Friars Reflect on the Chapter, Memories of HNP, and What’s Ahead

HNP Communications HNPNow

Sadness. Joy. Bittersweet. Exhilaration. It was a confluence of emotion that friars were feeling at the final Provincial Chapter of Holy Name Province – and understandably so. Friars were happy to be connecting again after the pandemic caused a long break between Chapters. But many also realized it would be the final time they would convene under the Holy Name Province banner. During breaks in the program of the weeklong Chapter, held on the bucolic grounds of Siena College in Loudonville, New York – in the midst of the speeches and presentations, and activities and social gatherings – HNP NOW’s roving reporter invited friars to share their reflections and memories – and whatever came to mind – about the final Provincial Chapter, their legacy Province and what’s ahead as the US-6 provinces complete the unification process a few months from now to become a singular national province. Editor’s Note: The only regret of this roving reporter was that he couldn’t speak with every friar!

Jason Damon, OFM
Ss. Columba-Brigid Parish … Buffalo, New York
The words that come to mind are hope – hope for the future. And excitement – excitement about Franciscan life. It has been invigorating – being together with brothers, reconnecting with guys, and getting to know others better. The liturgies and great voices, the presentations – all of it has been incredible. Just a blessing to be here. The Chapter gives us a week of serious dialogue, socializing, and processing everything that’s happening in the Province. I am proud to be with Holy Name and all of the opportunities and ministries the Province has offered. Having lived interprovincially in different places around the country, I am also excited about the future and opportunities with the new province.
Octavio Duran, OFM
St. Anthony Friary … Butler, New Jersey
As we move forward to the new province, my thought is this: Only look at the past if the past is going to enhance the future. Take what is good and put it into service for the people of God with our new brothers. The memories that come to mind at this Chapter are those shared with the brothers, especially the brothers who helped shape me as a friar and the brothers we have lost. Jeremiah McGinley was a special brother. He generously shared his lived experiences and always encouraged me to share his stories with others. I lived with a friar in the Bronx who was so giving. The same guy would come to the friary every week with the same story of why he needed money. His mother died at least three times. The moral – give no matter what. Franciscans give. That’s what the Province and friars have taught me.
Henry Fulmer, OFM
Sacred Heart Parish … Tampa, Florida
Holy Name Province has always been about collaboration – especially the things that we do with our partners-in-ministry. For the most part, I think people are happy. But it’s mixed with fear and trepidation because of the uncertainties that come with change. What will the new province look like? How will decisions be made? Will friars have a voice? These are all reasonable questions that friars are asking. I am heartened by the fraternity at the Chapter – being with the guys, praying and eating together, seeing all of us in different places of our lives. I am thankful for what Holy Name Province has given to us – training, education, and developing us to be leaders and giving us the freedom to create ministries. It amazes me that whether we were at a place for 75 years or five years, even though we left, the Franciscan charism carries on. It will be the same way when we become part of the new province. We may be leaving behind our legacy Province, but we will carry our memories and stories with us for the rest of our lives.
Gregory Gebbia, OFM
Siena College … Loudonville, New York
It has been a plethora of emotions, a constellation of feelings, because there is a certain sadness that something is coming to an end. Something new is gelling and buzzing in a wonderful way, but there is anxiety and worry about it. The Chapter has been a time to be grateful. We seem to be letting go and, as a group, accepting what’s happening – looking to the future and all the possibilities. I think we are ready for this. The speakers have been wonderful – confident, competent – and there is nothing like a good homily to bring heaven down to earth! The Word of God is touching us. Holy Name Province has given us the ability to search, the ability to question; it has shown us forgiveness for failures, that we are imperfect. And it has encouraged us to let our light shine.
Gregory Jakubowicz, OFM
St. Joseph University Parish … Buffalo, New York
The best part has been being together with the brothers I haven’t seen since 2018. It has been energizing. Jim Sabak’s presentation was masterful. There may be some apprehension about the unification of the provinces, but none of us are alone. There is a sense of hope among the brothers. As someone who was taught by the Franciscans at Timon High School (in Buffalo) and at St. Bonaventure University, the friars were my heroes, so my fondest memory will always be when I professed my first vows to be part of this fraternity. What we have done well as a Province has been our ability to create new ways of relationship with the people of God in this world. May we continue to be good stewards.

Jeffery Jordan, OFM
St. Anthony Shrine, Boston Massachusetts

The Chapter has been a positive and embracing experience of the brothers. We are all genuinely happy to see each other. There is transparency and honesty when we engage each other about our feelings, struggles, and hopes for the new province. This final Chapter – this ending – is bringing us closer together in a profound way toward the new beginning that awaits us. It gives me hope. It makes us closer as we enter into this new journey together. The memory I will always keep is when I was in early discernment, just joining the friars. Initially, I was interested in the Jesuits. But I was drawn to the friars because of how they really cared for me, they invited me into their lives and to be part of this fraternity. It was not forced, but rather a genuine welcome and openness that accepted me.
Cidouane Joseph, OFM
St. Anthony Shrine … Boston, Massachusetts
Being a Franciscan friar with Holy Name Province was a good decision when I was discerning. I was looking forward to this Chapter to meet brothers I have never met, and others who I haven’t seen in years because of the pandemic. I am trying to balance the joy and the disappointment – joy in seeing how everyone is so genuinely happy to be with one another, and some disappointment of not seeing some of the friars I was expecting to be here. But through it all, I don’t know if I am excited or fearful of the end result – of this being our last Chapter and the new province on the horizon. But I am embracing this with faith and hope.
Christopher Keenan, OFM
St. Anthony Friary … Butler, New Jersey
The scriptures are always my guide and framework. What comes to mind at this Chapter – Jesus proclaimed: I came that you would have life and have it to the full. I came that my own joy may be in you, so that your joy may be complete. In living the Gospel life, Jesus shows us how to allow the “breakdowns” in our life to be “breakthroughs” to something more. In this time in our Province history, this is also one of those moments when Jesus says: Launch out into the deep, do not be afraid, I am with you. I think this experience of moving toward the new province is beautifully expressed by the anthropologist Joseph Campbell: We must let go of the life we have planned, so we can receive the one that is waiting for us. I took a sabbatical, visiting some of the US-6 provinces, spending time and praying with the fraternities and getting to know them. I find this very life-giving and I would like to suggest to the administration of the new province to provide a stipend and an extra week of vacation to every friar so that they can visit and get to know new brothers in another part of the country.
Steven Kuehn, OFM
St. Bonaventure University … Allegany, New York
I have heard some brothers use the word “bittersweet” to describe this final Chapter. And I guess I could say the same thing. We have something special at Holy Name Province. You can feel it at this gathering. Many of the friars I look up to are in this room. How do we keep what we have in Holy Name, but move forward and create the new province? The friars in this room are passionate about their ministries, their relationships in fraternity, and the way they live their life. That inspires me – and that’s what I will take to the new province.
Erick Lopez, OFM
Old Mission Santa Barbara … California
I was almost in tears when I arrived – seeing all the brothers together for the first time in more than five years. Everyone was loud, talking and laughing. There was great spirit, and kindness and welcome. It was a beautiful scene. This was supposed to be a funeral – our final Chapter – but it doesn’t feel that way. Most of us were formed in Holy Name Province, but the new generation is formed interprovincially. There is something to be said about HNP and its history – we are grateful for what we have and what we have accomplished. There are a lot of things we did not do right, but for the most part, people want to smell like the Franciscans! We have been human, kind and approachable. We feel the same emotions and face the same problems as everyone else. We have shown people kindness and compassion, rather than judgment. The goodness and kindness of the friars, especially those who have helped form me in the Franciscan tradition – have been there for me. I have not been by myself. I have a fraternity backing me up. It’s the Franciscan spirit that keeps us together, no matter what province we belong to.
Richard McFeely, OFM
St. Francis of Assisi Parish … New York City
It’s bittersweet because we are nearing the end of Holy Name Province. There’s uncertainty about how things will turn out with the new province. In one of the breakout groups, we talked about the challenge of different cultures – not ethnic cultures, but the culture of the individual provinces, the way they work and the way things are done, for example, in the northeast compared to the southwest. But this has been a wonderful time catching up with everyone because a lot of us haven’t seen each other since before COVID.
William McIntrye, OFM
St. Peter Claver Parish … Macon, Georgia
The unification process of the US-6 began years ago, but it seems more real as we get closer – and certainly at this, the Province’s final Chapter. I came here, honestly, feeling sad. We have this beautiful campus as a backdrop, but I remember the friars who were at past chapters and are no longer with us. It has been great getting together in person – even though some of us look a little older! Gatherings like this offer moments of hopefulness. And I think those moments have come during our collective sharing. Everyone is doing such beautiful, meaningful and exciting things. This has been a moment for me to think about the friars I have met along the way, and the friars who came before me – how we have all been a part of this. The Province may be ending, but we will bring with us our memories and continue doing what we do as friars in the new province.
Russel Murray, OFM
Holy Name College … Washington, D.C.
Jim Sabak’s presentation captured where I am at with the process of the US-6 provinces uniting as one. It’s a journey of hope into the future – and it’s a future that we will make under the guidance of the Holy Spirit with the grace of God. We make use of analytic tools of our world, but it must be our faith response to the call of God that makes our decision. The Spirit has guided the brothers to come together as a single province. It’s a journey of faith. There is some bitterness in the sweetness of this Chapter because this is the last time we will be together in this setting. Here, we know everyone’s name, we know the stories. When we depart from Siena on Friday, it’s over. But we will carry the collective past. In funeral liturgy, life changes; it doesn’t end. Fr. Kevin (Mullen) alluded to this as transitus – as St. Francis moved from this way of life to heaven. There is a good-bye and sadness, and there is joy as we move into a new future with faith. If we are not going to make this journey as men of faith, then we should just all go home. We can take the memories with us – and there truly are many. Mine are the moments spent with the brothers of our Province, sharing life with them. Juniper Capece, trained as a tailor, for more than half a century making the habits we wear – he was a repository of stories at the breakfast table. Peter Sheridan, who I took to his doctor visits – and at 95, there were a lot – who taught me what it meant to care for an elder brother in a very fraternal way. The generosity of our province – the missionaries around the world and the ministries that provide support and care for all who need it – these are the memories we take with us – and that we will use to create new ones.
Steven Patti, OFM
St. Francis of Assisi Parish … New York City
As friars, we don’t get to see each other because we are scattered all over the East Coast. It has been good to be together. We have had chapters at Siena before, but this one has a feel of finality. It has been a sense of – okay, we are moving toward a whole different kind of future. There’s a sense of loss, but we will go on and our past will always be with us.

Francis Pompei, OFM
Liverpool, New York
Our experiences are our own. But at this Chapter, we are all experiencing the Holy Spirit and the Franciscan charism. This experience and the depth of this brotherhood is what revives me and confirms that I am part of something that is greater than me, greater than all of us together as friars. We are not only sons of God, but sons of our father Francis. It tells me who I am, what I am, and where I am going. And it just doesn’t end here. I was a diocesan priest for eight years. I was alone and burning out, in conflict with my priesthood. The Franciscans saved me. Holy Name Province saved me. The friars who mentored me, the friars who taught me that I am not alone because they are my brothers – they saved me.
Andrew Reitz, OFM
St. Francis of Assisi Parish … Long Beach Island, New Jersey
It’s important that we are prepared as much as possible for the transition to the new province. We may feel alone, but we aren’t alone. There may be doubts and anxiety, but when we gather together, we help each other get through this. My fondest memories of Holy Name Province will be the celebrations – the professions of simple and solemn vows, the jubilee anniversaries, the chapters, all of the things that we did as a Province and fraternity. These are important gatherings – seeing men that I had as students when I was working in formation ministry for 12 years, and how they have developed into the Order’s future leaders. Chapters enable us to see how each of us is doing and how we can be supportive of our ministries. Supporting each other during this time of change is very important.
Aaron Richardson, OFM
Ss. Columba-Brigid Parish … Buffalo, New York
Just being together at Chapter is really powerful – the liturgy, singing together, being in the chapel. I am humbled and inspired by the guys all around me. I am inspired to be holy the way they are holy. When I entered the Order with Holy Name Province, the unification of the six provinces was already in the works. I was in novitiate with men from other provinces. They told us to make sure we all meet and get to know each other. It was a piece of wisdom that stuck with me – especially now, as we are going to be incorporated into one province with other brothers around the country. But the relationships we developed in Holy Name Province will help us navigate through the rough patches.
Joe Rozansky, OFM
St. Joseph Friary … Chicago, Illinois
I have been working with other provinces for years in interprovincial formation, so for me, the unification process is just another step in that direction. Everything we have been doing has been pointing us to the direction of the new province – and, hopefully, the Chapter is helping us continue the reflection that is needed. For me, the Chapter has reminded me of the spirit we have had as a Province – the commitment to working together. That goes through all aspects of who we are and what we do. This will continue in the new province – and the friars from the other provinces will do the same. We just need to figure out how to do this together as brothers.
Roberto (Tito) Serrano, OFM
Siena College … Loudonville, New York
Chapter has been a very important time for us. We have plenty of space to socialize, reflect, and recognize our Province history as we are moving into something new. It’s an important and healthy step as a community to acknowledge what we are leaving behind. It is great to be here – to be a brother and to celebrate with my brothers and engage in this fraternal relationship.

Dennis Tamburello, OFM
Siena College … Loudonville, New York
This has been a fitting way to bring an end to our Province – a lot of sharing, laughs, reminiscing, and prayer. It has been a fantastic experience for me and I am so glad to be a part of it. But it has also been a bittersweet experience, knowing that this is the last time we will be meeting as Holy Name Province. One of my greatest memories will be these chapters because I have always relished the time spent together as brothers. This final chapter will have a special place in my heart, being with all the guys and talking to brothers I would not normally see. My other fond memory of the Province is that I have always felt at home in all of our friaries and with all brothers – and I believe this will continue in the new province. There might be a sense of loss, but a positive experience will come from this – in particular, the new friendships and relationships with the new brothers we are gaining in the new province.
Sebastian Tobin, OFM
St. Anthony Shrine … Boston, Massachusetts
There is some sadness because we are saying good-bye to the Province I have been with for 62 years. Holy Name Province gave me so many opportunities. I have been able to share my devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe. The friars pray to her every evening for new vocations. I am also excited about the future. With the new province consisting of friars from all over the country, I hope to find a friar who will make our sandals! (Sebastian has been the Province’s full-time sandal-maker for nearly five decades and is still active in his ministry as a leather artisan. Despite living in retirement, he can be found at the workbench of the often cluttered leather shop at the Shrine friary, handcrafting sandals, belts and other leather goods for the friar community.)
Richard Trezza, OFM
St. Anthony Friary … Butler, New Jersey
Some of us were joking that this would be a weeklong wake, but it is turning out to be anything but that. Actually, it has been the complete opposite. It is very fraternal, seeing guys you really don’t get to be with that often. It’s been good to review some of the achievements and things that we take for granted. The Province has housed us, fed us, gave us brothers. The reality is, the Province is always in a state of change. There’s always movement. Some of it is subtle. In this next transition, things won’t be so different. What I will take back with me from this final Chapter is hope.