Friars Profess Solemn Vows

Jocelyn Thomas In the Headlines

NEW YORK — With their Provincial Minister emphasizing love and service, and challenging them to continue changing their perspectives on life, three Holy Nam Province friars professed their final Franciscan vows this weekend at St. Francis of Assisi Church on West 31st Street here. Lawrence Anderson, OFM, Fred Dilger, OFM, and Juan de la Cruz Turcios, OFM, were surrounded by friends and relatives at the Aug. 22 Mass celebrated by Provincial MinisterJohn O’Connor, OFM.

In his homily, John talked of the importance of living “according to the logic of love and not the law of the market,” describing examples of the “me-first” philosophy.

“People are caught up in their own thoughts and disregard others. Too often, our self identify is wrapped up in our self importance.

“These vows are not about making you famous,” he said, “but rather about making people feel special. These vows that you are taking challenge you to change your perspective on life and to focus on the poor, the disenfranchised and the forgotten.”

John told the friars that their vows are “about moving fences.” He said, “Our world has too much polarization; fences have been created among many groups. Your role is to help others see the world as a gift from God.”

John thanked Jerome Massimino, OFM, pastor of St. Francis, and the friars of the community for hosting the event. He also acknowledged the musicians for the Mass, led by Meredith Augustin, as well as the two masters of ceremony: Christopher Coccia, OFM, and Timothy Shreenan, OFM.

Friars and partners-in-ministry from a variety of Province locations participated in the profession ceremony, followed by a festive luncheon in San Damiano Hall, adjacent to the church.

Ministers of the Liturgy 
Provincial Vicar Dominic Monti, OFM, the Province’s secretary for formation and studies, and Francis Di Spigno, OFM, HNP director of post-novitiate formation, assisted John in celebrating the Mass. Rev. Br. Fadi Azar, OFM, of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, served as deacon. He was professed last year at Holy Name’s ceremony.

Formation students Frank Critch, OFM, Jeffery Jordan, OFM, Erick Lopez, OFM, and Edgardo Zea, OFM  served as altar ministers. The lectors, Eucharistic ministers and gift bearers — friends and relatives of the three friars being solemnly professed — came from many geographic areas including Pennsylvania, Maryland, North Carolina and Upstate New York.

The friars, who pledged to live their lives according to the teachings of St. Francis, had looked forward to their day of profession as a “a public validation of what we have been working toward these past few years,” according to Fred. 

“I was very excited,” said Lawrence. “The day was like a wedding. A final commitment for me to the Order and the Order to me. It is a significant event as part of my journey. I have always felt like a part of the Province as simply professed. This is a public proclamation of my commitment to the Order.”

Diverse Experiences
The three friars have varied educational backgrounds and vocations, hail from up and down the East Coast and vary in age, from 29 to 46. Two were called to religious life as second careers.

Larry, 44, a native of Geneva, N.Y., holds a master of arts degree in pastoral ministry from Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora, N.Y., and a graduate degree in social work from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Before joining the Franciscans, Lawrence, in the center of photo above, worked as a high school campus minister at Aquinas Institute in Rochester, N.Y. 

He said he joined the formation process at the age of 38 and had “done his homework” before entering. “I was cautious about entering, and I knew what I was getting into,” Larry said. “I am very much at peace.” He will be ordained a deacon on Sept. 5 at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington and then will serve his diaconate internship at St. Mary’s Parish in Pompton Lakes, N.J.

Fred, 46, at left in photo above, was born in Jacksonville, Fla., and grew up in Raleigh, N.C. He holds an associate’s degree from the Art Institute of Atlanta. Fred owned an interior design firm, with offices in New York City and Atlanta, before entering religious life. For the past two years, he has been working at the Province’s St. Francis Inn in Philadelphia, a ministry he enjoys very much.

sp“Working directly with the poor is what it is all about,” said Fred, adding “the community here is absolutely wonderful. I’ve been with the friars long enough to know that whatever I do in the future will be fulfilling and meaningful.”

In an interview done earlier this year by NBC, Fred said he was ready for a life shift when he joined the Franciscans. Though his successful career had provided him with a variety of benefits including celebrity clients and exposure through industry magazines, he said he yearned for “a life with more substance.” 

Juan, 29, grew up in La Union, El Salvador. He moved to the United States with his family as a teenager, settling in Maryland, where he worshipped at St. Camillus Church in Silver Spring. His parents currently take part in services at the mission church of St. Camillus in nearby Langley Park, Md.

Juan, who lives at Sacred Heart Friary in Tampa, Fla., holds an associate’s degree in fine arts and is beginning studies this month for his bachelor’s degree at the University of South Florida. He is the youngest Holy Name friar to be professed in several years.

He said he was attracted to the friars’ commitment and work with the Hispanic community. He also appreciates the fraternal life.

“After watching the friars help people, especially immigrants,” Juan said he thought, “I’d like to do this.”

Juan said that during his seven years of formation, he had been growing in many ways.

“I am no longer simply Juan de la Cruz Turcios. I am a Franciscan.”

— Jocelyn Thomas is HNP’s director of communications.