This is the fifth in a series of profiles on friars commemorating anniversaries of Franciscan profession in 2011. The April 6 issue of HNP Today featured Michael Joyce, OFM, of Providence, R.I. A biography of jubilarian Brian Linehan, OFM, appeared in the April 20 issue.
LOUDONVILLE, N.Y. — Gerald Mudd, OFM, spent the first 23 years of his Franciscan life abroad in Brazil, but now, at 71, he stays close to home in Upstate New York.
From the pulpit at St. Francis Chapel in Colonie, N.Y., the Buffalo, N.Y., native, is helping to bring the Gospel to people closer to their homes, too. The easily accessible St. Francis Chapel is located in a suburban shopping center, making it convenient for people to stop in for Mass on their commute to and from work or during their lunch hour.
The unique concept of the chapel, offering four daily Masses on weekdays, is working well. “The chapel,” said Gerald, “gives better accessibility to people who are out shopping or on the road and don’t have a chance to get to their parish.” It’s especially popular at the 12:10 p.m. Mass, with people out doing errands at lunchtime.
Gerry, who lives at St. Bernadine of Siena Friary, on the campus of Siena College in Loudonville, enjoys his ministry. As he prepares this spring to celebrate the jubilee year of his profession with the Franciscans, he reflected on 50 years of being a friar.
This unique chapel experience, he said, of ministering in a strip mall works because people don’t have to join the church or become parishioners. “It’s an anonymous situation, which is especially good for confessions,” he said.
In contrast, Gerry’s ministry was quite personal during his decades in Brazil. He remembers fondly his time in Goias, from 1968 to 1991, where he worked as a cleric, teacher, assistant pastor, orientator of vocations, director of formation and pastor.
“I liked working with the people. They were very open to our ministry,” he said. “There was a tremendous amount of work to be done because the Brazilians are not well catechized. I always enjoyed working with charismatic renewal.”
Gerry thought he would stay in Brazil for his entire ministry, but when his father developed cancer he returned home in 1991.
The graduate of Bishop Timon High School in Buffalo grew up in a family where Catholic education was important. His parents — Richard and Mildred — were from Missouri and raised four children.
At Timon, founded by the Franciscans in 1946, Gerald was first attracted to the friars’ joviality and fraternal life. He said he had thought earlier about becoming a priest, but once he met the Franciscans, he was sold on religious life and planned to join the Order.
Once professed in Lafayette, N.J., he was influenced by several friars at home and abroad, including Myron McCormick, OFM, and the late Joseph Doino, OFM, Celsus Hayes, OFM, John Vogel, OFM, and Remy Goudreau, OFM.
Returning to the United States
When he returned to the United States from Brazil, Gerry was assigned associate pastor at St. Francis Chapel in Providence, R.I., from 1992 to 1995. He worked briefly in the Ministry of the Word in Natick, Mass., from 1995 to 1996, and was assigned as pastor to St. Anthony Parish in Camden, N.J., from 1996 to 1997. From 1997 to 2001, Gerry served at St. Anthony Shrine in Boston.
In 2001, he was assigned to Sts. Rita and Patrick Church in Buffalo, where he was parochial vicar. In 2005, he was assigned to St. Francis Chapel, just outside Albany.
As one of four friars at the Colonie chapel, Gerry assists at all four weekday Masses: 10 a.m., 12:20 p.m., 5:10 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Describing the worship space as nice as well as handicapped accessible, Gerry said the chapel appeals to retirees and business people alike. Since the chapel is in a strip mall, “you can stop in or drive by,” he said.
“I enjoy preaching and confessions. We offer more time for penitence than other shrines or churches.”
He also said he thoroughly has enjoyed his association with Holy Name Province, where he appreciates the atmosphere and diversity of ministries. “We continue to meet the needs of people who aren’t being attended to.”
Staying Active Outdoors
He continues to be an enthusiast of outdoor activities and enjoys walking and jogging around the Siena campus. He also goes to the basketball games and tends a vegetable garden at the friary.
He would like to go down in friar history as someone who was available to the community and did what he could do to make the fraternity better. He said he also enjoys helping friars as they age.
He lost a brother late last year, but gets to see two sisters who live in Rochester, N.Y., and Chantilly, Va.
Life is good for Gerry and he is grateful to the Province. On June 30, he will be honored with other friars commemorating 25 and 50 years of profession at the Provincial jubilee celebration.
— Wendy Healy is a Connecticut-based freelance writer and a frequent contributor to HNP Today.