NEW YORK — Twelve friars, led by F. Edward Coughlin, OFM, and Thomas Hartle, OFM, traveled to Italy last month for the last of four province-sponsored pilgrimages to further ongoing formation.
After arriving in Rome on May 21, the group began their 10-day pilgrimage with stops in Greccio, La Verna, Bagnoregio and in Assisi to see the Porziuncula and the basilicas of St. Clare and St. Francis. The friars also met with General Minister Fr. Jose Rodriguez Carballo, OFM, and Joseph Rozansky, OFM, of the Order’s Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Office.
“The journey, the adventure, the pilgrimage of visiting Franciscan shrines and churches important in the life of Francis and Clare of Assisi opened our imaginations and stirred our senses as we encountered those places that gave form and shape to the life of Francis and Clare,” Thomas said.
Those participating were Brian Cullinane, OFM, of Wood-Ridge, N.J.; Octavio Duran, OFM, of East Rutherford, N.J.; Francis McHugh, OFM, of Boston; Emmet Murphy, OFM, of Raleigh, N.C.; John Rudy, OFM, of Hartford, Conn.; Peter Schneible, OFM, of Allegany, N.Y.; Stephen Mimnaugh, OFM, Matthew Pravetz, OFM, Alan Thomas, OFM, and Kevin Tortorelli, OFM, of New York.
Brian said he felt “very fortunate” to be a part of the final pilgrimage. “I had been to Italy before, but to be with two ‘experts’ in Franciscanism and to listen to their insight was great. To be traveling with 11 other friars and to get to know each of them was very special.”
He added that meal times were an opportunity to better get to know friars with whom he had never lived. “All in all, it was perfect.”
Peter, who commemorated 25 years as a friar in 2009, felt encouraged to go on the pilgrimage upon the advice from last year’s General Chapter. He said it was hard to choose just one moment that impacted him most, but, that “the procession in La Verna from the main church to the chapel of the stigmata was very meaningful for me. It was uplifting to contribute to the spirituality of this sacred Franciscan location, if only for one day. I felt connected to the universal OFM brotherhood in a way I felt at no other time in our pilgrimage.”
He added, “Sharing the experiences with other friars — some of whom I knew well and some of whom I hardly knew at all — made all of the experiences better. I feel renewed, and — in a real sense — I feel some of the enthusiasm from my days in formation.” Peter said one of the friars described him as “glowing” upon his return.
“I am sure that God has strengthened me for all that I am called to do in the future,” he said.
Thomas said, “Through prayer and shared reflections, the riches of our Franciscan tradition were pondered and explored. We returned enlivened with the spirit of Francis and grateful for our Franciscan charism.”
The group photo above shows, from left to right, John, Alan, Francis, Stephen, Peter, Joseph, Emmet, Fr. Jose, Kevin, Matthew, Ed, Thomas and Brian.