Mt. Irenaeus Hires First Executive Director

Jocelyn Thomas Around the Province

WEST CLARKSVILLE, N.Y. — The Franciscan Mountain Retreat in Western New York announced last week that it has hired an executive director to provide vision and strategic planning. St. Bonaventure University alumnus Michael Fenn began his job as Mt. Irenaeus’ first executive director earlier this month, aiming to strengthen the Mountain way of life for generations to come.

Fenn will work alongside Daniel Riley, OFM, president and founder/animator, and Kevin Kriso, OFM, director of ministries and guardian of Holy Peace Friary, to form the Mountain’s leadership team.

“After a long period of searching for prospects, followed by a comprehensive interview process of multiple candidates, we are delighted to have Mike join our ministry and management team,” said Dan in an announcement by Mt. Irenaeus. “He brings the richness of his family life and exceptional career working in leadership within dynamic organizations. Having just completed our spring convocation, stakeholders from near and far have already experienced Mike’s collaborative approach toward working with others in the effort of meeting our strategic objectives.”

Fenn has been involved with Mt. Irenaeus for nearly 30 years since discovering the Franciscan sanctuary while a student at St. Bonaventure, roughly 20 miles west. He lived in community with the friars during the summers of 1990 and 1991 and in 2007 was invited to join the Mountain’s Board of Trustees, eventually taking the role of chair in 2014.

At Mt. Irenaeus’ spring convocation on April 30, Fenn, who lives in Buffalo, gave a reflection and led a discussion about strategic planning. A video of the new executive director and his wife Julie being blessed at the chapel was recorded. 

After working in the corporate world for 24 years, Fenn began to recognize the need for a dramatic change in his professional life, according to the announcement posted on the Mountain’s Facebook page.

“The friars have had an incredible impact on my life,” he said. “I have a passion to ensure the commitment they have made for the past few decades does not disappear.”

The role of executive director is “critical in sustaining the manner of life and ministry, articulating its message and developing resources to support strategic efforts for generations to come,” said Mt. Irenaeus in an announcement on its website.

Working with Fenn and the leadership team of the Mountain, which last year marked its 30th anniversary, are the friars in residence — Joseph Kotula, OFM, and Louis McCormick, OFM — and Mary Giardini, Michelle Marcellin, and Mary Schlosser. Continuing in his role as treasurer and mentor during the transition is Mike Kasperski. Diane Kuzia-Hills was elected chair of the board of trustees at its April 30 meeting.

Earlier this year, in an essay titled “Foundation Built in Western New York,” Fenn wrote, “I often say there is no one who has gotten more from the Mountain than me over these past 30 years, and now I have a passion to ensure that the Mountain continues for years to come.”

— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.

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