New Jersey Parishes Celebrate Spirit of St. Francis

Jocelyn Thomas Around the Province

PATERSON, N.J. — Four New Jersey parishes joined with other ministries in celebrating the Franciscan charism and history of the Order for Francis Week.

Events at St. Bonaventure Church in Paterson began with a pasta dinner and a presentation on The Spirituality of Creation of Sts. Francis & Clare of Assisi by Peter Chepaitis, OFM, and Sr. Anna Tantsits, IHM, of Bethany Ministries. Using prayer, drama, narrative, music, and puppetry, Peter and Sr. Anna entertained the crowd of more than 100 parishioners with their presentation on Francis and Clare, according to Christopher VanHaight, OFM, of Paterson.

In addition to weekend Masses dedicated to St Francis, a moving candle-lit Transitus Service was celebrated on Saturday evening. Featured was a performance by John Fanelli of his musical arrangement of the “Canticle of the Creatures.” Fanelli is well known to friars involved in the early years of Siena College, Christopher said.

On Sunday, “all of God’s creatures praised God during the annual blessing of animals, when dozens pets gathered in the new prayer garden for a joy-filled event,” said Christopher. A ministry fair was held all weekend, giving parishioners the opportunity to sign up for St. Bonaventure’s many ministries. 

“With pages and pages of new volunteers signed up, the ministry fair displayed the vibrancy of our parish as we gathered to celebrate our Franciscan spirit,” said Christopher.

Brown Sunday
In nearby Fair Lawn, N.J, Jeremiah McGinley, OFM, from Butler, N.J., and several other friars, commemorated the feast of St. Francis at St. Anne’s Parish, where Oct 4 was designated “Brown Sunday.” Fr. Joe Doyle and Fr. Colin Kay invited the friars to preach at all the Masses. Jeremiah, a frequent assistant at St. Anne’s, and John Leonard, OFM, and Thomas Kelly, OFM, former associates, celebrated the Masses. The Province staffed St. Anne’s until 2004.

Parishioners were asked to wear brown clothing, and brown banners were hung at the church entrances. A plaque was dedicated, acknowledging the 95 years of Franciscan ministry and services to the parish.

Celebrating Transitus
The friars of Assumption Parish in Wood-Ridge, N.J., and St. Joseph Church in East Rutherford, N.J., commemorated the Transitus together at St. Joseph, where Kevin Daly, OFM, is pastor. Each year, the location alternates, according to Thomas.

At Assumption Parish, where Brian Cullinane, OFM, is pastor, the friars offered a pet blessing among other events.

 Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.