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
An update from the current facilitators of the Revitalization and Restructuring Process of the U.S. OFM provinces was distributed to HNP friars this month. The document, written by Provincial Vicar Lawrence Hayes, OFM, and Fr. Dan Anderson, OFM, of St. John the Baptist Province, provided a synopsis of a recent phone meeting held by provincial ministers. It included the proposed date for the 2018 extraordinary provincial chapters as well as information about the “national approaches” groups, sharing of financial information and the use by friars in formation of discussion questions. Friars who do not have the document may contact Provincial Secretary Michael Harlan, OFM, at the Provincial Office at 646-473-0265.

On Thanksgiving morning, five friars from Chicago participated in the 39th annual Turkey Day Run Chicago 5K/8K. The runners were John Aherne, OFM, Eufemio Dimas, OFM, Daniel Horan, OFM, Juan Turcios, OFM, and Fr. Eric Seguin, OFM, of St. John the Baptist Province. “Funds were raised and food was collected to support the Greater Chicago Food Depository, which partners with local agencies and programs including food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters to distribute more than 160,000 meals every day,” said John. “It was a ton of fun, and a great experience of fraternity. Dan and I ran in the 8K run and Juan and Eufemio ran in the 5K run.” In Buffalo, N.Y., Jud Weiksnar, OFM, ran in the YMCA Turkey Trot, an 8K footrace, also on Thanksgiving morning. “I have participated in the Turkey Trot on several occasions, going back to the ‘80s,” said Jud. “It is the oldest consecutively-run road race in the United States, one year older than the Boston Marathon, and includes 15,000 people. I was the only runner wearing a religious habit, one that I hemmed at the knees for safety’s sake. Only one person asked if I was a monk! Between bicycling and ice-skating seasons, I like to run a few races. But my marathon days ended in 1985. I could have never run as many as Brian Jordan, OFM. My goal is to run a race together some day with John Aherne, Dan Horan, and other young friars.”

Also on Thanksgiving, four novices in Wisconsin – James Bernard, OFM, and Steve Kuehn, OFM, from Holy Name Province, and Bradley Tuel from St. Barbara Province and Kestas Watson from the Custody of the Immaculate Conception in Great Britain – participated in the Thrivent Turkey Trot 5K Run/Walk in Burlington. “The Trot benefitted Love Inc., a non-profit based in Burlington, where the novices volunteer – rotating so that each of us gets there once per week,” said James. “Love Inc., has a variety of programs that help the needy in Western Racine County. Love gave out turkeys at the race. They also held a food drive at the trot and runners were encouraged to come with food donations. As part of our ministerial assignments at Love, we have taken in donations, handed out turkeys for the holidays, sorted through and hand-priced second-hand items for resale, packed gift boxes for the holidays and done various other odds and ends. The trot was a great way to support those in need within the local community and burn off some calories before our Thanksgiving dinner. Most of the men in post-novitiate formation at St. Joe’s in Chicago came to Burlington to share the Thanksgiving meal. Steve and I had both run the Turkey Trot 5K last year in Washington, D.C., when we lived nearby as postulants.”

During the week of Nov. 21, the OFM Special Commission for Dialogue with Islam, chaired by Michael Calabria, OFM, met at the Franciscan Curia in Rome, Italy. In addition to Michael, the commission’s members include friars Fr. Jamil Albert, OFM, of Pakistan, Fr. Ferdinand Mercado, OFM, of the Philippines, and Fr. Manuel Corullón Fernandez, OFM, custos of the Moroccan Custody. “The friars of the commission together bring a wealth of knowledge and lived experience of Christian-Muslim relations from four very different cultures and contexts,” said Michael, who was named earlier this year as the Order’s general assistant for dialogue with Islam. “The Curia established the special commission in spring 2016 to act in conjunction with the Commission on Dialogue, headed by Russel Murray, OFM, who also attended the week’s meetings. This first meeting focused on plans for the 2019 commemoration of the 800th anniversary of St. Francis’ meeting with the Egyptian Sultan, al-Malik al-Kamil. The commission is developing educational resources and pastoral aides to be used in conjunction with local observances around the world, and will make them available on the Curia’s website. The commemoration will comprise a yearlong observance beginning in fall 2018 and culminating in Damietta, Egypt, in fall 2019. In addition, the special commission will seek to assist friars engaged in Franciscan-Muslim relations and dialogue through the creation of a directory to help coordinate efforts and share information across the Order’s provinces and conferences. Moreover, the special commission will seek ways to make interreligious relations and dialogue with Islam a consistent part of initial- and ongoing formation for the Franciscan family worldwide, and provide resources as needed. As Jamil, our brother from Pakistan said: ‘Dialogue must be the DNA of the Order.’”

On Nov. 15, at a gathering of friars and friends in New York City, John Felice, OFM, and John McVean, OFM, co-founders of St. Francis Friends of the Poor, were recognized by General Minister Fr. Michael Perry, OFM. The friars, who more than 35 years ago established the first of three St. Francis Residences in New York City for mentally ill people, were given a medallion that acknowledged “the creative example of how a fraternity-in-mission can apply the values and practices of Franciscan life in order to create communities of loving concern where vulnerable people can flourish.” A video titled “Lives Lived, Lives Saved” about the history of the residences and the work of John and John was shown at the reception in San Damiano Hall on West 31st Street. It includes an interview John Felice did on the Good Morning America television show in 1985 and many images of the three residences that currently house 255 people. In October, John and John were honored by the Supportive Housing Network of New York.

A piano piece written by postulant Gilbert Galindo will be performed on Dec. 2 at the Broom Tree Theatre at Art House Astoria in Astoria, Queens, N.Y. It is the premiere of the first piano piece he has written in 10 years. “‘My soul waits’ will be performed by David Broome on Random Access Music’s first concert of the season, ‘Random Number One,’” said Gilbert. “And in case you missed it, you can view a fantastic performance of Lost in the Caves with Thomas Piercy on bass clarinet and Guy Barash on electronics on the Nov. 12th Tokyo to New York concert at the Tenri Cultural Institute.” Gilbert joined the HNP postulant program in August.

Earlier this month, Daniel Horan, OFM, gave a presentation at the annual Interfranciscan Formation Conference at Graymoor Retreat Center in Garrison, N.Y. In the Nov. 28 issue of the e-newsletter of the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, Sr. Liz Schumacher, OSF, praised Dan’s talk. “How timely and timeless the topic was ‘Prayer and Contemplation in the Franciscan Tradition’ by Fr. Dan Horan, OFM (from Catholic Theological Union, Chicago, IL) presented in his lively and humorous way. For more on Fr. Dan’s talk, see the Franciscan Spirituality page on the FSA website,” she said. “How fortunate too to have this (rare) occasion to gather, meet, share, and celebrate with First, Second, and Third Order religious as one Franciscan-Clarian family.” More than 55 religious – one of the largest groups in recent years – attended the Nov. 8 to 11 program. “On the last morning together, Fr. Dan turned the discussion to how, as Franciscans, we are called to respond to what may lie ahead with regard to the election results and the pressing concerns of our day such as immigration and freedom of expression (not to mention health care, wealth inequality, care for the earth, and torture),” said Sr. Liz. “Uniformly the consensus is that daily prayer and contemplation is the first response after which we need to get to work asking “What is mine/ours to do?”.” Information about Dan’s presentations, as well as photos and videos, can be found on his Facebook page.

The Migrant Center of the Church of St. Francis of Assisi is commemorating International Migrants Day, Dec. 18, by holding a Las Posadas & Lantern Festival in New York City. Julian Jagudilla, OFM, director of the three-year-old center, invites interested friars and laypeople to meet the group at 4 p.m. in Union Square to participate. Details were announced in the Nov. 27 bulletin of St. Francis of Assisi. On Dec. 17, the Migrant Center is holding an International Human Rights Day conference.

In the November issue of the Mt. Irenaeus newsletter, Kevin Kriso, OFM, shares information about the recent community service and reflection day, a semi-annual event at the Western New York retreat center where he is guardian. “Many of our volunteers say that because the Mountain has given so much to them, they want to give back so others can also enjoy this special place,” he said. The issue also includes a survey of readers.

Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen, OFM, has been in Hartford conducting fraternal visits with HNP members. On Dec. 1, he is traveling to Buffalo, N.Y., to participate in a meeting of the St. Bonaventure University Board of Trustees.  Next week, he will be visiting friars in Philadelphia, Wilmington, Del., and northern New Jersey.

On Nov. 19, the Latino Ministry at Boston’s St. Anthony Shrine participated in a daylong retreat, led by Gonzalo Torres, OFM, from Pompton Lakes, N.J. Photos were posted on the St. Anthony Shrine Facebook page.  Gonzalo, a native of Colombia, has been stationed at St. Mary’s Parish in Pompton Lakes since 2011.

Vocation director Basil Valente, OFM, reports that four men have been accepted into the Province’s 2017 postulant class. For the last few weeks, he has “been on the road visiting with the friars and vocation candidates in Silver Spring, Md., Clemson and Greenville, S.C., and in Durham and Raleigh, N.C. Thanks to the invitations by our friars, from the many laymen and women throughout the Province, and from the Holy Spirit, we have 37 men in active discussion with Holy Name Province as of Nov. 28. These discerners are working with the vocation team to more completely understand God’s calling in their lives. Of that group, three men began the application process to Holy Name Province. Additionally, I recently had the opportunity to participate in the prayerful ceremony of Investiture on Nov. 20 in Burlington, Wis., when our four novices, Adolfo, Steve, Jim and Nick, received their habits — powerful symbols of the Paschal Mystery. The Franciscan habit challenges us to die to self and to rise with Christ to new life. These newly invested friars continue to risk a great deal — in today’s society — for the sake of the kingdom of God. As Michael Blastic, OFM, asked so eloquently in his reflection during the Investiture ceremony, ‘How does the habit of the poor person “swaddle us” and allow us to be even more deeply connected with our brothers and sisters, while embracing the Cross of Jesus Christ?’ Our prayers and our love go with all the newly invested friars.”

News for the next issue of HNP Today is requested by Dec. 7 — always the Wednesday before the newsletter’s 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:

  • Update about the 2016-17 postulant class
  • Formation intersession gathering of simply professed friars
  • Franciscan Volunteer Ministry

Compiled by Jocelyn Thomas

Related Links