News Briefs About Special Ministry Activities of HNP Friars

Jocelyn Thomas Friar News

NEW YORK — Below are updates about some of the many activities of Holy Name friars, including their presentations, outreach and celebrations. More information can be obtained by visiting links to the parishes and organizations mentioned, by contacting the friars by phone or e-mail, and by connecting with the Communications Office.

To provide news briefs for future issues of HNP Today, e-mail communications director Jocelyn Thomas at

William Beaudin, OFM, spoke at a May 4 gathering of priests at St. Francis of Assisi Church in New York City, part of the annual Cardinal Bernardin series for priests of the Archdiocese of New York.

William Fitzgerald, OFM, reports that Quam Bonum, Falmouth, Mass., is closed for a private retreat from May 31 to June 8 and will reopen on June 9. The Franciscan Friary in Margate, N.J., will be closed May 29 to June 1 for a celebration of the ordination anniversary of Boniface Hanley, OFM.

A Year for Priests Celebration is being held May 23 at St. Stephen of Hungary Church in New York City, where Angelus Gambatese, OFM, is pastor. According to the parish bulletin, the special 10:15 a.m. Mass and brunch will be an opportunity to recognize “the many blessings that priests have brought to the parish through their dedicated service over the years.” Those planning to attend are asked to RSVP to the parish office (212-861-8500) by May 17.

The community garden of St. Anthony of Padua Church, Camden, N.J., was rededicated last week as “Br. Jerry’s Garden” in memory of Gerald Hudson, OFM, who died in March. More than 80 people attended the event on May 6, Gerald’s birthday, to pray the rosary in memory of Jerry and to watch the erection of a new sign, made by the Franciscan Volunteer Ministry. Photos of the event can be found on the website of the parish, where Jud Weiksnar, OFM, is pastor.

The annual Venant Lalonde, OFM, award — Spirit of the Sea — was presented April 23 in Tampa, Fla. The award was created in recognition of the friar’s humanitarian service to the maritime community, according to the website of the Council of American Master Mariners. A recent e-newsletter of CAMM describes the organization. Venant lives at St. Anthony Friary in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Aubrey McNeil, OFM, who is commemorating 25 years as a priest this year, was featured recently in two South Carolina newspapers, the Anderson Independent and The Catholic Miscellany. Links to both articles are available through the News & Events page of the website of St. Mary of the Angels Parish, Anderson, S.C., where Aubrey is pastor, and on the Province’s Communications page.

Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, presided at the May 9 renewal of simple vows of seven friars at Holy Name College, Silver Spring, Md. Francis Di Spigno, OFM, the Province’s director of post-novitiate formation, served as lector for the service. Photos of the event have been posted on Be A Franciscan, the Facebook page of the Province’s Vocation Ministry.

Mark Reamer, OFM, and the other friars of St. Francis of Assisi Church, Raleigh, N.C., welcomed parishioners on April 28 for a discussion of the Vatican’s response to the “recent news about abuse of minors by clergy in Europe.” It was, according to a letter by Mark in the April 25 parish bulletin, an opportunity for participants to “listen to one another and express our concerns for this Roman Catholic Church that we love and is so much a part of the fabric of our lives.” Mark published in the April 18 bulletin his “thoughts on the topic as expressed through my Easter homily.”  The parish’s website also provides a link to comments about clergy sexual abuse from a Vatican spokesperson.

Daniel Riley, OFM, of Mt. Irenaeus Franciscan Mountain Retreat returned home to Western New York last month from his sabbatical. Information about Dan’s time away is available through the Facebook group “Follow Fr. Dan Riley on his sabbatical.”

Paul Santoro, OFM, remembers fondly his time at Paterson Catholic High School, which will be closing next month. He is one of several friars, including Edward Higgins, OFM, who worked at Paterson Catholic through the years. The Diocese of Paterson, N.J., announced the school’s closing on April 14.

Xavier Seubert, OFM, spoke on May 8 at The Cloisters of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Vocation director Brian Smail, OFM, presented information to friars who attended the last two HNP Fraternal Gatherings this week in Silver Spring, Md., and Wilmington, Del. He provided descriptions of the Vocation Office’s goals and projects, highlighting the Life Shift video, a key component of all the 2010 regional days. Brian reported on the office’s website enhancements and use of Facebook for drawing younger men to the Province. Additionally, he encouraged the friars to use the HNP Vocation Handbook as the subject of a house chapter, since all fraternal life plans must have a vocation promotion component. “It has been a wonderful experience to connect with friars I don’t see often and share what I do for my ministry,” he said. “I am deeply touched by how very supportive and affirming the friars have been to me.”

Robert Struzynski, OFM, of Mt. Irenaeus took nine St. Bonaventure University student groups to two prisons in Western New York during the spring semester. They went to Attica Correctional Facility and to Gowanda Correctional Facility on service learning trips. The listening done by the students helps men “in the healing process of the tragedy resulting from a bad decision,” Robert said in a recent SBU news release.

Christopher VanHaight, OFM, reported that on April 18, St. Bonaventure Church, Paterson, N.J., joined with the Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Committee of Holy Angels Church of Little Falls, N.J. — a parish formerly staffed by HNP friars — to co-sponsor “A Multicultural Experience of the Sacred in Art and Music.” This afternoon event drew more than 50 people to celebrate the diversity “of our Catholic community through prayer, music and art,” Christopher said. Ivannia Vega-McTighe, a doctoral candidate in art history at Rutgers University, presented an array of multicultural images of Jesus and Mary, discussing the ways in which various cultures express their faith through art. The music included a live performance of both classical and modern piano works by Patricio Molina, a student at the Manhattan School of Music, as well as the singing of traditional Brazilian hymns by a choir made up of Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception.

James Vacco, OFM, of St. Bonaventure University is leaving May 17 for Sydney, Australia, where he will live and minister until Aug.1. James will be assisting at the parish of Holy Spirit Province, the Australian OFM province which is composed of two worship sites and a third site, which James said “may be a housing complex.” He will be giving the parish friars an “added friar presence in the parish and assuming many parish-based duties,” said Jim, who spent five weeks in Brisbane last year. He said he is looking forward to “this time getting to know another group of friars and to experience the Church in Australia through the parish.”

Friars gathered on April 30 at St. Anthony Shrine, Boston, to honor Flavian Walsh, OFM, for his 80th birthday. The recreation room was decorated with birthday wishes sent from friars in the Province who were unable to attend the celebration and slides of Flavian, said John Maganzini, OFM. Guardian David Convertino, OFM, hosted a “roast” that included a song to the tune of “For All The Saints.” Daniel Horan, OFM, of Silver Spring, Md., played the organ and a group of friars sang. After David’s speech, friars shared stories about Flavian and dined on Asian delicacies prepared by the kitchen staff in honor of Flavian’s many years in Japan. Guests who traveled to Boston included Richard Biasiotto, OFM, of Loudonville, N.Y., Anthony Carrozzo, OFM, of New York, Ronald Stark, OFM, of Maryland, and student friars Frank Critch, OFM, Cidouane Joseph, OFM, and Erick Lopez, OFM. A photo of the celebration, taken by Barry Langley, OFM, was sent to the HNP Communications Office.

— Compiled by Jocelyn Thomas, who reminds readers that submissions for the newsletter are due the Wednesday before each issue is published.