Friar News Briefs

Jocelyn Thomas Friar News

The updates below describe activities of Holy Name friars, featuring their 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
Two documents from the Franciscan Interprovincial Team were emailed last week to friars:  a report on the four structures being considered and a letter from the Franciscan Interprovincial Team.The Provincial Administration is asking HNP friars to save the date of Dec. 21. Holy Name Friary in Ringwood, N.J., has invited friars to attend a Christmas party, which will begin with an 11 a.m. Mass celebrated by Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen, OFM. The liturgy will be followed by preprandium and a festive meal.
Committee Updates
The HNP Ongoing Formation Committee has asked that friars return their completed surveys to the Provincial Office by Nov. 1.

Michael Calabria, OFM, of St. Bonaventure University, has written about the underlying causes for the recent violence in and around Jerusalem. Titled “Jerusalem: Promises of the Past and Problems of the Present,” it appears on the “Blog on Timely Issues” available on the website of St. Bonaventure’s Center for Arab and Islamic Studies, which Michael directs. On Oct. 10, Michael presented an all-day program at the Franciscan Spiritual Center in Aston, Pa., on “Mary and Jesus in Islam: Grace and Good News Beyond the Gospels.”

Casey Cole, OFM, of Silver Spring, Md., has taken his vlog to the streets. On Oct. 13, he posted an Ask Br Casey” segment that he filmed at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Triangle, Va. Children and adults posed a variety of questions with topics ranging from sports to favorite animals to how and when Casey decided to become a friar. More of Casey’s videos — including a documentary about a trip taken by student friars to Nicaragua with St. Francis Builds — are available on his YouTube channel.

Five friars from Holy Name Province are attending an interprovincial retreat of OFM friars involved with Hispanic ministry. They are Stephen DeWitt, OFM, chair of the HNP Hispanic Ministry Committee, Edgardo Jara, OFM, Erick Lopez, OFM, Jacek Orzechowski, OFM, and Gonzalo Torres, OFM. The gathering is being held at San Damiano Retreat near Danville, Calif.

On Oct. 5, pastor Thomas Gallagher, OFM, and the parishioners of St. Patrick-St. Anthony Parish hosted a press conference with Senator Richard Blumenthal. In information emailed to parishioners and friends of the parish, Thomas said he asked for the senator’s “insights and guidance in our response to the many people feeling persecution, war and poverty – the migrants/refugees around the world,” adding that Blumenthal “is committed to assisting as he can in this crisis. We are committee to the Gospel that engages us to welcome the stranger in as much as ‘whatever you did for the least ones, you did for me.’”

Xavier De La Huerta, OFM, of Philadelphia, is featured the October issue of The Pilgrim, St. Francis Inn’s newsletter. In addition to describing his life, the article, titled “50 Years And Still No Sign of Running Out of Steam,” describes Xavier’s role at the Inn. Information about the Inn’s ministries can be found on the website and social media pages of the more than 30-year–old ministry in Philadelphia. In June, Xavier and 17 other friars marking major anniversaries of profession in 2015 were honored by the Province with a special Mass.

St. Francis of Assisi Parish in New York City will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Delano Strike of 1965 with a daylong conference on Oct. 24 in San Damiano Hall. The five-year strike by mostly Filipino and Mexican-American migrant workers on grape farms resulted in table-grape growers agreeing to sign union contracts, granting workers better pay, benefits and protections. Two veterans of the strike, Roger Gadiano and Albert Rojas, will be among the main speakers at the NYC conference. The men will share their experiences and insights on how the Filipinos, Mexicans and other migrant workers’ groups were able to forge and preserve their unity during the five-year strike. “The lessons learned during the Delano Strike are still important today in light of the current fight for a 15-dollar-an-hour minimum wage, and in light of the continuing exploitation of migrant workers in the form of human trafficking, wage theft, discrimination and other unfair labor practices,” said Julian Jagudilla, OFM, director of the Migrant Center, one of the organizers of the conference. More information about “Delano @50: Celebrating Migrant Workers’ Solidarity” is available online.

Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen, OFM, is participating in the fall meeting of the provincial ministers of the English-speaking Conference this week. On Saturday, he will be in Albany, N.Y., where he will be honored by the Irish American Heritage Museum at its Governor Hugh Carey Awards dinner.

On Oct. 6, Jacek Orzechowski, OFM, gave a presentation titled “Pope Francs: A Troubadour of Hope on the Path of Ecological Conversion,” on Oct. 6 at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, D.C. Jacek, guardian of St. Camillus Friary in nearby Silver Spring, Md., and chair of the HNP Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Directorate, discussed the pope’s encyclical, “Laudato Si’.”

Frank Sevola, OFM, pastor of St. Mary’s Parish in Pompton Lakes, N.J., along with four staff members, returned recently from the second of four meetings of the Parish Catalyst Millennial Discipleship Learning Community in Los Angeles. The gathering of 10 parishes from around the country, held Sept. 28 to 30, is an opportunity to discuss, learn and plan for the integration of the millennial community into full discipleship in the Catholic Church, according to Frank. “Pastors and their parishes are nominated by other pastors, and there is then a lengthy interview of the pastor about his approach to ministry, the parish, the future of the parish and the priorities of the parish. Afterward, the interviews are vetted and a parish may be chosen for a learning group. Parish Catalyst has interviewed more than 200 pastors. The Province’s parishes in Raleigh, N.C., and Silver Spring, Md., participated in previous learning groups.” Information is available on the organization’s website.

Last week, Dennis Tamburello, OFM, of Loudonville, N.Y., attended the fall meeting of the national Reformed-Catholic Dialogue, sponsored by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and four major Reformed Church bodies: Presbyterian Church USA, United Church of Christ, Reformed Church of America, and Christian Reformed Church of North America. The meeting took place on Oct. 5 and 6 at New Brunswick, N.J., Theological Seminary. Round Eight of the dialogue focused on issues of the church, including questions of ministry, ordination, and church authority. “Among the other things we did at our meeting, we decided to put together a statement about the recent visit of Pope Francis to the USA,” said Dennis. “Our Reformed colleagues were very impressed with the pope’s visit (as were we), and we all saw the pope as a force for unity, bringing Christians together in a way that our ecumenical dialogues are also trying to do. Historically, the role of the Bishop of Rome in the church has been very controversial in Reformation circles. The Reformed churches have tended to see authority embodied not in a particular person like the pope or a bishop, but in a collective body. But Pope Francis’s gentle and humble style has made our Reformed friends in the dialogue group think differently about the papacy and its role as a source of unity in the church. We’re hoping that this statement will be publicized by our respective church bodies. But the statement as it stands represents only our view — that of the signatories — and is not an official church document.”

Vocation director Basil Valente, OFM, has announced several changes in the Province’s vocation team, effective Oct. 7. Daniel Kenna, OFM, is replacing Frank Critch, OFM, and Paul Santoro, OFM, as regional vocation director in Florida and in New England, Barry Langley, OFM, is replacing Gene Pistacchio, OFM, who has given roughly 15 years to vocation work. Basil is grateful to the HNP members who volunteer to welcome men who are interested in the Franciscan life and to organize events at local ministries.

News for the next issue of HNP Today e-letter is requested by Oct. 21, 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:

  • Celebrations of the 25th anniversary of friar presence at HNP ministries that were established in 1990
  • Francis Medal presentation at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Camden, N.J.
  • Essays about social justice issues

Compiled by Jocelyn Thomas

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