It’s Your Birthday! 25 Friars Celebrate Birthdays This Month – Including 6 with Milestones

HNP Communications HNPNow

More than two dozen friars celebrate their birthdays in the month of August, with six of them marking a milestone birthday this year.

Best wishes and blessings to friars celebrating their birthdays in the month of August: Francis Pompei, OFM (Aug. 1); Thomas Donovan, OFM (Aug. 2); Jacques LaPointe, OFM (Aug. 6); Michael Blastic, OFM (Aug.6); Christopher Keenan, OFM (Aug. 7); Stephen Kluge, OFM (Aug. 7); Thomas Murphy, OFM (Aug. 8); Basil Valente, OFM (Aug. 11); Scott Brookbank, OFM (Aug. 11); Paul Keenan, OFM (Aug. 11); Tyler Grudi, OFM (Aug. 12); Paul Santoro, OFM (Aug. 14); Timothy Dauenhauer, OFM (Aug. 16); William Beaudin, OFM (Aug. 17); Lawrence Ford, OFM (Aug. 18); James Scullion, OFM (Aug. 18); Kenneth Paulli, OFM (Aug. 21); Timothy Miskowski, OFM (Aug. 21); David Hyman, OFM (Aug. 22); Francis Critch, OFM (Aug. 22); Lawrence Hayes, OFM (Aug. 24); Jerome Massimino, OFM (Aug. 24); John Hogan, OFM (Aug. 26); Cidouane Joseph, OFM (Aug. 29), and Richard Mucowski, OFM (Aug. 30).

HNP pays tribute to each of the six friars celebrating a milestone birthday with a brief glimpse into how they got there.

Timothy Dauenhauer, OFM, 90

Back in 2011, an article in HNP Today featuring Timothy for his 50th anniversary of profession as a friar, called him a “brother” in every sense of the word. Through the Big Brothers of America and Boys Club programs, Timothy was a brother and friend to underprivileged and fatherless children for more than four decades. He was in the program for so long that he was a big brother to the children of parents who were in the program when they were young! His passion for counseling young people about life choices and growing their faith led to the construction of a teen center when he was stationed at St. Patrick Church in Buffalo, New York. Timothy used his woodworking skills to carve life-size cartoon characters for the center and local Boys Club. Visits from children he mentored throughout the years has been the norm wherever he has lived. Timothy had often used his own resources for things such as helping young people attend trade schools, study for vocations, or even obtain a driver’s license – anything to give them an edge at succeeding. In the article, Timothy said for every success story, there were many heartbreaks, with some youngsters committing crimes that led to incarceration. “You can’t save them all, but I tried to show them the example they should live by; some turned to God, some turned away,” he said. Even in semi-retirement, he took children and their families to dinner, still trying to be the example of the love and compassion that Jesus and St. Francis always showed the marginalized. Although he didn’t embrace the call to religious life until he was 25 years old, he remembered a priest telling him when he was just a teenager that he should consider vocation. It was a gentle nudge – a style he developed when mentoring children and families, never pushing God or religion on them. But like the priest who subtly put discernment in his mind, he has done the same for so many youngsters, putting them on the path to vocations, careers, and a life of faith. Timothy currently lives in-residence at Ss. Columba-Brigid Friary in Buffalo, New York. Happy 90th!

David Hyman, OFM, 90

David is exactly where he wants to be for his 90th birthday – at home at his beloved St. Francis Springs Prayer Center in Stoneville, North Carolina, where he has been stationed since 2014 as a sacramental minister. The beautiful campus, just 12 miles from the Virginia state line, has overnight accommodations for 40 guests with amenities such as a garden, meditation room, outdoor and indoor chapels – and a comprehensive learning space and library-like environment that houses a treasure trove of 1,100 African American books gifted to the Center by David. He had decided to take the books out of storage and donate his life’s work so that others have the opportunity to learn, grow and develop a deeper understanding of the rich history and culture of African Americans. The collection has been part of the Center’s creation of programming that focuses on social justice, with three shelves lined with books just on African American religion. Throughout his friar life, which has included high school teacher, religious formator, parish pastor, prison chaplain, and campus minister, David collected as many books as he could about Black Catholics and African American history during his travels and wherever he was stationed in ministry. His interest in African American culture began when he was assigned to campus ministry at Tennessee University in the 1970s and continued during his assignments in the South, where he served as associate campus minister for the Catholic Center at the University of Georgia, Athens, and in pastoral ministry at parishes in North and South Carolina. In 2010, when he was celebrating his 50th anniversary of ordination, David – who also has served on the provincial council – was honored at the Catholic Center for his decades of service, compassion, and welcome to everyone whose lives he has touched. Happy 90th!

Christopher Keenan, OFM, 80

Although he held one of the Province’s most high-profile ministry assignments, whenever Christopher was interviewed and asked to talk about what it was like to be chaplain of the largest fire department in the country, he always shifted the focus on the members of the FDNY – the heroes who run toward danger when everyone else is running away. Humility has followed Christopher throughout his friar life, which has included service at parishes and graduate schools of theology, hospital chaplaincy, campus ministry, provincial leadership roles, and, of course, nearly two decades as chaplain of the New York City Fire Department, succeeding his close friend Mychal Judge, OFM, who perished in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center. Christopher, who lives at St. Anthony Friary in Butler, New Jersey, has always viewed himself as a bridge, connecting others with the resources they need to better connect with God. He has done just that. Although he is widely known as the fire department friar, sharing a special brotherhood with another fraternity, he has served in ministry with many HNP programs, including a New York City shelter for homeless 18-to-25-year-old men, a Harlem food pantry, the St. Francis Breadline, Franciscan Delivers, Franciscan Volunteer Ministry, and the Life Experience Faith Sharing Associates initiative – where he participated in monthly leadership study days for homeless persons. His humility and service has encouraged hundreds, if not thousands of people to become HNP partners-in-ministry. This has never been more evident when he was living with the friar fraternity at the College of Mount Saint Vincent in the Bronx. Every semester, he helped to rally 1,000 students to volunteer more than 4,000 hours of service work at 200 ministries, many of them at HNP sites like St. Francis Inn in Philadelphia. He also tapped into his firefighter brethren, encouraging them to mentor young homeless men at the CREATE Young Adult Center. To a friar who has answered the call from the day the Holy Spirit lit the flame of religious vocation, Happy 80th!

John Hogan, OFM, 75

John could have joined, and eventually run, his father’s enormously successful graphic design firm, whose clients included Cornell University, IBM, a major retail footwear manufacturer, and other big-name corporations. Or he could’ve pursued his own dream of becoming a pharmacist or language teacher. All of those possibilities went up in smoke in his freshman year at St. Bonaventure University. He met the Franciscan friars. Everything became crystal-clear – from the books he read about St. Francis, the stories of friars and their own journey, and their down-to-earth, holy nature made him realize that Franciscan vocation was what he wanted. Retreat, formation and vocation ministry have been central to his 53 years as a friar, during which he served in pre-novitiate formation mentoring postulants, Province vocation director, retreat coordinator, and spiritual companion at ministries that included the Shrine on Arch Street in Boston, St. Francis Retreat Center in New Hampshire, and Holy Cross Friary in the Bronx. John, who claims to be in semi-retirement – but wait until you read what he perceives semi-retirement to be – is vicar and guardian at St. Anthony Friary in St. Petersburg, Florida, where he also assists at local parishes, gives spiritual talks to Secular Franciscans, and provides transportation to less-mobile friars to doctor appointments, the barbershop and pharmacy. And he has not retired from formation ministry, serving as a Florida regional director under Province vocation director Basil Valente, OFM, who, ironically, was mentored by John when he was discerning Franciscan life. In a recently published interview about vocations, John said it is important for friars to engage in vocation ministry because it provides the opportunity for discerning men to get a sense of the life of fraternity and service – just as he did in his first encounters with the friars at SBU. Happy 75th!

Francis Pompei, OFM, 75

When Francis published his book, The Most Important Book You Will Ever Read, he made it a point to list his co-author’s name first. The cover reads: by Jesus of Nazareth & (in smaller print) Fr. Francis Pompei, OFM. In the “about the author” paragraph, it says he’s a Franciscan friar with Holy Name Province. “That’s all you need to know about [me],” he says, because everything in the book, released in 2019, was revealed to him by Jesus. That‘s why, as the title indicates, this is the most important book you will ever read, says Francis, because Jesus (not he) is personally giving you not only the answers to your questions about life, suffering and death, but is teaching you what to do about them and how to go about doing it – Jesus, “right there with you as your teacher and friend, journeying with you, transforming you and setting you free.” Francis, who currently lives in Liverpool, New York, caring for a loved one, was a diocesan priest before switching to the Order of Friars Minor – a move prompted by his desire for the flexibility to work with the poor, and preach and teach the Gospel of his co-author. Francis once said in an interview with HNP Today that as a diocesan priest, identity comes from ministry. But as a Franciscan friar, identity comes from community and fraternity. Throughout his friar life, Francis has served in itinerant ministry, traveling 15,000 to 20,000 miles a year, giving retreats and preaching missions coast to coast. He started a unique ministry called Franciscan Mystery Players, an initiative in which teens presented a living dramatic meditation at churches around the country – for which Francis wrote, directed and produced the plays for the dozen groups operating in the U.S. Francis has always singled out the hallmark of the Province – the support and encouragement it provides to all friars, listening to them and allowing everyone to see how the Lord is working and where and what the Spirit is leading us to do – just as he let Jesus of Nazareth guide his hand when he wrote that most important book you will ever read. Happy 75th!

Jacques LaPointe, OFM, 70

Jacques may have been a late bloomer, entering the Province at age 37, but this friar, who enjoys both U.S. and Canadian citizenship, was living the Franciscan charism of caring for the poor when he was a youngster growing up in New Brunswick, Canada, across from its twin American town of Van Buren, Maine. He would accompany his father on a weekly mission – delivering free groceries from the local store owned by his paternal grandfather to poor families who couldn’t afford to put food on their tables. His first employment was with the World University Service in Ottawa, where he unwittingly continued on a Franciscan path, focusing on cultural and human rights projects. Like young Samuel in 1 Samuel 3:4, Jacques just didn’t know yet that Franciscan vocation was calling – that is, until the picture became clearer after surviving a health scare. During his 30 years as a friar, his ministries have been powerful, but sometimes unsettling. In 1999, his ministry in Japan was cut short, forced to leave the country when Japanese organized crime figures put a contract on his life as retaliation for his success in getting Japanese lawmakers to sign legislation that made the production of child pornography illegal in Japan. Closer to home, he helped establish the francophone Catholic community at the multicultural Parish of St. Camillus in Silver Spring, Maryland. About 12 years ago, Jacques returned to his roots to become administrator of a consolidated ministry of five parishes in the St. John River Valley before being assigned to St. Anthony Shrine in Boston, Massachusetts. Jacques, who resides at the Center Diocesain in Edmundston, New Brunswick, Canada, once said he was grateful for the support of the Province for allowing him to pursue these many God-filled ministries – even when they weren’t always understood. “That’s what makes Holy Name Province and the Franciscans so special and unique,” he said in an article about his 25th anniversary of profession. But it is Jacques and the zeal with which he has lived his Franciscan vocation that makes the Province so special and unique. Happy 70th!

Although his birthday is not a milestone year, any birthday as a nonagenarian is a milestone; therefore, the next edition of HNP NOW (scheduled for Aug. 31) will feature Thomas Murphy, OFM, who celebrated the big 9-3 on Aug. 8.