Friars Ponder Church Questions

Jud Weiksnar, OFM Friar News

MARGATE, N.J. — The first of the Province’s “Seaside Conversations” was held Feb. 4 to 5 at the Franciscan Friary here.

Is the Church an institution, or is it a transformational process that’s expressed through institutions? Is the intellectual task of the Church to say who’s okay and who’s not, or to define what it means for the Church to be Catholic? 

These are just two of the questions that Vincent de Paul Cushing, OFM, guardian of Gemelli House in Silver Spring, Md., and long-time professor of ecclesiology at Washington Theological Union, posed to a gathering of 11 friars as he kicked off the conversation by discussing “Current Directions in the Catholic Church Today.” The Thursday evening discussion was an overview of two powerful directions in the Church today in relation to Vatican II. 

Friday morning’s topic was “Central Understanding of Church in Contemporary Catholicism from 1965-2010: The Kingdom of God.” Both presentations led to spirited and engaging discussions. The friary curators welcomed guests with their trademark hospitality and made sure there was plenty of good food.

Curator Boniface Hanley, OFM, was in typical form, regaling us with stories about the great friars of Holy Name Province.

Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, who had to leave before the first presentation, suggested more events like this be held at Margate. The friars agreed that it was a great format and a great topic. 

The entire friar community from St. Mary Church in Pompton Lakes, N.J., made the trip. Pastor Kevin Downey, OFM, said it was his first visit to Margate, at the Jersey shore, in more than 30 years.

Coming up are “Seaside Conversations” by James Scullion, OFM, St. Francis Friary, Beach Haven, N.J., March 11 to 12, and Daniel Grigassy, OFM, pastor of St. Bonaventure Church, Paterson, N.J., April 22 to 23. Space is still available, but filling quickly.

Shown in the photo above are, from left, John Ullrich, OFM, William Mann, OFMJohn Quinn, OFM,   Vincent Cushing, OFM, Lawrence Anderson, OFM, Boniface Hanley, and Francis Gunn, OFM. 

— Fr. Jud is pastor of St. Anthony of Padua in Camden, N.J.