Friars Celebrate Christmas With Prayer, Parties

Jocelyn Thomas Friar News

Over the last month, friars throughout the Province gathered — with both impromptu get-togethers and formal holiday gatherings — to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and the joy of the season. Several of these fraternal and festive moments were captured in photos.

As Kevin Cronin happily posed with Santa, Bernadine Kessing  seemed less than impressed. (Photo courtesy of Paul Chelus, OFM)

In New Jersey, the sights , sounds and celebrations of the Christmas season came early for the friar-residents of  St. Catherine of Siena Nursing Home ,  when on Dec 6, the feast of St. Nicholas, friars from Paterson, Ringwood, Pompton Lakes and Wood-Ridge converged at the Caldwell facility for a special visit with their brothers.  After a morning Mass celebrated by Provincial Vicar Larry Hayes, OFM,  both visiting and resident friars enjoyed conversation and laughs over a festive luncheon.   Tom Cole, OFM, dressed as Santa Claus, visited not only the friars but also the sisters who live at the nearby convent.

“It was a wonderful gathering,” said Richard McFeely, OFM, of Ringwood, N.J., who serves as liaison to the HNP friars living at the nursing home. “It was heartwarming to see the fraternal feeling at a place that’s not a friary, but a setting that has become home to these friars since last spring.”

“We have a close relationship with these Dominican sisters,” said Robert Frazzetta, OFM, a Provincial Councilor.  “We often say that Franciscans are their cousins.”


Jorge and Josephine Rios help the friars in Butler reenact the struggles of the Holy Family. (Photo courtesy of Paul Chelus)

On Dec. 20,  at the friary in Butler, the friars reveled in a regional Christmas party and Las Posadas, the traditional observance commemorated in Latin American countries of the journey that Mary and Joseph made from Nazareth to Bethlehem. After evening prayer, the friars walked through the halls replicating  Mary and Joseph being turned away from lodgings on Christmas Eve, according to Robert. The procession was led by an employee, Jorge Rios, and his wife Josephine, who took on the roles of Joseph and Mary. Octavio Duran, OFM, a native of El Salvador, explained the origins of the Las Posadas tradition to participants, which included friars from nearby friaries.

The friars and sisters of St. Francis Inn with the friar-residents of  St. Ignatius Nursing Home. (Photo courtesy of Michael Duffy)

In Philadelphia, the friars of Juniper Friary in Kensington brought a hearty helping of holiday cheer to the friars living at St. Ignatius Nursing Home. They, along with the sisters who serve at St. Francis Inn, paused from their work for the Dec. 22 visit to the nursing home, which included a team dinner with the resident-friars  Inn, according to Michael Duffy, OFM, guardian.

The friars at St. Bonaventure University commemorating the holiday season as well as birthdays. (Photo courtesy of Dominic Monti, OFM)

In Western New York, the friars of St. Bonaventure gathered on Dec. 19 to celebrate the season. They exchanged gifts and had a festive dinner.

At the end of the semester, according to the guardian David Blake, OFM, the friars set aside a day for an Advent Day of Reflection to “talk about our life of prayer and Eucharist  and to read and reflect on Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter, ‘Admirabile Signum on the Significance of the Nativity,’ which was shared with the world on Dec. 1 in Greccio. The following day, the friars gathered for prayers, dinner and the exchange of Kris Kringle Christmas gifts. It was a nice celebration where we also celebrated – a little early – the birthdays of two friars, Fran Di Spigno and Jim Vacco.”

The friar community of St. Anthony Shrine in Boston. (Photo courtesy of St. Anthony Shrine)

In Boston, on Dec. 22, the friars of St. Anthony Shrine on Arch Street celebrated Christmas with their  annual fraternal party.

“Our tradition is to have a very nice dinner and move into the recreation room for our ‘pageant,’” said guardian Frank Sevola, OFM. “That consists of me doing something original and humorous as a way to give out gifts to the friars. This year, I wrote ‘An Arch Street Christmas Carol.’ On Christmas Day, after a busy Christmas Eve, I cooked dinner for the community.”

Friars of St. Camillus Parish in Silver Spring pause for a photo by their Christmas tree. (Photo courtesy of St. Camillus)

Friars at several parishes took group photos and shared them on their community Facebook pages to deliver season’s greetings. Among them were the St. Camillus Parish friars in Silver Spring, Maryland, and the St. Francis of Assisi community in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The Raleigh friars.  (Photo courtesy of St. Francis Raleigh Facebook)

Jocelyn Thomas is the director of communications for Holy Name Province.

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