Friars Mark Centennial of Upstate New York Church

HNP Communications In the Headlines

YOUNGSVILLE, N.Y. — New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan joined Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, friars and parishioners on Sept. 27 in celebrating the 100th anniversary of St. Francis Church here, a parish formerly staffed by Holy Name friars.

The Sullivan County church in Upstate New York was founded by friars who began ministering in nearby Jeffersonville in 1892. St. Francis Church was dedicated on Oct. 13, 1909. 

Ignatius Smith, OFM, pastor of Holy Cross Church in nearby Callicoon, attended the celebration and shared in the reminiscences of the Province’s history in this rural area of New York state. 

Holy Cross is just one of the ministries that the Province still manages in the Catskill Mountains area. Others are St. Francis Xavier Church in Narrowsburg, St. Mary Church in Obernburg, and St. Anthony of Padua Church in Yulan. In addition, Peter Chepaitis, OFM, leads the HNP Ministry of the Word’s Bethany Ministries in Middleburgh, N.Y., and Kevin Mackin, OFM, is president of Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains. 

Holy Name friars cared for St. Francis and its mission church, St. George in Jeffersonville, for 94 years before relinquishing oversight to the Archdiocese of New York in 2003 because of lack of personnel. Over the past century, the church was served by numerous Holy Name friars, many of whom have passed away. 

Privileged Ministry
Dominic Sonnabend, OFM, was the parish’s first pastor. Paul Osborne, OFM, now in Brazil, was pastor of the church in 2003. 

“It was our happy privilege as Franciscans to serve the people of Youngsville for over a century, from 1892 when we began ministering in Jeffersonville to the establishment of your own church in 1909 until 2003, when due to lack of personnel, we reluctantly relinquished the care of St. Francis,” wrote John in a letter to Fr. Ignatius Vu, current pastor of St. Francis and St. George Church. “Our friars are grateful for the years we spent with you and proud of our contribution to the growth of your faith community.”

John Felice, OFM, Provincial Minister when Holy Name friars left the parish, wrote that the Province’s relinquishment was with the “deepest regret,” and that the spirit of St. Francis would carry on in the beauty of Upstate New York, especially in its Catskill Mountains. 

He wrote to the church community on Oct. 15, 2003: “You have been supportive of our friars for over 110 years. You have built up a vibrant and progressive parish and shared in the leadership and development of this community.”

In addition to Paul, those who remember their ministry at St. Francis include Joel Munzing, OFM, and Robert Nee, OFM, both living at Holy Name Friary in Ringwood, N.J.

Friars Who Ministered in Youngsville
Deceased friars who ministered at the parish include:
 Angelus DeMarco, OFM, whose first assignment was to the minor seminary in nearby Callicoon, where he taught Latin, German, and music. He also cared for St. Francis Church. 

 Edward McGuire, OFM, who taught English and Latin at the Callicoon seminary, and later was pastor of St. George Church. He co-founded a parochial elementary school with Angelus. 

 Raymond Lynch, OFM, was pastor of St. George for 10 years.

 Ildefonse Gillogly, OFM, whose first assignment was to the Callicoon seminary, where he taught Greek and English, and cared for the mission church in Youngsville.

 Edward Greene, OFM, whose final move was to Jeffersonville in 1979. He was a longtime pastor of St. George and St. Francis.

 Luke Panfoerder, OFM, taught in Callicoon and was in charge of St. Francis Church.

 Theophane Larkin, OFM, who went to Callicoon in 1906, where he was the prefect of discipline and a professor for 11 years. He was then assigned to St. Anthony’s Guild as an editorial assistant from 1944 to 1952, and later returned as pastor in Youngsville.

John O’Connor summed up the Province’s connection: “We value still our ties to the good people of Youngsville. May the story of St. Francis Church continue to be one of vibrant faith and generous service to the needs of our brothers and sisters. May the Lord continue to bless all of you with his peace and good in the years ahead.”

Shown in green vestments (left to right) are Anthony Moore, OFM, pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Church in nearby Yulan, John Richardson, OFM, of Butler, N.J., Ignatius Smith, Fr. Vu, Archbishop Dolan and John O’Connor.

— Wendy Healy, a freelance writer, is a frequent contributor to this newsletter.