Jesus at the Heart of Province’s Lenten Programs

Maria Hayes Around the Province

A cross at Lent
God’s unconditional love and forgiveness, as witnessed through the sacrifice of his only son, are central to the season of Lent. As HNP ministries prepare for Easter, friars and their partners-in-ministries are offering varied ways to pray and to learn more about their faith.

The HNP Development Office is offering a new edition of “Lent In My Pocket,” a booklet of simple reflective prayers for each day of Lent. Each page includes an “action thought that brings someone or some ministry to our minds and hearts,” according to the office’s website. The booklet is free of charge and is available in hard copy and e-book format.

In a recent mailing from St. Anthony’s Guild and the Province’s Franciscan Missionary Union, a list of Triduum Meditations was provided as a way to prepare for the renewal promised by the Lord’s resurrection. “The Triduum is not part of Lent, at least liturgically, but Holy Thursday and Good Friday are still reckoned as part of the traditional 40 days of Lent,” said David Convertino, OFM, executive director of St. Anthony’s Guild. “The Triduum celebrates the heart of our faith and salvation: the death and resurrection of Christ, and is thus the high point of the liturgical year.”

Drawing Closer to Christ
Several of this year’s Lenten reflections are focused on the last words of Jesus and the places where he spent his ministry.

The Holy Land is often referred to as the Fifth Gospel because it is where Jesus walked, taught and performed miracles. Being there can help us better understand the written Word of God. Joseph Juracek, OFM, will share his recent experiences with the Fifth Gospel during a parish mission at St. Mary’s in Pompton Lakes, N.J. The event will take place from March 2 to 4 after the noon and 7:30 p.m. Masses.

In Boston, Daniel Horan, OFM, author of “The Last Words of Jesus: A Meditation on Love and Suffering,” will lead a Lenten talk on Feb. 26 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at St. Anthony Shrine. The presentation “will offer a fresh perspective to this time-honored meditation as Dan challenges us to look at our lives through the lens of Jesus’s suffering and death,” according to a description in the bulletin.

“The Seven Last Words of Christ” will also be explored at St. Patrick-St. Anthony Church in Hartford, Conn. Pastor Thomas Gallagher, OFM, will be one of several presenters examining this theme throughout Lent.

Retreats and Classes
Tom will also lead a twilight retreat of reflection, discussion and prayer on Feb. 17 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. An offering of $10 is suggested. The cost includes dinner.

A twilight retreat for “busy people” will be offered by John Hogan, OFM, and Gene Pistacchio, OFM, at St. Anthony Shrine on March 9 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. The event costs $15 and preregistration is encouraged.

In New York City, Lenten Vespers will begin in the evenings on Feb. 24 at 6:30 p.m. at Holy Name Parish on West 96th Street. This year’s theme is “Lent With Pope Francis: Our Call to Joy!”  A day-long retreat in Spanish is set for March 7 at the Upper West Side church. Provincial Vicar Lawrence Hayes, OFM, will lead a program titled “Encuentro Biblicos con Jesus” that will explore biblical personalities whose lives were changes by their encounters with Jesus. “We will consider what message and meaning those encounters may have for our lives today,” said Larry, who lives at Holy Name Friary.

For those who prefer morning programs, Andrew Reitz, OFM, pastor of St. Francis Church in New York City, will lead a morning of prayer on March 21 from 9:30 a.m. to noon. This will be “an excellent opportunity to prepare ourselves to journey with the Lord into Holy Week,” according to the parish website. Guided reflection and light refreshments will be included.

Also at St. Francis Parish, Kevin Tortorelli, OFM, will teach a class on “Lent and Easter with the Fathers of the Church” from Feb. 24 to April 7. Participants will read the Gospels of select Sundays of Lent and Easter, and a homily on that Sunday’s Gospel by a church father. “The homilies give us some insight into their formative thinking regarding Scripture and understanding regarding foundational Christian ideas: grace and nature; sacramental insight into God and creation; and spirituality as integral to the human mind,” according to the course description. The cost of the class is $60.

In Japan, Russell Becker, OFM, will lead a discussion throughout Lent on the newly-released book “From Vatican II to Pope Francis: Charting a Catholic Future” by Fr. Paul Crowley, SJ. More information about the Franciscan Chapel Center‘s programs can be found on the center’s website.

The staff of St. Francis Springs Prayer Center in Stoneville, N.C., where Louis Canino, OFM, and David Hyman, OFM, are stationed, will hold a program called “Prepare for Lent and ‘Catch the Spirit’” on Feb. 17. The daylong event will help participants discover how they can find a spiritual reawakening this Lent. The $25 cost includes lunch and Eucharist.

More information about the rich and varied programs offered by ministries can be found on parish websites.

Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.