Lenten Activities in the Year of Mercy

Jocelyn Thomas Around the Province


The season of Lent and the Year of Mercy have generated a variety of programs around Holy Name Province designed to help individuals reflect and bring themselves closer to God.

In New York City, the community of Holy Name of Jesus and St. Gregory the Great is holding a Tuesday Evening Lenten Vespers series called “Mercy: The Key to Living as Christians,” beginning next week. The five-week program, being held at St Mary of the Angels Chapel on West 96th Street, includes reflections by two HNP friars.

On Feb. 16, Stephen Mimnaugh, OFM, of St. Francis of Assisi Parish on West 31st Street, will give a talk titled “Pope Francis Challenges the Church to be Merciful.” On March 15, Kevin Tortorelli, OFM, will lead the concluding session with a talk titled “The Sacrament of Mercy: Believing in God’s Unconditional Love.” Each program begins at 6:30 p.m. with evening prayer and a “simple supper,” according to a flyer.

At St. Francis of Assisi Church, Provincial Vicar Lawrence Hayes, OFM, is leading a series on Wednesday afternoons titled “Jesus Christ is the Face of the Father’s Mercy.” In addition, a Week of Prayer to Mary, Untier of Knots is being offered from Feb. 20 to March 4. Information about these and other programs is available on the parish’s website.

In Hartford, Conn., St. Patrick-St. Anthony Parish is offering a Noontime Lenten Nourishment series that runs for six weeks beginning Feb. 16. The spiritual talks with members of the parish staff and guest speakers will be presented in the Franciscan Center for Urban Ministry.

Also at the Hartford parish, Kenneth Paulli, OFM, of Loudonville, N.Y., will lead a Lenten twilight retreat on March 1 titled “In this Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, Let God Surprise you this Lent” and Thomas Hartle, OFM, of Butler, N.J., will offer a weekend retreat in April titled “Desiring One Thing Only: The Spirit of God at Work Within.”

In Raleigh, N.C., St. Francis of Assisi Parish hosted a Sunday evening program on Jan. 31 that drew more than 1,000 people to hear a presentation by Fr. Greg Boyle, the Jesuit priest who started Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, and who is well known as the author of “Tattoos on the Heart.”

“Fr. Boyle spoke movingly about his experiences working with gang members in Los Angeles, about listening to them and hearing their stories,” said Steven Patti, OFM, pastor. “His words lived into the words of our pope who has spoken about the importance of creating a ‘culture of encounter.’ Boyle spoke for about an hour and then stayed afterward to sign copies of his book. The talk drew people from Raleigh, Durham, Greensboro, and other surrounding areas — overall a great success as St. Francis in Raleigh responds to Pope Francis’ call for a Year of Mercy.”

In Boston, several friars are leading a program called “Loving Mercy: Pope Francis Year of Prayer for Mercy” to a series of special prayer services on Fridays, held in the first floor church at midday. The 14-week program is being presented by four friars: John Aherne, OFM, Eric Carpine, OFM, Christopher Coccia, OFM, and Tony LoGalbo, OFM.

The Shrine’s bulletin invites visitors to “discover the richness of God’s mercy through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. This prayer service began in December and runs through May, with no programs between Feb. 10 and March 27.

As other members of the HNP Ministry of the Word team are doing, Kevin Cronin, OFM, is beginning his traditional season of Lenten missions on First Sunday of Lent. “I will be giving my first one at St. Anthony’s Church in Butler, N.J. and then I have three missions in the Brooklyn Diocese — in Jackson Heights, Bellrose, and Bay Ridge, Brooklyn — and my final one will be in Port Jefferson on Long Island. Our theme is ‘Loving God Gladly, celebrating The Joy of the Gospel.’”

Information about Lenten programs being given by HNP Ministry of the Word friars can be found on the MOW website.

A digital Lenten series has been launched by the friars of the seven OFM provinces. Beginning on Ash Wednesday, the Friar app, created last year by the U.S. Franciscans Digital Media Committee, is offering daily posts for the season.

“Each day during Lent, we will post a special Lenten Good Deed to help you make your 40 days more focused, more prayerful and more Franciscan,” said an announcement from the US Franciscans. “Prayer; fasting; almsgiving: these are the pillars of Lent. As we begin another season of Lent, join us each day on the Friar app.”

A blog series called “Friar Fridays” will soon be available on the US Franciscans website.

— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.
Related Links