Guardians’ Meeting Focuses on Fraternal Life

Jocelyn Thomas Friar News

Guardians meeting 2014

The Province’s guardians gathered at the Carnevale Center in Pompton Lakes, N.J., for their annual meeting.

POMPTON LAKES, N.J. — Fraternity and wellness were key issues discussed last week by nearly three dozen friars representing the Provincial houses during the annual guardians’ meeting. The participants, from friaries located from New England to Florida, spent Sept. 16 and 17 talking about their lives — as individuals and as leaders of communities.

“The meeting confirmed what I have always believed,” said Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen, OFM. “Guardians are crucial in the overall health of the Province and the friars. Their role is valued and necessary,” he emphasized. “Franciscan fraternity is a place for human flourishing.”

To spend time with their brothers, the guardians utilized HNP ministry facilities. They met in the Carnevale Center of St. Mary’s Parish, ate a meal at St. Anthony of Padua Friary in nearby Butler, and held prayer services at two HNP churches: St. Anthony’s in Butler and St. Mary’s.

The participants also visited with friars stationed in North Jersey, who were invited to the Tuesday dinner at the Butler friary.

“The facility where we met was fantastic,” said Kevin, who was elected in June. “The setting worked effectively and friars said it was a comfortable venue. The initial feedback that we have received tells us the guardians liked the meeting’s schedule and format.

“Friars found North Jersey an easy place to get to,” he continued. A formal evaluation has been sent to the guardians to gather their reactions to the meeting.

The guardians’ meeting took place earlier than in previous years as a way to continue conversations that arose during the 2014 Provincial Chapter, according to Kevin.

The Council tried to “keep the spirit of the chapter alive and also to follow up on some of the chapter mandates, particularly strengthening fraternal life,” said Kevin in a recent update. The Council hoped that, through the gathering, the guardians would “establish trust among themselves and the Provincial Administration, a feeling they will be able to convey back to the communities they serve.”

“The administration went into the meeting knowing that the guardians are the people on our frontlines,” Kevin said. “The guardians seemed to welcome the support that was provided.”

Convertino Mullen guardians meeting 2014

Kevin Mullen listens as David Convertino gives a presentation on caring for friars’ wellbeing.

Presentation Themes
The agenda included presentations and discussions on a variety of topics aimed at two aspects of friar life — brotherhood and serving as ministers/servants. The meeting began with a welcome from Kevin and Provincial Vicar Lawrence Hayes, OFM, who said “this is a time to catch up and to share humanly how we are.”

The first presentation, “Role of the Guardian,” featured a talk by Councilor William Beaudin, OFM. He described Franciscan leadership by encouraging friars to share qualities they believe make effective leaders and by emphasizing that genuine leadership is based on authority, not power. He shared a definition of leadership from the book The Servant: A Simple Story About the True Essence of Leadership by James Hunter. Hunter claims leadership is “the skill of influencing people to work enthusiastically toward a goal for the common good.”

The second segment on fraternal life issues — eldercare and general health challenges — was divided into two parts and described new resources for the guardians. This session was led by Councilor David Convertino, OFM, the contact for guardians with concerns about the emotional well-being of their friars, and by Councilor Robert Frazzetta, OFM, and Richard McFeely, OFM, who are resources to guardians challenged with how to best help friars experiencing physical changes. Robert is guardian of St. Anthony Friary in Butler, and Richard is guardian of Holy Name Friary in Ringwood, N.J.

An update about the HNP Vocation Office was presented by director Basil Valente, OFM, who told friars about recent inquiries, upcoming events and the administrative assistant position he is seeking to fill.

On the second day, the feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis of Assisi, presentations were given on finances, human resources and other administrative topics. They included a session by Provincial Treasurer Dennis Wilson, OFM, about the friar handbook, Making Sense.

That afternoon, the General Visitor’s final report and recommendations for the Province were discussed, along with the restructuring planned for the OFM provinces of the United States.

Hayes Orzechowski

Jacek Orzechowski, Lawrence Hayes and Anthony Wilson share a conversation during a break in the meeting.

Participant Reactions
The gathering comprised both new guardians as well as those with experience. The meeting pleased both the attendees and the organizers.

“It was great to share evening prayer, preprandium and dinner with the Butler fraternity, local friars and guardians,” said Lawrence, a former guardian of Duns Scotus Friary in Durham, N.C. “I found Bill’s presentation especially inspirational and practical. It gave good focus for leaders as we try to live out the chapter’s theme of being who we say we are.”

“The guardians’ meeting was a great chance to connect with guys and catch up, but it was also great to get a sense of others’ experience as guardian and what might be in store for me,” said Hugh Macsherry, OFM, recently-appointed as guardian of St. Anthony of Padua Friary, Camden, N.J.

“The personal sharing was great but so were the presentations,” he continued. “From the presentations, I took away the importance of relationships among the brothers, because that’s the basis for Franciscan life, in whatever way we exercise leadership or ministry.”

Robert Frazzetta, a newly elected councilor, said the meeting was “terrific because discussions focused on taking care of our own. We talked about how to take care of our hurting brothers. Because it was more personal than administrative, it was a valuable meeting.”

After the guardians’ meeting, the Provincial Councilors remained in New Jersey for their monthly meeting, held at the Ringwood friary. Their October meeting will be in Margate, N.J.

Both Robert and Richard said that the residents of the Butler and Ringwood friaries appreciated the visits of the guardians.

— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communication for Holy Name Province.