
  • Commencements at the Province-sponsored colleges on May 15
  • Meeting of HNP guardians and pastors in June

Compiled by Jocelyn Thomas

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