Ministries Offer Varied Lenten Services, Programs

Jocelyn Thomas Around the Province

The Lenten season is rich with spiritual events at ministries around the Province.

On March 14, St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Triangle, Va., began its Franciscan Lenten Reflection Series with Joseph Nangle, OFM, and Vincent Cushing, OFM. In the morning session, Joe provided a historical perspective on the work of Pope Francis in the Latin American Church, according to John Habel, of the parish’s adult faith and development ministry.

“Fr. Joe placed emphasis on how the major conferences of the Latin American bishops, conducted from 1968 to 2005, were influential in Pope Francis’s own formation and pastoral development,” said Habel. “Through the ‘gaze of the missionary disciple,’ Pope Francis has placed focus on the Church as a missionary Church, reaching out to the poor, the elderly, the youth and the nonbelievers.”

In the afternoon session, Vincent demonstrated how Pope Francis is “a man of symbols” who frequently engages in symbolic acts or speech, according to Habel. “Embracing the disabled and disfigured, washing the feet of a Muslim woman, inviting homeless people to breakfast, his simple lifestyle and manner of dress, carrying his own briefcase, and driving around in a Ford Focus are just some of the symbolic actions. Pope Francis’s vision can be found in the central theme of his ministry. In ‘the Joy of the Gospel,’ he calls for a conversion that will set the Church on to ‘new ways of being Church.’”

The parish continued the Franciscan Lenten Reflection Series on March 29 with a discussion by Daniel Horan OFM, of his book “The Last Words of Jesus: A Meditation on Love and Suffering.”

In Florida, William McConville, OFM, led a parish mission from March 17 to 19 at Sacred Heart Parish in Tampa. Titled “Walking in Hope: Lent, Death and the Fullness of Life,” the mission encouraged participants to reflect and pray on their own deaths and on the hope the Lord offers each of us. The mission addressed the following questions: “What does death mean for a Christian? How do we die well? What will it mean for us to give an account of our lives before a merciful yet just God? How do we imagine our ultimate destiny, the fullness of life in the Kingdom of God? Heaven? Hell? And what of purgatory?”

In Boston, St. Anthony Shrine offered a Lenten reflection on March 27 for the 20s/30s Young Adults Group at which Fr. Damien Park, OFM, spoke. Earlier in the month, John Maganzini, OFM, presented a talk titled “The Spirituality of Pope Francis…the Jesuit Pope with the Heart and Spirit of Saint Francis of Assisi” three times at St. Anthony Shrine and Ministry Center. The presentations were well received and well attended, said Maribeth McDonald, the Shrine’s director of development.

“The presentations looked at the spirituality of Pope Francis, who exhibits both Jesuit and Franciscan spirituality in seeking to ‘Find God in all things’ and ‘Preach the Gospel always and, when necessary, use words,’” she said. “During this reflective time, presenter and participants look at the key spiritual ‘gifts’ in both Jesuit and Franciscan spiritualties as lived in the day-to-day life of Pope Francis.”

In New York City, a service of reconciliation called “Lent Pardon and Peace” is planned for St. Francis of Assisi Parish on West 31st Street. This service of communal song, scripture, examination of conscience, and prayer around the cross is planned for 7:30 p.m. on April 11. At St. Stephen of Hungary Church on East 82nd Street, all are welcome to “Soup and Scripture” on Thursdays from 1 to 2 p.m.

 Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.