The five U.S. friars who are approved to make their solemn vows this year are shown at their month-long retreat. Left to right: Henry Djojo of St. Barbara Province, Jim Bernard, Aaron Richardson, Joshua Critchley of Immaculate Conception Province, Steve Kuehn. (Photo courtesy of Kevin Kriso)

HNP Formation Program Announces Transitions

Jocelyn Thomas Friar News, Home Page – News

As the spring season moved toward summer, the Province’s simply-professed friars have been in the midst of acclimating to new locations and – with eight recently beginning summer assignments and two starting 12-month internships, and others are preparing to spend nearly a year with Franciscan communities on the margins.

Jason Damon and James La Grutta will begin their year-long internships leading to their applying for solemn vows next year. (Photos from the Provincial archives)

Last month, Jason Damon, OFM, moved to Siena College in Loudonville, New York, and James La Grutta, OFM, to St. Anthony Shrine in Boston, Massachusetts, where they began serving in yearlong internships in anticipation of professing their solemn vows in 2022. Both friars, who made their first profession in 2018, had been living at St. Joseph Friary, the Interprovincial Post-Novitiate Formation House in Chicago, Illinois.

Summer Assignments
During the summer months, eight simply-professed friars are stationed at locations around the country – from the East Coast to the Northwest – living and working at parishes and ministry sites. All are students at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago with the exception of one, who studies in San Antonio, Texas. They are:

Edgar Alberto, OFM, is stationed in Philadelphia at St. Francis Inn soup kitchen from May 30 until Aug. 7.
John Neuffer, OFM, is in Fairbanks, Alaska, serving at a ministry operated by Sacred Heart Province, from June 5 to Aug. 15.
Richard Phillip, OFM, is stationed at St. Mary’s Parish in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey, from May 30 to Aug. 4.
Carlos Portillo, OFM, is serving at St. Francis Parish on Long Beach Island in New Jersey from May 30 to Aug. 8.
Luis Rosado, OFM, is stationed at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Butler, New Jersey, from May 16 to July 30.
Michael Specht, OFM, is in Macon, Georgia, from May 30 to July 30, working at Holy Spirit and St. Peter Claver parishes.
Carlos Wagner, OFM, is stationed at St. Francis of Assisi Parish on West 31st Street, New York City, from May 30 to Aug. 6.
Steven Young, OFM, is serving at St. Patrick-St. Anthony Parish in Hartford, Connecticut, from May 30 to Aug. 20.

“Our policy for ministry – summer, year-long internship, and ministry during the school year – – is that the simply-professed experience a range of ministries to help in their discernment for future ministerial possibilities,” said Joseph Rozansky, OFM, assistant director of the Franciscan Interprovincial Temporary Professed program in Chicago.

“Our house is interprovincial, and so are the possibilities for ministry,” he added. “This summer, one of the members of St. John the Baptist Province, Matt Ryan, is at the 31st Street parish for the summer, and a Holy Name friar is serving at a ministry of another province, Sacred Heart.”

Jim Bernard, Aaron Richardson, and Steve Kuehn are on retreat prior to making solemn vows in August. (Photos from the provincial archives)

Meanwhile, the three HNP friars who are scheduled to profess their solemn vows in August are spending several weeks on retreat at Mt. Irenaeus in Western New York. James Bernard, OFM, Steven Kuehn, OFM, and Aaron Richardson, OFM, who will be at The Mountain in West Clarksville through July 9, after arriving on June 13, recently completed their yearlong internships – Jim at St. Anthony Shrine in Boston, Steve at St. Bonaventure University in Allegany, New York, and Aaron at St. Francis Inn in Philadelphia.

Extended Programs
Another group of friars is preparing for an experience new to them and to the Franciscans – as they will participate in a program called Brothers Walking Together, which was conceived and organized by the six Franciscan provinces working to unify into a coast-to-coast entity. After they profess simple vows on July 2, eight friars will serve as part of this interprovincial program, through which they will spend nine months living and working in marginal communities.

Daniel Cruz, Tyler Grundi, Kevin Hamzik, and Jimmy Kernan will be participating in the Brothers Walking Together program. (Photos from the provincial archives)

The participating HNP friars are Daniel Cruz, OFM, and Tyler Grudi, OFM, who will be stationed in Negril, Jamaica; Kevin Hamzik, OFM, who will be working in Elfrida, Arizona, and Jimmy Kernan, OFM, who will be serving at St. Anthony Foundation in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco, California

Friars from St. Barbara and St. John the Baptist provinces will also be part of Brothers Walking Together. The program, created by the US-6 secretaries of formation and studies, is designed to enable friars to broaden their life experiences by living and working in cultures outside their areas of familiarity. It was recommended as a way to create a Franciscan lens through which newly-professed friars can see what their future Franciscan lives might be like.

Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.