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Mourning the Deaths of Franciscans

The Provincial Office staff recently learned of the passing of several Franciscan friars and four Franciscan sisters.

Two members of St. Barbara Province have died – one in Mexico and one in California, where the province is headquartered.

Ivo Toneck, OFM, died on February 29 at Casa Franciscana Mission in Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico. He was 92 years old. As a missionary for three decades in Guaymas in northern Mexico, he led a series of significant construction projects, among them a new chapel and retreat house, the expansion of a soup kitchen to feed greater numbers of poor, and a music conservatory for young people.

Anthony Lavorin, OFM, died on March 20 in Oakland, California, at the age of 100. He served as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps in the South Pacific theater during World War II, surviving the attack on Pearl Harbor. In a video posted on YouTube about his life, Anthony spoke about being pinned down in a foxhole with his 30-member platoon – bullets flying overhead and one striking him in the leg. It was this incident that led to him to join the Franciscans to demonstrate gratitude to God for surviving the attack. His ministries included serving as a missionary in the Peruvian mountains and with Native Americans in Arizona.

Three members of the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, New York, died last month – Sr. Barbara Joseph, OSF, Sr. Thomas Rose Redling, OSF, and Sr. Charlotte Reilley, OSF.

Sr. Barbara Joseph, OSF, died on March 7 at St. Joseph Hospital in Tampa, Florida, at the age of 84. During her 31 years as an Allegany Franciscan, she served the poor and marginalized at St. Francis Inn – HNP’s iconic soup kitchen in Philadelphia – and did retreat ministry at the Franciscan Center in Tampa, and social ministry at Daystar in St. Petersburg and Gulfport, both in Florida. A talented writer, she was the first editor of Allegany Connections, the congregation’s publication.

Sr. Thomas Rose Redling, OSF, 96, died on March 13 at St. Elizabeth Motherhouse in Allegany. After receiving a bachelor of science degree in elementary education from St. Bonaventure University, and later an advance certificate in history, she taught middle school in New York, New Jersey and Florida. She was principals and superior at Corpus Christi High School in Miami. During her 76 years in the order, she also served in healthcare ministries until her retirement in 2007. At her eulogy, Sr. Thomas Rose was remembered for her intellect, sense of humor, devotion to Our Lady, and singing talent.

Sr. Charlotte Reilley, OSF, died on March 14 at the Allegany motherhouse. She was 95 years old and had spent most of her 77 years in education and parish ministry. After graduating from St. Bonaventure University with a bachelor of science in elementary education, she taught at elementary and middle schools in Florida, Virginia, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York. Her parish work include serving as religious education coordinator and other ministries such as the choir. She also held administrative positions in the order.

Henry Kolbok, OFM, of Assumption BVM Province, died on March 16 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was 85 years old. A native of Lodi, New Jersey, his ministries consisted primarily of maintenance and caretaker roles. After professing his final vows as a Franciscan in 1959, he lived at several locations that included Cedar Lake, Indiana, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Pulaski and Sturtevant, Wisconsin.

John-Sebastian Laird-Hammond, OFM, died on March 28, tragically as a result of COVID-19. He was 59 years old and was identified in published reports as the first casualty of the coronavirus in Washington, D.C. Before being hospitalized with the virus, he had been planning to transfer to a friary in New York City to take on a new role in fundraising efforts for Franciscan missions in Central America. For roughly 20 years, until last fall, he had lived at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America in the Brookland section of the nation’s capital, where he served as the Secretariat of the Commissariat of the Holy Land US and the Franciscan Monastery.

Andrew Buvala, OFM, 98, of Sacred Heart Province, died on March 29 in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Among Andrew’s many assignments after professing his solemn vows in 1945 were novice-master, provincial councilor, high school teacher, and pastoral minister. One of 14 children born to parents who had emigrated from Slovakia, he spent 23 years teaching math and languages at St. Joseph Franciscan High School Seminary in Westmont, Illinois, where he also was rector for 12 of those years. He served for 32 years in pastoral ministry to a Native American community in northern Michigan, and as pastor of the Immaculate Conception Mission in Peshawbestown.

Sr. Constance Frank, OSF, a member of the School Sisters of St. Francis, died on March 28 at Mt. Assisi Place. She was 93 years old and in her 72nd year of religious life. Websites indicated that additional biographical information would be posted in the near future.

Lester Bach, OFM Cap, 88, died on Feb. 2 in Appleton, Wisconsin. In addition to his ministry with the Secular Franciscan Order for most of his religious life, he served as the Capuchin representative to the Conference of National Spiritual Assistants (CNSA) for more than a decade. He made many visitations of Secular Franciscan regions, including those served by the Order of Friars Minor. He was well known for his retreats and for being an accomplished author, whose books have been used in formation ministry over the past 25 years.

Editor’s note: Each month, HNP Today publishes news of the deaths of Franciscan brothers, priests and sisters. Information should be emailed to the HNP Communications Office.

 – Compiled by Jocelyn Thomas

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