Each year, Franciscans around the world are called to renew their vows in April, commemorating the moment when Pope Innocent III approved St. Francis’s Rule, or way of life. This time is a special period of discernment for the student friars, who must ask themselves whether they continue to feel called to Franciscan life.
George Camacho, OFM, who hopes to profess solemn vows this summer, renewed his vows alongside the community on April 13 at St. Bernardine of Siena Friary at Siena College, where he has been serving his internship year. Guardian Mark Reamer, OFM, received his vows.
“The reading from the Rule of 1223 is a powerful reminder of the legacy that St. Francis of Assisi initiated,” said George. “We friars are to see Francis and his successors as prime models for living the Gospel life in fraternity.”
Renewal of Vows
As a student friar, George has “consistently appreciated the opportunity to periodically reflect on my formation experience thus far, and to mindfully consider if God is calling me to continue on the journey toward solemn profession.”
Two things made this year’s renewal of vows unique for George. One was the setting — St. Bernardine Friary instead of Holy Name College in Silver Spring, Md., the Province’s house of studies “I am grateful that the friars here at Siena have embraced me as part of their community,” he remarked. “They even agreed to renew their own vows alongside me.”
George also noted that his solemn profession is only a few months away. “At that point, I, along with my brothers John Aherne, OFM, and Edgardo Jara, OFM, formally make a lifelong commitment to the Franciscan way of life,” said George. “Ultimately, the future continues to be in God’s hands.”
Approximately 170 miles away in Boston, the friars of St. Anthony Shrine on Arch Street celebrated the renewal of the simple vows of John in “a beautiful ceremony” during morning prayer on April 12. Daniel Murray, OFM, received John’s vows, while John Hogan, OFM, guardian, and John Maganzini, OFM, vicar, served as witnesses. Richard Flaherty, OFM, vicar, led morning prayer and Anthony LoGalbo, OFM, John’s former guardian in Silver Spring, served as reader. Joseph Quinn, OFM, and Gene Pistacchio, OFM, provided music.
“The Arch Street community has been blessed this past year having John as a member of our community and an active minister here at St. Anthony Shrine,” said Daniel. “Congratulations, John!”
Further south, Jacek Orzechowski, OFM, guardian of St. Camillus Friary, received the renewal of Edgardo’s vows on April 13 in Silver Spring, Md. Also renewing his vows on April 13 was Ramón Razón, OFM, who renewed his vows and was installed as acolyte during evening prayer at St. Francis Friary in New York City. Xavier Seubert, OFM, guardian, received his vows.
At Holy Name College, student friars Dennis Bennett, OFM, Casey Cole, OFM, Javier Del Angel De Los Santos, OFM, Abel Garcia, OFM, Abraham Joseph, OFM, and Christian Seno, OFM, renewed their vows. Joseph Rozansky, OFM, director of post-novitiate formation, received their vows. Abraham received the Minor Order of Lector, and Dennis and Casey received the Minor Order of Acolyte.
A Shared Witness to Franciscan Life
In New York City, the solemnly-professed friar community at Holy Name Parish on the Upper West Side renewed their vows in front of the congregation alongside six Franciscan Missionaries of Mary who also serve the parish. The renewal of vows took place during the evening Eucharist at which Lawrence Ford, OFM, pastor and guardian, presided.
“We have a very good working relationship with the Franciscan Missionary of Mary, so we thought to celebrate them together as a witness to our shared Franciscan life and commitment,” said Lawrence. “We tried to contextualize this in that vocation that come from baptism.”
Participating were Lawrence Hayes, OFM, Michael McDonnell, OFM, Matthew Pravetz, OFM, and Kevin Tortorelli, OFM, alongside Sr. Odile Coirier, FMM, Sr. Stella Jung, FMM, Sr. My Hoa Nguyen, FMM, Sr. Truyen Nguyen, FMM, and Sr. Mary Petrosky, FMM. Kevin and Matthew are both marking 50 years of religious life this year.
“Judging from their expressions of appreciation, the parish greeted and welcomed the occasion with enthusiasm and high spirits,” observed Kevin. “People sensed significance in Franciscan men and women together renewing vows of commitment to the Lord and in the service of His people. It gave flesh and blood to the ‘Franciscan thing’ that has been at work here for more than 25 years, something people sense, even if it is challenging to articulate.”
During the homily, Larry Ford emphasized that a vocation is about a relationship with the Church and with the people that one serves. “The message was simple, but people seemed to like it.”
Following the homily, the congregation stood and everyone renewed their baptismal vows. Then the sisters and friars came forward to renew their vows.
“Joining together, publicly renewing our vows as Franciscans, OFMs, and FMMs, we acknowledged that we are sisters and brothers in ministry together with deep Franciscan bonds. That is perfect joy!” said Sr. Mary on behalf of her community.
After the renewal of vows, the prayer of the faithful was offered and Michael and Sr. Odile Coirier, FMM, brought up the gifts.
“On the steps of the church after the Mass, there was a genuine happiness in the high fives and hugs and awareness that, as always, we celebrate something larger than ourselves,” said Kevin. “Matthew estimated that nearly 500 years of Franciscan life and ministry was present that evening.”
— Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.
- “Renewing my Religious Vows: Reflection on Vocation” — by Daniel Horan, OFM, April 27, 2011
- “Renewal of Vows” by Casey Cole, OFM, May 8, 2014