Friar News Briefs

HNP Communications Friar News

The updates below describe activities of Holy Name friars and feature celebrations, presentations, and ministry events. For more information, email the friars, contact 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 Administration
The sixth issue of the Province’s Inside-Out Wellness – a newsletter published by the director of health and wellness Amy Stewart-Wilmarth, was distributed to HNP friars on Oct. 5. It contains information about healthy eating, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Mental Health Awareness Month. Friars seeking a copy of any of the issues are asked to contact their guardians or the HNP Communications Office.

The friars of St. Francis of Assisi Friary and Holy Name of Jesus Friary in New York City last week hosted a  group of young men who are considering life as Franciscan friars. Several regional vocation directors — including John Aherne, OFMOctavio Duran, OFM, and Barry Langley, OFM – along with vocation director Basil Valente, OFM, provided personal reflections and discussion opportunities throughout the weekend. Timothy Shreenan, OFM, liturgy and communications director of St. Francis Parish, and Basil welcomed the guests on Oct. 5 to three days of discussions, presentations, meals, prayer services, liturgies, and visits to NYC-based ministries. “John focused on the importance of ensuring that Jesus remains at the center of one’s vocational discernment journey and Octavio explained vocational journey, highlighting his time with St. Oscar Romero, serving as the saint’s official photographer,” said Basil. “Barry focused on his conversion to the Catholic Church and his many ministerial opportunities over the years, and Basil led the group in a discussion of the three Franciscan vows — poverty, chastity and obedience — focusing on the paintings by Michael Reyes, OFM — depicting his own consideration of the vows.” Julian Jagdulla, OFM, led tours of the historic St. Francis of Assisi Church and showcased the value of Migrant Center. Andrew Reitz, OFM, pastor, along with Bill Beaudin, OFM, and Stephen Mimnaugh, OFM,described the many Franciscan ministries in New York City. More than a dozen photos were posted Oct. 8 on the Be A Franciscan Facebook page where videos of several presentations also appear. The HNP Vocation Ministry is planning two more retreats events for this fall — one in Florida and one in Massachusetts.

► Peter Chepaitis, OFM, and Sr. Anna Tantsits, IHM, were part of a “Community Gathering for Consolation and Hope Interfaith Prayer Vigil” to support family members and friends, as well as first responders, of the 20 people whose lives were tragically taken in the Oct. 6 limousine crash in the tight-knit community of Schoharie, N.Y. The prayer vigil was held on Oct. 10. “We were asked by the pastors of the Reformed Church in Schoharie to represent the Catholic community of Schoharie County,” said Peter, who heads Bethany Ministries – a contemplative prayer and collaborative preaching ministry, which he co-founded with Sr. Anna, that includes missions, retreats and interfaith prayer services. Peter and Sr. Anna sang the verses of the 23rd psalm at the beginning of the service, with Peter inviting vigil attendees in the packed gymnasium at Schoharie High School to sing the refrain, “My shepherd is the Lord, nothing indeed shall I want,” as he played the violin. “It was very emotional – people were hugging us, some who we knew from the community and others who we met that night for the first time,” Peter said. He and Sr. Anna were pictured in a story published in the Oneonta, N.Y., Daily Star newspaper.

Last week, Casey Cole, OFM, updated his “Top 10 questions video,” introducing it on his Facebook page as follows: Between wearing my habit in public and getting messages through social media, I get asked a lot of questions. Ever wonder what people ask me and how I respond?”  Other videos produced by Casey as well as his blog posts can be found on his website, Breaking in the Habit.

► Michael Johnson, OFM, is accepting inquiries from those interested in participating with St. Francis Builds in a service trip to Puerto Rico in July 2019. Information can be found on the website of St. Anthony Shrine in Boston, Mass., where Michael is currently stationed. Participants will travel to rural Puerto Rico, where they will partner with the Fuller Center for Housing to repair homes in villages that are struggling to recover from the effects last fall’s Hurricane Maria. St. Francis Builds is part retreat, part mission trip where participants reflect as a group on Franciscan values.

A new page has been published on the US Franciscans website by James McIntosh, OFM, director of USFranciscans communications. The page shows all OFM churches, shrines, missions, chapels, retreat houses, ministry sites, and educational institutions in the U.S. James is meeting this week with the USFranciscans Communications Task Force to discuss the Friar App and other methods being used to increase the visibility of the Franciscans of the United States.

On the weekend of Sept. 29, Dominic Monti, OFM, attended the 2018 national meeting of the U.S. Conference of Secular Institutes, which was held at the Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale, Ariz. Dominic attended in his role as ecclesiastical assistant to the Missionaries of the Kingship of Christ (SIM), the Franciscan Secular Institute founded by Agostino Gemelli, OFM. Guest presenter Fr. Ralph O’Donnell, executive director of the USCCB Consecrated Life and Vocation Office, gave a presentation titled “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.” Immediately following the conference, Fr. O’Donnell hopped a plane for the Synod for Youth in Rome. The SIM Council for the US Missionaries used the conference as an opportunity to hold its own meeting. Dominic, who is currently assigned to St. Bonaventure University in Western New York, has provided spiritual assistance to the Missionaries in various capacities since the mid-1980s.

Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen, OFM, spent last week in St. Louis, Mo., where he led the autumn meeting of the English-speaking Conference.  Before the ESC meeting began, he and leaders of the US-6 provinces participated in an Oct. 7 to 8  meeting  about the Revitalization and Restructuring Process.  Provincial Vicar Lawrence Hayes, OFM, one of three moderators of the R+R Process, also participated and, as he does after each meeting — whether held face-to-face or by conference call — wrote a report on the meeting discussions that was sent to the members of the US-6 provinces.

While in Prague recently to begin a fraternal visit of the Czech Province, Russel Murray, OFM, met up with Fr. Fadi Azar, OFM, a member of the Custody of the Holy Land who lived with the Holy Name friars while studying in the United States. “He lived with us at Holy Name College in Silver Spring, Md., while studying at the Washington Theological Union,” Russel said. “Fr. Fadi was in Prague to speak about the situation in Syria and the needs of the people he cares for in Damascus, where he serves as pastor.” Russel provided a photo that shows, from left to right: Fr. Bonaventura (director of post-novitiate formation), Fr. Fadi Azar, Russel and Fr. Jakub (provincial minister). Russel is currently stationed in Rome, Italy, where he serves as the Order’s general animator for evangelization.

Andrew Reitz, OFM, announced in his Pastor’s Corner in the Oct. 7 bulletin an upcoming milestone of St. Francis of Assisi Church on West 31st Street in New York City, where he has been stationed since 2011. “In 2019, the Church will celebrate 175 years of serving the people of New York City and the world,” Andrew said. “On May 9, 1844, the new coadjutor bishop, Most Rev McCloskey, blessed and laid the cornerstone of the then-new parish of St. Francis of Assisi between 6th and 7th avenues on West 31st Street.” During that time, he explained, the west side of Manhattan between 23rd Street and Times Square had 400 residents. “Tree-lined streets, farms and country estates dotted a pastoral landscape. Many of the inhabitants were German Catholics from Prussia, Bavaria, Austria and Hungary, even Bohemia,” Andrew said. “These were humble beginnings. To commemorate 175 years of service, 2019 will be a year of celebration with Franciscan-inspired events throughout.”

Topics that will be featured in future issues of this newsletter include:

  • An award given to Dennis Tamburello, OFM
  • Investiture of novices
  • 2018 meeting of guardians and pastors
  • Presentations of the HNP Francis Medal
  • New book by Kevin Mackin, OFM

— Compiled by Jocelyn Thomas

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