Friars Visit Order’s Roots

Rebecca Doel Features

NEW YORK — As a continuing effort of ongoing formation, seven Holy Name Province friars, led by F. Edward Coughlin, OFM, and Thomas Hartle, OFM, traveled to Italy this spring for a 10-day pilgrimage to Rome, Greccio, Assisi, La Verna and Bagnoregio.

The latest in a series of HNP pilgrimages of renewal took place May 21 to June 1. It included visits to San Damiano, the basilicas of St. Clare and St. Francis, and a full-day trip to La Verna, the mountain on which Francis received the stigmata. While the pilgrimage included time at these sacred historical places, the input, reflections and discussions focused on each person’s individual and fraternal spiritual journey.

While in Rome, the group met with Joseph Rozansky, OFM, of the Order’s Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Office. They were also able to talk with General Minister José Rodríguez Carballo, OFM, before he left for the General Chapter in Assisi. Kyle Haden, OFM, who was vacationing in Rome, joined the group for a day.

In La Verna, the friars had a visit from Laura Pietrobattista of Magliano, Italy, who had been in touch with Ed. She is a decendant of the friar who founded St. Bonaventure University, Fr. Pamphilo da Magliano, OFM.

Reflections on the Trip
Like many friars, J. Patrick Kelly, OFM, of New Jersey, had been to the major shrines of Assisi before, but participated in this trip, too. “When I saw that this was going to be the last ongoing formation pilgrimage — and realizing how much I really needed and wanted an introduction to this type of education — I decided to register.”

He added: “I had never visited La Verna, Greccio or Bagnoregio. I loved La Verna. The tranquility was deeply spiritual and moving for me. It was a place that helped me reflect on what the Lord had done for Francis via the Stigmata. It allowed Francis to feel the Love the Lord felt for each and all of us that allowed him to accept his dying on a cross, ultimately for our salvation.”

“Ed Coughlin’s nightly post-dinner presentations, and Tom Hartle’s spiritual reflections at daily Mass in each venue, were enough to clearly show us the Franciscan influence of Bonaventure’s and Scotus’ theological work, as well as insight into the artwork that we saw each day,” he said.

Patrick thought more friars should have taken advantage of the pilgrimage opportunity. “It certainly whetted my appetite for more knowledge of Bonaventure and Scotus,” he said. “It seems that today’s world is crying out for their perspectives and insights into the Godhead and meaning of Jesus’ birth.”

He concluded, “The pilgrimage was, in a word, a blessing.”

For Sean O’Brien, OFM, of Sacred Heart Parish in Tampa, Fla., this was his first trip to Italy with his brother friars. “It was a good spiritual walk to journey with my brothers to the place of our origins and reconnect with the roots of our brother Francis and the Order,” he said. “The stories, the laughter and the fraternal camaraderie were among the great hallmarks of our trip.”

Sean also complimented the Bambanie Sisters of San Andre for being “wonderful hosts who added much to our fun and laughter.”

pilgrimageFraternity and Insights  
One of the highlights for Jerome Massimino, OFM, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Manhattan, was being able to have dinner with Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, while he attended the General Chapter. Jerome said, “There was a lot of good energy to have dinner with our own Provincial Minister in Assisi.”

He expressed gratitude to the Province for the opportunity to learn about the traditions of the Order of Friars Minor with other HNP friars. He said, “Vincent Laviano, OFM, who is fluent in Italian and knows Rome very well, thrived.”

The friars complimented the excellent leadership of Edward and Thomas. Sean said, “They provided wonderful opportunities for reflection on our friar life, especially within the context of rich Franciscan tradition.”

Jerome echoed his sentiments. “The combination of leadership of Ed and Tom was extraordinary. They complimented each other with style, humor and fraternal life.”

In addition to Ed, Tom, Patrick, Sean and Jerome, participating friars included: Gonzalo Torres, OFM, of Holy Name of Jesus Church in New York; Paul Sinnema, OFM, of Assumption Church in Wood-Ridge, N.J.; and Michael Carnevale, OFM, and Vincent of St. Francis of Assisi.

— Rebecca Doel is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.