Friars Participate in Brazil Anniversary Celebration

Jocelyn Thomas Friar News

Bishop João Casimiro Wilk, OFM Conv., of Anápolis, Goiás, celebrates the jubilee Mass as Provincial Minister Marco Aurélio and other friars concelebrate. (Photo courtesy of Fr. Alex Oliveira Almeida)

GOIÁS, Brazil — Seventy-five years ago, the friars of Holy Name Province began serving the people of Brazil. In June, the “daughter” province of Santíssimo Nome de Jesus, for which the North American friars laid the foundation, celebrated the anniversary of their founding and the contribution of their North American brothers.

Two Holy Name friars – Thomas Jones, OFM, and Anthony LoGalbo, OFM – traveled to Brazil to participate in a Mass closing the 75th jubilee year, which marked the arrival of the first North American friars from Holy Name Province to the state of Goiás, Brazil. The June 23 liturgy was held in the Church of Sant’Ana in downtown Anápolis, one of the first churches in Goiás for which the friars became responsible after their arrival in 1943.

Tony LoGalbo greets Sr. Maria José, abbess of one of the local Poor Clare monasteries. (Photo courtesy of Fr. Alex Oliveira Almeida)

Celebration of History and Collaboration
The bishop of Anápolis, Dom João Wilk, OFM Conv., presided at the liturgy, with Thomas and other priests and friars concelebrating. The provincial minister, Fr. Marco Aurelio da Cruz, OFM, preached the homily. Anthony, who ministered in Brazil in the 1980s, and a Poor Clare sister served as lectors. The church was filled with friars, sisters, local parishioners and people from parishes in Goiás where the friars serve, said Anthony. Following the Mass, a catered reception was held in the parish hall.

Two HNP alumni – Berard Hanlon, OFM, and Juvenal Leahy, OFM, who are now members of the Brazilian province – also participated in the commemoration.

Berard Hanlon, Juvenal Leahy and Thomas Jones celebrate the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the North American friars in the State of Goiás. (Photo courtesy of Fr. Alex Oliveira Almeida)

“The jubilee was a very important moment marking the North American presence that arrived in Goiás in 1943,” said Fr. Alex Oliveira Almeida, OFM, adding that Thomas celebrated the Mass that opened the jubilee year. “We’ve celebrated 75 years of the founding of Holy Name Province in the heart of Brazil. But, the first Franciscan friar, Fr. Henrique de Coimbra, OFM, arrived in 1500 when Pedro Álvares Cabral discovered Brazil. Since then, Brazil has always had the Franciscan presence.”

In a letter to the friars in Brazil, Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen, OFM, said, “On behalf of all the friars of Holy Name Province, I extend my heartfelt congratulations to you, our brothers of the Província Santíssimo Nome de Jesus, for your 75 years of ministry to the people of God in the heart of Brazil.

“In December 1943, the first eight Holy Name Province friars arrived in Brazil to work in the state of Goiás,” said Kevin in the letter that was read by Anthony at the Mass. “Guided by the needs of the people, they founded parishes, social service projects, and radio stations. Together with the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, N.Y, the friars established schools that educated thousands of children, including the future leadership of the city of Anápolis and the State of Goiás.”

“As you celebrate your 75th anniversary, we thank God for you, for your ministries and for the people you have served and continue to serve,” said Kevin. “May the Lord bless you in this time of grace and celebration and give you many more years of fruitful service.”

The opening procession of the jubilee Mass (Photo courtesy of Fr. Alex Oliveira Almeida)

Looking Back
Over the years, more than 60 Holy Name friars served in Brazil. “While most have returned to America or passed away, our brothers Donald Chin, OFM, along with Berard and Juvenal, still serve in Brazil,” said Kevin. “We are proud of the role we played in the founding of your province.”

The Province’s involvement in Brazil began when former Provincial Minister Mathias Faust, OFM, in his role as Delegate General for North America during World War II, recommended that Holy Name friars minister in the country to expand the mission work of the Province of St. Elizabeth in Fulda, Germany, who were then serving in a neighboring region of Brazil. The Provincial Chapter of 1943 accepted this invitation, and a departure ceremony was held at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Manhattan on Sept. 12, 1943.

The friars ministered to Catholics of widely varying religious commitment, trying to transform the Church’s institutional presence and build an environment of vital Catholic life, according to “Peace and Good in America: A History of Holy Name Province Order of Friars Minor” by Joseph White.

“The Brazilian friars eventually achieved enough numbers to enable them to become an independent entity in 1989,” said Anthony, adding that Berard and Juvenal were among the friars who became part of the new province, while Donald remained a member of Holy Name Province.

The celebration of the Eucharist during the jubilee Mass (Photo courtesy of Fr. Alex Oliveira Almeida)

Historian Dominic Monti, OFM, reflected on the Province’s role in Brazil: “I always felt a connection to Brazil, as the only other friars from my home town, Bradford, Pa., the late John Baptist Vogel, OFM, and David Babcock, OFM, spent their lives as missionaries there. They would write letters to us school children back in Bradford describing their work. We can be proud of Holy Name Province’s contributions to the church in Brazil. From ‘Day 1’ our friars ministered with the conviction that they had come to plant the seeds of a new, native province. This 75th jubilee year is an opportunity to recognize the great contributions of these friars.”

While he was in Brazil – a visit that was four weeks long – Anthony found it “interesting to see how some of the places have grown and developed since my mission experience from 1983 to 1986, and also how the friars there are trying to meet the challenges and continue the mission that the North American friars started.”

“In addition to attending the jubilee celebration, I visited the different houses of formation: in Anápolis (aspirancy and postulancy), the Regional Minorum Seminary, Goiânia (post-novitiate formation), and Catalão (novitiate),” said Tony, who since 2015 has been stationed at St. Anthony Shrine in Boston. “Before I returned to the U.S., I also spent four days in Petrópolis, outside of Rio de Janeiro, visiting a Brazilian friar who had spent some time living with our friars at Holy Name College in Silver Spring, Md.”

Tony, seated center,  and student friars cheer on Brazil in the FIFA World Cup. (Photo courtesy of Fr. Alex Oliveira Almeida)

While he was stationed in Brazil, Tony studied Portuguese at CENFI, the Brazilian bishops school for foreign missionaries to study the language and Brazilian culture in Brasília, and served in two places – Paróquia Nossa Senhora da Piedade in Porangatú, Goiás, and Paróquia Sagrado Coracão de Jesus in Pires do Rio, also in the state of Goiás.

“The bishop was a friar from Holy Name Province, Dom Jaime Schuck, OFM, who granted me permission to do Communion services, administer the sacraments of baptism and matrimony, anointing of the sick and to conduct services for the dead,” said Tony, who serves as a lay brother. “Since there was a shortage of priests, he gave me permission to do those pastoral duties.”

Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province. 

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