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 Administration
In an update distributed on Sept. 25, the Provincial Council reported on its September meeting, held at St Francis Springs Prayer Center in Stoneville, N.C. The document includes information about: the revitalization and restructuring process of the United States OFM provinces, the southern Fraternity-in-Mission initiative, the Provincial Minister’s plan for canonical visitation, and a study of the infirmary, among other items. Guardians were asked by Provincial Secretary Michael Harlan, OFM, to share the Council’s report with friars who do not use email.
Several resources have recently been made available. A set of election reflections titled “Revolution of Tenderness” was compiled by the HNP Office for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation. It provides information, broken down into seven categories — Economy, Environment, Global Peacemaking, Migrants and Refugees, Racial Justice, Religious Freedom, Sacred Gift of Life — that can be used as bulletin inserts, handouts, and for general education.
For friars, the 2015 edition of The Provincial Annals was distributed last month and this week, the September edition of the HNP Directory was posted in the Friars Only section of

Friars and partners-in-ministry representing the Province’s three culture ministry committees gathered last month at Holy Name College in Silver Spring, Md., to discuss ways they can work together to strengthen their impact. Russ Testa, director of the Province’s Office for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, led the Sept. 14 meeting, which was attended by David Hyman, OFM, Joseph Nangle, OFM, and Kirk Gaddy of the African Ancestry Committee; Christian Seno, OFM, of the Asian-American Committee; and Stephen DeWitt, OFM, Christopher VanHaight, OFM and Ana Schmitt of the Hispanic Ministry Committee. Testa said the group will continue to collaborate, developing and implementing a plan in coordination with the Provincial Council.

The summer issue of The Anthonian Franciscan, distributed last month, is described by the executive director of St. Anthony’s Guild as “a fantastic issue that will give you hours of reading and wonderful inspiration.” In a letter in the magazine, David Convertino, OFM, says, “This issue will take you around the world and give you a beautiful picture of this global Franciscan family that you are a part of — all of us united in our devotion to St. Anthony, St. Francis and filled with the love and joy of Jesus Christ.” The summer issue includes articles about the visit that David and Thomas Hartle, OFM, and Basil Valente, OFM, took this year to the missions of California, about the poor Clare Sisters of Omaha written by Octavio Duran, OFM, a reflection about the Portiuncula by Russell Becker, OFM, and “My Franciscan Journey” by William Herbst, OFM.

►Thomas Conway, OFM, executive director of St. Anthony Shrine, Boston, invites friars and friends to the shrine’s inaugural Franciscan Dinner, being held at 5:30 p.m. on Oct 20 at the Seaport Hotel. Information about the fundraiser — which will include an auction and a presentation of the Pope Francis Award – can be found in the Shrine’s bulletin.

On Sept. 29, F. Edward Coughlin, OFM, gathered with other friars stationed at Siena College where he is president, to dedicate a Ring of Honor, a circle of engraved benches at the center of campus, to honor its generous benefactors. “As I walk about the college, I am pleased to see that our students are constantly using the benches as a place to gather, to talk, to enjoy the fall weather,” he said. “The circle has already become an integral part of our campus by promoting fellowship among our students and serving as a visual focus point at the center of our academic quad. Siena College was founded nearly eight decades ago to inculcate the ideals of St. Francis of Assisi into the young people it was preparing for careers and life beyond college walls – to sow hope where there is despair, joy where there is sadness, and light where there is darkness. The individuals, groups and families who have given so generously to support these ideals, and the ideals of knowledge and scholarship, have transformed the lives of generations of young men and women.” A reception was held with remarks from campus dignitaries, according to a news release, that was followed by a blessing of the Ring of Honor by Lawrence Anderson, OFM, Siena’s chaplain, and other friars.

Golden jubilarian Gerard Lee, OFM, was celebrated on Oct. 2 at St. Francis Chapel, outside Albany, N.Y., where he has served since 2000. Gerard was joined by friars from the Siena community including: Mark Reamer, OFM, the guardian, Ignatius Smith, OFM, vicar, George Camacho, OFM, Julian Davies, OFM, Daniel Dwyer, OFM, Michael Joyce, OFM, Paul Osborne, OFM, Michael Tyson, OFM, and Edgardo Zea, OFM. In his homily,  “Gerard reflected on the impact that the Siena friars had upon him when he was a student at Siena College,” Mark said, adding that  Gerard thought to himself, “This is a fraternity where I could be at home.’ He shared his Franciscan journey as a friar and priest over the many years.” Mark added, “Though the chapel is normally closed on Sundays to allow worshipers to attend their local churches, many of the chapel regulars joined in the special Mass and reception following.”

On Oct. 1, James McIntosh, OFM, and Joseph Nangle, OFM, two of the founders of the Assisi Community in Washington, D.C., gathered with friars and friends to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the community. It was on Oct. 4, 1985, according to Joseph, who lives at the Assisi community, that he and Jim walked into an empty house located in inner-city Washington, “and began this experiment. Shortly after, two other people, Marie Dennis and Rita Studer, a School Sister of Notre Dame (now deceased) followed. The Provincial at that time, Alban Maguire, OFM, had given me permission to be part of this effort. We named it the Assisi Community. Within a year, the community had grown to some 15 people — women and men, most lay and one married couple. We began with two ideals as guides: simple life-style and work on behalf of social change. Now three decades later, we have counted some 80 to 100 members who have lived for longer or shorter times according to their own life’s journeys. Today, we count 10 members. On Saturday, we blessed and planted two peace poles, one for each of the houses we now own, celebrated a Mass of thanksgiving in the backyard of one of the houses, and hosted one of our typical beans and rice dinner for the more than 75 people who joined us. Several members of Holy Name College as well as Jim, who now lives in Philadelphia, were part of that group. Someday, perhaps the history of our Assisi Community will be written. For the moment, suffice it to say that we are still a work in progress and enormously grateful for these 30 years of living out this unique expression of community in the Franciscan tradition.”

►John O’Connor, OFM, guardian of St. Francis of Assisi Friary in Triangle, Va., has been appointed to the Prince William County School Health Advisory Board, which advises in matters of the health and safety of the students in the county school system, the second largest in the state of Virginia. Its members include individuals from broad-based segments of the community, committed to creating healthy school environments so students may realize their learning potential. The group is charged to act collectively to advise the school division on broad-scope topics or on certain aspects of the school health program, including children with disabilities, vocational education, mental health, school nutrition, dropout prevention, school safety, drug and alcohol prevention, or family life education.

In his role as the Province’s moderator for missions and evangelization, Paul O’Keeffe, OFM, has organized an assortment of trips for a variety of groups to both learn about foreign cultures and, in some instances, to provide help to the countries’ people. For St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Raleigh, N.C., he led a trip to Cuba las month and will be taking another group from the same parish there next month. Paul has also arranged a Cuba trip for members of Sacred Heart Parish in Tampa, Fla., that is taking place in March. In addition, he is finalizing plans for 2017 Franciscan Missionary Union trips – to Cuba, India, and South Africa – as well as a pilgrimage to Italy. Paul welcomes those interested in educational and service trips to visit the FMU website.

News for the next issue of HNP Today is requested by Oct. 12 — 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:

  • The Hispanic Ministry retreat being held Oct. 10 to 13 for friars of all English-speaking Conference provinces
  • The interprovincial friary in Chicago

Compiled by Jocelyn Thomas

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