RALEIGH, N.C. — On the weekend of Oct. 1, the Catholic Community of St. Francis of Assisi celebrated the 25th anniversary of Mark Reamer, OFM, being a member in the Order of Friars Minor. Although recognized in June at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Midtown Manhattan, it was on the weekend of the feast of St. Francis that Mark wanted to celebrate with his parishioners.
This summer, also in commemoration of the pastor’s jubilee, the Mark G. Reamer, OFM Endowment for Franciscan Spirituality and Tradition was established to recognize the jubilarian’s commitment to Franciscan life, and to ensure that the tradition lives on as our parish.
The celebration began Saturday morning with a blessing of the animals ceremony with which Michael F. Burbidge, bishop of Raleigh, assisted. Later in the morning, 118 young people celebrated the sacrament of confirmation with Bishop Burbidge and Mark. In speaking to the youth, Mark’s wish for them was “May the fullness of the gifts of the Holy Spirit guide you as you continue to deepen your faith and grow in your relationship with our triune God.”
That evening, a jubilee celebration was held in the parish Fellowship Hall. Attending the dinner were fellow friars, parishioners and Mark’s entire family who had traveled from throughout the country to be present. Following the blessing of the meal, which was offered by David McBriar, OFM, associate pastor William McConville, OFM, served as the master of ceremonies for the “Four Faces of Mark” Roast. Recalling the “First Face of Mark,” or his college years, was Jerome Massimino, OFM, of Florida.
Mark’s early years in formation were recounted by Fr. John Boyd-Boland, OFM, from Brisbane, Australia. While serving as a U.S. Naval Chaplain during Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, fellow Naval Chaplain Rev. Mick Maher recounted life in the desert and the profound influence that Mark had on both the soldiers as well as the other chaplains with whom Mark served. Finishing up the roast with the “Fourth Face of Mark” was David Convertino, OFM, (shown in photo above) of New York, who spoke of Mark’s devotion as a friar. Fr. Bill then offered the podium to Mark for his remarks. The pastor spoke of his gratitude and pride for having gathered in the room what he considered to be his entire family: namely, his parish family, his Franciscan family of Holy Name Province, and his Reamer family including his mother, Frances, who had traveled from New Jersey to attend as did all seven of his siblings and their spouses.
On Sunday, the public celebration continued with the 11:30 a.m. Mass which Mark concelebrated with his brother, Fr. William Reamer, with his family present in the congregation. As has been the tradition on the Sunday when the parish celebrates the feast of St. Francis, the parish mission statement is recited and all serving in any ministry are prayed for and commissioned to go forth and serve the Lord.
Following the Mass was the annual parish picnic consisting of food, fun and games. However, as has also been the tradition, we also attempt to remember and assist those less fortunate by offering parishioners service projects to participate in as a family. They include building walls for a Habitat for Humanity house, working in our community garden, and filling bags with beans and rice for Stop Hunger Now.
The Reamer Endowment is funding opportunities for the Raleigh parishioners. Monetary contributions “will recognize Fr. Mark’s gifts of leadership and Franciscan spirituality both to the Catholic community of St. Francis of Assisi and to the larger civic and ecclesial communities,” according to an informational pamphlet.
Information about the endowment and about Mark’s jubilee celebration in June were provided this summer on the church blog.
— Marc Kielty is coordinator of ministry support at the Raleigh parish.