Mourning the Deaths of Franciscans – June 2020 Update

HNP Communications Franciscan World

The Provincial Office staff has recently learned of the passing of members of three English-speaking Conference provinces as well as several sisters. One had worked with Franciscan friars in Bolivia for many years.

Bart Wolf, OFM, 77, a member of Our Lady of Guadalupe Province, died on May 14 in Gallup, New Mexico, of the effects of COVID-19. Born in Slovenia, he moved with his family to the United States in 1950 at the age of eight, and four years later became an American citizen. Professing his first vows in 1967, he served in several communities, including St. Joseph Mission in Laguna Pueblo, New Mexico, and the Navajo Reservation. His expert skills in woodworking led him to establish the Franciscan Studio for custom woodworking – and while stationed in Pena Blanca and Albuquerque for 25 years, he created liturgical furnishings for churches and chapels, including more than 30 commissioned pieces, in eight states.

Leo Sprietsma, OFM, of St. Barbara Province, died on May 16 in Tucson, Arizona. He was 92 years old. A professed Franciscan since July 1946, the Phoenix native had served in parish ministry throughout his friar life as a pastor and associate pastor in New Mexico, California, Washington State, Oregon, Colorado, and Arizona. He also served many years as a chaplain, first with the Newman Center at the University of California Riverside, where he provided a Catholic presence in the college environment and engaged students in their spiritual journey – and later at the California Rehabilitation Center in Riverside County, providing spiritual care for the incarcerated.

Two members of St. John the Baptist Province have died – Humbert Moster, OFM, and Miles Pfalzer, OFM.

Humbert died on June 1 at the age of 90 at Holy Family Friary, located in his native Oldenburg, Indiana. He spent most of his 60 years in Franciscan life in parish ministry in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. A skilled carpenter, he was known to remodel, rebuild and restore the churches and friaries where he lived, according to friars who knew him. He also served as a hospital chaplain in Louisiana and Kentucky, and as a missionary in Savanna-la-Mar, Jamaica.

Miles, 99, died on June 3, just two days before his 100th birthday, at the St. Margaret Hall skilled nursing facility in Cincinnati, Ohio. An article published last month on the SJB province website titled “Sharing His Wit and Wisdom,” described his humor, upbeat attitude, and long life as a Franciscan friar. A native of Louisville, Kentucky, he served in ministry domestically and abroad, including the Philippines, Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and Easton, Pennsylvania.

Sr. Anne Dorice DeFebbo, 72, died in Assisi House in Aston, Pennsylvania, on May 18. After earning her R.N., and later a bachelor of science degree in nursing and a master of science in medical-surgical nursing, she ministered primarily in healthcare during her 48 years as a professed member of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia. This included four years serving as a staff nurse, and later as head nurse, in the ICU department at St. Francis Hospital in the Diocese of Wilmington in Delaware, and nine years as an instructor at St. Joseph Hospital School of Nursing in Baltimore, Maryland. She also served in pastoral, parish, and social service ministries.

Sr. Araceli Revuelta Arias, OP, a member of the Dominican Sisters of the Holy Rosary in La Paz, Bolivia, died on May 22. She was 98 years old. Beloved by Franciscan missioners, she spent nearly two-thirds of her religious life working at Holy Name Province’s mission in Bolivia. Her six decades of mission service and advancement of the ideals and values of St. Francis of Assisi was acknowledged in 2019, when she was the recipient of HNP’s Francis Medal at a special July 4 Mass at the Basilica of San Francisco in La Paz. A registered nurse, she served as director of St. Anthony’s Medical Center at St. Francis of Assisi Basilica, also in La Paz, until her death. She also traveled by truck, mule, and foot to provide healthcare to thousands of families in 260 rural communities. She looked after many of HNP friars who have served in Bolivia.

Sr. Ann Patrick Boddie, FMSC, 83, died on May 28 in her native Peekskill, New York. One of 14 children, she entered the Franciscan Sisters of Peekskill in 1956. Although she spent her entire religious life in education ministry, teaching at elementary schools in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, she also was involved in outreach ministry, served as director of Villa St. Francis – residential independent living for senior women in Peekskill – and was the local superior of the congregation’s Mt. St. Francis Motherhouse.

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