NEW YORK — Films, lectures, animal blessings, book-signings and a display of the flags of Assisi are some of the ways that the Province is commemorating the Oct. 4 feast of St. Francis this year.
Province ministries along the East Coast — from Massachusetts to Florida — are also taking time to remember the 800-year history of the Franciscan Order, which St. Francis formed in 1209. The usual celebrations of the Transitus, animal blessings and special Masses, are being complemented this year with unique events to mark the 800th anniversary.
Holy Name Province friars are proud to be part of an Order that has withstood the test of time. As Provincial Vicar Dominic Monti, OFM, wrote in a recent newspaper article, “The challenge as we begin the next 800 years is to continue to find new ways to share Christ’s love.” The article, “Meaning hard but possible to find,” which appeared in the June 4 issue of The Evangelist, also noted: “To this day, St. Francis of Assisi continues to inspire, especially as the patron saint of animals, the evironment and peace, families, merchants and even the state of Colorado, and against dying alone.”
Dominic and Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, will celebrate Mass in honor of the patron saint of the Order at St. Francis of Assisi Church in New York City, the Province’s church in the heart of Manhattan.
In Boston, more than a week of events was organized at St. Anthony Shrine.
On Sept. 26 and 27, Charles Finnegan, OFM, spoke on “A Movement Planted in Print,” and the annual Friars’ Street Fair was held on Sept. 29. In addition, the Transitus, a service about the last hours of St. Francis’ life, will take place Oct. 3, followed by a reception in the shrine auditorium. On Oct. 4, the friars will hold a blessing of the animals at 1 p.m.
The Church of St. Mary in Providence, R.I., will include a reprint of an article by Dominic in its Oct. 4 bulletin. The story, titled “Franciscans Plunge into the World,” also appeared in the Providence Journal.
In Hartford, Conn., St. Patrick-St. Anthony Parish will celebrate the feast day with a blessing of the animals on Oct. 3, and the Transitus at 7:30 p.m. Weekend Masses will also commemorate St. Francis. The community has a variety of events planned for October.
New York Area
The parish of St. Francis of Assisi in New York City planned a full week of activities, beginning on Sept. 27, with two unique programs: “800 Years Ago” and “800 Years Later.” In the second, pastor Jerome Massimino, OFM, with John Felice, OFM, Robert Gavin, OFM, Stephen Mimnaugh, OFM, and Hugh Hines, OFM, participated in the “What Makes a Friars Tick” portion of the program that opened with a reading by Tony LoGalbo, OFM.
The church exterior has been adorned with flags of Assisi, nine colorful banners that originated in the Calendimaggio festival in Assisi, Italy, to mark the arrival of spring in May. Films about St. Francis and his native Assisi were also shown, tours of the church were offered, and Dominic signed his book, Francis & His Brothers: A Popular History of the Franciscan Friars.
Additional Francis Week events include:
• “Viva Francesco! Cabaret,” featuring the Tony award-winning singer Melba Moore, in a salute to the music ministry that includes Italian wines and cheeses, Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. Proceeds benefit the St. Francis Breadline.
• Blessing of the animals, Oct. 3 at 1 p.m.
• The Transitus of St. Francis, Oct. 3 at 7 p.m.
• The Solemnity of St. Francis will be highlighted at Mass celebrated by John and Dominic, Oct. 4 at 5 p.m.
As a permanent remembrance of the anniversary, Timothy Shreenan, OFM, the parish’s director of liturgy and communications, produced a colorful picture book about the church and its ministries.
In northern New Jersey, the community of St. Mary Church in Pompton Lakes is celebrating with the following events:
• Mass on Sept. 27 with Dominic as guest homilist. He signed copies of his book after Mass.
• Photos taken by Octavio Duran, OFM, were exhibited on Sept. 27, in a show titled “Through a Franciscan Lens.”
• A peace Mass is being sponsored by the parish’s People of Peace on Oct. 1 at 7:30 p.m.
• Women’s communion breakfast on Oct. 3, “Francis and Clare: Crossing Boundaries for 800 Years,” will feature Francis Gunn, OFM.
• Blessing of the animals on Oct. 4 at 1:30 p.m.
• Spanish program with Gonzalo Torres, OFM, Oct. 9, 7:30 p.m. He will discuss Il Poverello: Story of St. Francis of Assisi, a 1985 documentary about the saint’s life.
At nearby St. Bonaventure Church in Paterson, N.J., Peter Chepaitis, OFM, and Sister Anna Tantsits, IHM, of Bethany Ministries, are presenting an evening of reflection on Sept. 30. The evening includes a performance of Sacred Creation, a dramatic meditation they have developed, followed by discussion about the place of creation in the spirituality of Francis and Clare. The meditation includes stories from the lives of Francis and Clare, as told in their writings.
On Oct. 3 and 4, Peter and Sr. Anna will present a mini-mission for churches in Colton, South Colton and Parishville, all part of the Diocese of Ogdensburg in Upstate New York. The mini-mission will include a celebration of the Transitus on Saturday evening and a performance of Sacred Creation on Sunday afternoon.
In South Jersey, St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Brant Beach is offering a blessing of the animals on Oct. 3 at 10 a.m. and a Transitus at 7 p.m. Weekend Masses will also celebrate the ministry of St. Francis.
To celebrate St. Francis’ abundant spirit, the food pantry of St. Camillus Church in Silver Spring, Md., is collaborating with the Priority Partners Program of the Capitol Area Food Bank to distribute 6,000 pounds of fresh produce to needy families on Oct 3 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Volunteers from several churches will partner for the distribution. Clowns, music and candy will be available for children.
On Oct. 4, the community of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Triangle, Va., will celebrate the 800th anniversary with an all-day parish festival, in addition to offering a Transitus and blessing of the animals. During the second weekend of October, David McBriar, OFM, will preach on “Being a Franciscan Parish in the 21st Century.” He will also meet with the pastoral and finance councils for a longer reflection. The parish is sponsoring a pilgrimage to Assisi next spring.
Western New York
On Oct. 4, members of St. Bonaventure Parish in Allegany, N.Y., will gather at 6:30 p.m. with the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany at the St. Elizabeth Motherhouse for a multimedia presentation and prayer based on the peace prayer of St. Francis. The reflection was developed by Pastor Richard Husted, OFM. Richard will also show the “Love at Work,” Holy Name Province’s DVD, as part of his homily on Oct. 4.
In Buffalo, N.Y., the friars of St. Patrick’s Friary are having a barbecue on Oct. 4 in the new St. Francis garden, created by Maurice Swartout, OFM. Third Order groups and collaborators in ministry have been invited, according to Guardian Francis Pompei, OFM.
At nearby St. Clare Parish, where Michael Putich, OFM, is pastor, the church will present the Transitus, coordinated by the Third Order.
In the South
The community of Immaculate Conception Church in Durham, N.C., is celebrating the 800th anniversary with the traditional Transitus and animal blessing as well as with several special events. They are:
• A workshop on Oct. 2 led by Pastor Daniel McLellan, OFM, called “Living Simply in a Complex World: What Can we Learn from St. Francis?’
• William McConville, OFM, of nearby St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Raleigh will be guest homilist.
Commemorations of the feast of St. Francis — prayers, animal blessing and other events — are being offered at many churches, Franciscan and not, outside Holy Name Province.
— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.