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Ministries Ready to Celebrate Order’s Patron Saint

On Oct. 4, Franciscans around the world will observe the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi. Commemorations around the Province are already underway and will include both solemn and social festivities. These include the celebration of the merging of two parishes, lectures, film and music presentations, along with special Masses and the traditional Transitus, the celebration of St. Francis’ life and death.

Celebrating 60 Years of Service
In Hartford, Conn., Francis Week will kick off a yearlong celebration of the 60th anniversary of the merging of St. Patrick and St. Anthony parishes. A party will be held Oct. 1 on the newly renovated patio, courtyard, and friary meeting room, according to the St. Patrick-St. Anthony Parish website.

“This will be a great time to get to know the parishioners. We are also blessed with some folks joining us from recently merged or closed parishes,” said Thomas Gallagher, OFM, pastor. “On Oct. 3, we will host the remembering of the passing St. Francis and will retell stories from his writings as well as break bread together. The next day, our feast day Mass will be a celebration of the gift of God given to the world in the life of Saints Francis and Clare and, through them, to countless generations.”

St. Patrick-St. Anthony parishioners gather for the Transitus in 2012. (Photo courtesy of the parish)

Prayer and Presentations
St. Francis of Assisi Parish on West 31st Street in New York City is holding a week of prayer in honor of the saint beginning on Sept. 25. “In an era of doubt and uncertainty, let us pray for the grace to be instruments of peace in our world,” said an announcement posted on the parish’s website, which also mentions a variety of events planned for this year’s Francis Week. They include an evening of music, wine and light fare at Viva Francesco cabaret on Sept. 29 and a talk on Oct. 2 by William Beaudin, OFM, about how the wisdom of St. Francis might help address the challenges facing society today.

On Oct. 3, the Transitus will be celebrated at 31st Street with a premier performance of a musical setting of the Canticle of Brother Sun by world-renowned composer Philip Stopford.

In Loudonville, N.Y., Siena College will begin the commemoration of the feast of St. Francis on Sept. 30 with the blessing of the animals.

“In remembrance of Francis’ love for all creation, bring your pet dog, cat, hamster, parrot, elephant or giraffe to our annual feast day blessing of the animals,” said the invitation shared on the college’s site along with a photo of Lawrence Anderson, OFM, college chaplain.

On Oct. 5, Sr. Ilia Delio, OSF, will deliver Siena’s annual Clare Center Lecture with an address on “Being at Home in an Unfinished Universe: Lessons from St. Francis.” Sr. Ilia is a former professor of spirituality at the Washington Theological Union, where she also directed the Franciscan Center of Theology and Spirituality. She has written several books, including “Christ in Evolution, Care for Creation: A Franciscan Spirituality of the Earth” and “Clare of Assisi: a Heart Full of Love.”

Following the example of the patron saint, St. Mary’s Parish in Pompton Lakes, N.J., is using the feast to remind their community to embrace “the strangers among us”, the poor and marginalized. Parishioners are invited to a special film presentation on Oct. 5 of “A Table of Four is Ready,” the PBS documentary about the Province’s St. Francis Inn, which has been feeding the hungry of Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood since December 1979.

“We will celebrate a man whose particular concern was for the outcasts of society,” said Gonzalo de Jesus Torres-Acosta, OFM, pastor, in a message in the Sept. 24 bulletin that included information about the event. “When Francis encountered a beggar who was suffering from leprosy – the disease which above all inspired horror in the respectable people of the day – he forced himself to overcome his natural repugnance, embraced the man and gave him his tunic. He embraced all things with a rapture of unheard of devotion, speaking to them of the Lord and admonishing them to praise him.”

The parish will also have a prayer service with school children and will offer a blessing of the animals during the week.

Further south, the Catholic Center at the University of Georgia in Athens will begin its Francis Days on Sept. 28 with an ecology talk by Michael Hahn, professor of plant biology.

“We use this week to help people become more aware of St. Francis and the Franciscan charism,” said John Coughlin, OFM, director of the center. “On Oct. 2, William McConville, OFM, will also be giving a talk titled ‘Francis of Assisi and Vaclav Havel: The Power of the Powerless.’ I believe what draws people to the saint is that he was a man who lived his life creatively, joyfully, passionately, and relationally. He was a transformed person himself who had a powerfully transforming effect on so many others.”

Seasonal Festivities

The northern Virginia community of St. Francis of Assisi Parish enjoying its Francis Fest in 2015. (Photo courtesy of the parish)

The Province’s Raleigh, N.C., and Triangle, Va., parishes — both named St. Francis of Assisi — will be holding their annual festivals, complete with carnival rides, food, entertainment and other activities during the weekend of Oct. 7.

As is traditional, Masses, pet blessings, and the Transitus will be held at many ministries around the Province. More information about feast day celebrations can be found on the websites of HNP ministries.

— Johann Cuervo is the communications assistant for Holy Name Province.

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