Lenten Missions, Retreats Focus on Baptism

HNP Communications Friar News

This article provides an overview of some of the many seasonal programs being offered by friars. It does not describe all the events going on at ministries around Holy Name Province.

This year’s Year of Faith theme, laid out by the pope, has been a perfect backdrop for Lenten study, calling for the deepening of the faith, intensifying the celebration of the faith, and witnessing to one’s faith through service.

The Province’s Ministry of the Word and faith formation programs, though active all year, are especially lively during the meditative Lenten season.

On any given day, the MOW friars can be found traveling locally and across the country to give retreats or preach, while HNP friars based at parishes and schools have also been presenting seasonal programs, both at their ministry sites and, as guest speakers, at churches outside the Province.

Whether through a one-day retreat, or multiple-day event, such as a mission, Lent programs offer Catholics a time to embrace their faith, using the Franciscans’ teachings and experiences for growth.

MOW friars planned 25 events throughout Lent, traveling as far as California and New Mexico, while other events happened right at home.

Being the Church
Several of the Lenten programs focused on baptism, specifically how Catholics are called to “be the Church.” In the midst of this Year of Faith, several Lenten programs featured reflections on identity and vocation as Christians and their relationship to the world.

St. Francis Springs Prayer Center, the retreat center in Stoneville, N.C., where Louis Canino, OFM, is director, began the Lenten season with a one-day retreat on Feb. 12, the day before Ash Wednesday. Louis focused on the sacrament of baptism and reflected on how baptism ties into Lenten themes. The retreat was attended by roughly 70 people.

Daniel Horan, OFM, of Brighton, Mass., will speak about baptism at Corpus Christi Church, Manhattan, on March 3. The parish, which is marking the 75th anniversary of Thomas Merton’s baptism at Corpus Christi on Nov. 16, 1938, asked Dan to discuss “A Desert Cry, a Prophet’s Call: Merton’s Model for Christian Life.”

William McConville, OFM, of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Raleigh, N.C., and Gonzalo Torres-Acosta, OFM, of Pompton Lakes, N.J., led a mission on three evenings this week at Immaculate Conception Church in Durham, N.C. The mission, given in both English and Spanish, centered on responding to the call Christians have received through baptism to “be the Church.”

Next week, John Anglin, OFM, an enthusiastic MOW preacher and blogger, will travel from the St. Anthony Friary in St. Petersburg, Fla., to St. Joseph Church in Anderson, S.C., to speak at a revival retreat on March 4.

In New Jersey, Daniel Lanahan, OFM, will host a three-day mission called “Awakening Our Faith in Challenging times” at St. Catharine’s Church in Holmdel, roughly an hour from his home in Butler, N.J. All are invited to the program that begins March 11. Information is available on the parish website.

Kevin Cronin, OFM, also a member of MOW, was asked to present at four churches in Queens, N.Y. He is currently substituting for a pastor on vacation at St. Ignatius Martyr Church in Long Beach, N.Y., in a section of Long Island hard hit by Hurricane Sandy last fall. While at St. Ignatius, Kevin hosts Lenten soup and bread suppers, and book and movie discussions. His Lenten mission, titled “You Are Near,” ends today.

Witnessing Through Service
Last week, Kenneth Paulli, OFM, at Siena College in Upstate New York, gave a parish mission at St. Mark Church in Huntersville, N.C., near Charlotte.  “Open Wide the Doors to Christ: The Reign of God is at Hand,” focused on Rediscover the Faith, Celebrate the Faith and Witness through Service. His messages can be heard online. Ken, who likes to present at least one mission event a year, focused the topics outlined in the Year of Faith, especially on witnessing to one’s faith through service. These events, he said, are a way for him to participate in a retreat while also giving it.

Holy Name of Jesus Parish, where Daniel Kenna, OFM, is pastor, is hosting Lenten Vespers and supper on Tuesday evenings. Andrew Reitz, OFM, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Church, Manhattan, spoke at the Feb. 26 program,“How Can I Be a Better Christian?” In the reflection he gave on Luke 13, 8-9, Andrew said, “Jesus’ parables are taken from things people were familiar with, so we have a tree that hadn’t produced anything for three years. Rather than pulling the tree out, the response is, ‘Leave it for this year also…’ How does this apply to people and situations that we come across? This will be something that I will go into.”

In Boston, St. Anthony Shrine will host a March 7 Lenten Twilight Retreat, facilitated by John Hogan, OFM, Gene Pistacchio, OFM, Sue Petro, and Jackie Stewart. Information can be found in the weekly bulletin which is posted on the shrine’s website.

— Wendy Healy, a Connecticut-based freelance writer, is a frequent contributor to HNP Today. Communications coordinator Maria Hayes provided research for this article.