As part of the formation process, prior to his solemn profession of vows, each Holy Name friar completes a yearlong internship, immersed in a Province ministry. This is the fifth in a series of profiles of student friars currently in their internship year.
BOSTON — Mario Gomez-Tejerina, OFM, laughs when he looks back on his year at St. Anthony Shrine. “It included everything from unloading trucks (5,000 to 8,000 pounds a week) to knitting and crocheting with a group of senior citizens.”
With a vibrant ministry consisting of dozens of programs, life is anything but boring at the busy urban shrine. “One thing this place promises,” said Mario, “is that you will never get bored. However, one thing is also required: willingness to work hard.”
In between unloading trucks and participating in crafts, Mario has been involved with many of the shrine’s programs. They included Hispanic Ministry, 20/30s Boston (young adult group), prison ministry (especially ministering with/to illegal immigrants), Lazarus Ministry (providing funerals for the lonely and the poor), Seniors on Arch Street, KIDS program, Bread on the Common (companionship ministry for the homeless), preaching, and working the computer lab.
He also picks up the money left at the collection boxes at the altars and shrines and, with Charles Finnegan, OFM, bakes bread for fundraising events and for fun. Gene Pistacchio, OFM, served as his supervisor.
The Peruvian-born friar has spent the past year at the shrine and said he has enjoyed it thoroughly. He will continue to minister there for two more years even though his internship officially ended on June 1. In the fall, Mario will attend Boston College to pursue a master’s degree in pastoral ministry.
“I enjoyed every minute of my internship here. I can surely say that I have a very valuable experience under my belt now,” he said. “This was truly a hands-on experience that all Franciscan students should have. As friars, we go into the world and, therefore, we need to learn how to be in it, relate to it, and embrace it along with its blessedness and brokenness.”
He added: “My experience at the shrine can only be described as a whole. Each part — spiritual, fraternal and ministerial — was equally important. Being a friar is a lifestyle, not an event. So with our internships, they are not an isolated part of our formation but rather a very concrete way to put all our ‘knowledge’ into practice, growing in faith and wisdom.”
He looks forward to traveling to Assisi for the month of July for a solemn profession retreat with his classmates, and to visiting with his family in Peru.
With the end of his internship year, Mario didn’t predict that his life would change substantially. “I personally believe my life externally will not change, as I have been living the vows for some time now. Spiritually, however, it means the ultimate commitment to a life of service, fraternity, and itinerancy.”
Although Mario was a member of a personal prelature for six years, where he received religious formation, ministered to college students and discerned his vocation to religious life, he first became acquainted with the friars during a 2004 trip to visit his sister in New Jersey. “The open-mindedness and accepting frame of mind of the Franciscans struck me from day one. I found a group of men that I perceived as a community in which the values of fraternity among its members and service to and solidarity with the poor were cherished.”
That combination of fraternity and fellowship is as important to him today as it was when he professed his first vows in 2008.
“The most enjoyable time at the shrine was ministering with friars, lay staff, lay ministers and all the people who come to the shrine. We live in the heart of ‘the hub,’ so each day is open to the unexpected and the unusual. It is delightfully unique.”
— Wendy Healy, a Connecticut-based freelance writer, is a frequent contributor to HNP Today.