Guardians Meet in Pennsylvania

Jocelyn Thomas In the Headlines

EASTON, Pa. — A review of the Province’s 2008 to 2013 Strategic Plan, as well as a sharing of common and concerns, were the focus of the Province’s 2010 guardians meeting.

More than 40 of the Province’s friary leaders gathered at St. Francis Retreat House in eastern Pennsylvania Oct. 19 to 21 to review the seven aspects of the HNP Strategic Plan. They also heard a presentation on fundraising that emphasized the need to modify the culture of the Province to one where members are continuously aware of the need for contributions.
“No longer can we rely on gifts from wills and from direct mail programs, as we did in the past,” said Joseph Hertel, OFM, director of St. Anthony’s Guild, the Province’s fundraising partner.
For the first time, the leaders of the Provincial friaries gathered at St. Francis Retreat House, run by St. John the Baptist Province, just 75 miles from New York and Philadelphia, after having met for many years in St. Petersburg, Fla., near the Province’s St. Anthony Friary.
This year’s meeting was shorter than previous guardians meetings since other friar gatherings are scheduled so close to this meeting, according to Provincial Secretary Michael Harlan, OFM. He referred to the fall fraternal gatherings and to the Provincial Chapter being held Jan. 3 to 7. Like past guardians meetings, this gathering included both business and social time.
The session began Tuesday with evening prayer prepared by John Mahon, OFM, of Butler, N.J., and a dinner.
Strategic Plan Assessment
On Wednesday, after morning prayer led by Thomas Gallagher, OFM, of Hartford, Conn., the guardians listened to presentations on seven aspects of the strategic plan, given mainly by members of the Provincial Council.
“It was important for the guardians to see what progress has been made on the strategic plan, preparation for Chapter 2011,” Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, said.
The presentations were:
Fraternity, led by Francis Di Spigno, OFM, of Silver Spring, Md.
Collaboration, by F. Edward Coughlin, OFM, of St. Bonaventure University, who also moderated the meeting
Mission, led by Daniel Dwyer, OFM, of Siena College, which included an update of programs of the HNP Office for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation
Finances by Thomas Conway, OFM, of Beach Haven, N.J. This featured a fundraising presentation by Joe Hertel, with representatives from a consulting firm hired by the Province to conduct the HNP Capital Campaign
Friar Skills and Development, led by Ed Coughlin, delivering information from Dominic Monti, OFM,cochair of the Province’s Leadership Development Committee, who was unable to travel to Pennsylvania for health reasons, and Frank Sevola, OFM 
Franciscan Identity, by Kevin Mullen, OFM, which included a presentation on communication initiatives such as social media, the Province’s website and an update on the new friar e-mail option
Vocation, given by Brian Smail, OFM, HNP vocation director, who reported some of his office’s accomplishments including website enhancements, newsletter, writing of vocation handbook and strategic plan
Some of the key ideas that emerged as discussion topics included:
Would merging Provincial directorates — perhaps Evangelization and Fraternal Life or Fraternal Life and Ministerial Development — provide more strength and productivity?
Is a mark of Holy Name Province still its collaboration with partners-in-ministry?
What are the benefits and the drawbacks to being financially transparent?
Is it more accurate to say “all friars have influence” instead of “all friars are leaders”?
Is there a need for a stronger Franciscan voice in the areas of immigration, peacemaking and climate change?
How do guardians use their Franciscan Life Plans to advance our Franciscan identity?
How can friars strengthen trust among each other?
What is the process for looking into new ministries?
guardians3Gratitude for Sharing and Trust
“I believe the guardians most appreciated the time together; it is always a very positive fraternal experience,” John said, adding, “I personally enjoy being with the friars and catching up on what is happening for their ministries and fraternities.”

The Province’s guardians traveled for their annual gathering from South America, New England and many locations in between. The meeting included 45 friars — 34 guardians, seven council members, as well as Fr. Fred Link, OFM, (General Visitor), Joseph Hertel, Brian Smail, and Raphael Bonanno, OFM, representing the Province’s Ministry of the Word. Several attendees said they appreciated the fraternal aspect of the gathering.
Ronald Pecci, OFM, guardian of St. Paul Friary in Wilmington, Del., said: “I was gladdened by how sincere and fraternal the discussions were. The more time we spend talking about our life together and our witness, the better we get at it; less defensive and more trusting. The days together provided a good model for substantive fraternal dialog.”

“I also liked the setting. The friars from SJB Province were very welcoming,” Ron said.

Frank, of Providence, R.I., said, “The best part of the guardians’ meeting for me is the fraternity. It is great to see friars who I don’t get to see very often. It is also a great opportunity to hear what is happening in other ministries and an excellent opportunity to draw on the considerable experience and wisdom that is gathered together at the meeting.”

The guardians meeting concluded on Thursday with Mass celebrated by John O’Connor, who told the friars in the morning’s closing session, “I appreciate all that you do. We’re doing great things.”
 Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province. She reminds friars that documents about the topics discussed at the guardians meeting are available on the HNP Extranet.