Friar News Briefs

Jocelyn Thomas Friar News

The updates below feature many activities of Holy Name friars, including their celebrations, presentations, and ministry events. For more information, visit links to the parishes and organizations mentioned, contact the friars by phone or email, or connect with the HNP Communications Office.

To provide news briefs for future issues of HNP Today, email information to communications director Jocelyn Thomas at

John Alderson, OFM, chaplain of Bishop Timon-St. Jude High School, attended the Buffalo school’s Kaleidoscope dinner and auction on May 17, the most successful event to date. “I sincerely appreciate the sponsorship and support of Holy Name Province over the lifetime of this event,” said Kevin McLaughlin, ’79, chief operating officer. “With your partnership, we have been able to provide more than $1 million in tuition assistance to hundreds of young men at Timon.”

St. Camillus Parish in Silver Spring, Md., held its 30th annual parish festival honoring Mother Mary on May 10. A note in the bulletin remarked that the community was “grateful for the presence this year of Martin Bednar, OFM,who along with this year’s grand marshal, Mary Elizabeth Anderson, founded our Marian Parish Festival 30 years ago.”

The Archdiocese of New York has recommended that St. Stephen of Hungary Parish in New York City be consolidated with the faith communities of St. Elizabeth of Hungary and St. Monica’s, with a possible new name at the site of the current St. Monica Parish. Additional worship — weekend Masses, occasional weddings and funerals — will be held at St. Stephen’s, with evaluations by the Archdiocese every two years. “It is important to remember at this time that nothing has been decided and the final decision will be made by His Eminence Cardinal Timothy Dolan,” said William Bried, OFM, administrator of St. Stephen’s, in the May 18 bulletin. Further announcements are expected in September. The Province announced its withdrawal from St. Stephen’s earlier this year.

Peter Chepaitis, OFM, of Middleburgh, N.Y., has added his homilies for the weekends of May 17 and 24 to the Bethany Ministries website. “You can find them under Resources – Sunday Homilies,” said the Middleburgh, N.Y., resident.

David Convertino, OFM, led a Franciscan Challenge at Assumption Parish, Wood-Ridge, N.J., the weekend of May 17. It is one of a series of fundraising events organized and held by the HNP Development Office since fall 2012.

The Congress of Peru recently honored Mariano Gagnon, OFM, in recognition of his work as a missionary. “Many referred to Mariano as a modern-day hero for his work during the time of terrorism in the Peruvian Amazon,” said Anthony Wilson, OFM.The May 8 ceremony was presided by Congressman Juan Castignino Lema in the Congressional Palace. Included in a photo that Anthony provided are Anthony; P. Mauro Vallejo, provincial of the St. Francis Solano Province, Peru; Matias Miranda and his wife, Olga Capitan; Ashaninka natives who have known Mariano for years; Congressman Castignino; Mariano; Bishop Gerardo Zerdin of San Ramon, where Mariano is currently serving; Fr. Eduardo Arens, the Marianist priest who initiated the proposal for the award; and Astrid Montagne de Ananada, who spoke at the ceremony.

John Hogan, OFM, was quoted in the May 16 issue of Immaculate Conception Province’s e-newsletter about a recent joint gathering that friars of St. Anthony Shrine, Boston, attended at IC Province’s St. Leonard Church in Boston. “A big thank you to all the friars for a memorable gathering and delicious pranzo! We friars from Arch Street had a great time and enjoyed your warm hospitality. Joe Powell’s reflection was a special and inspiring part of our gathering! What a talented and authentic young friar!” said John, guardian at Arch Street. The event was held as follow-up to a gathering at St. Anthony Shrine last fall at which friars of IC Province were included. John Maganzini, OFM, vicar of the shrine, appeared in a photo in the IC newsletter. 

Last week, Daniel Horan, OFM, participated in a Merton Scholars retreat at the Abbey of Gethsemani near Louisville, Ky. Next month, he will speak at the Merton Conference at St. Bonaventure University.

After completing a year of studies for a master’s in divinity degree at the Franciscan School of Theology in Berkeley, Calif., Edgardo Jara, OFM, shared information and photos about his recent activities. His updates included news about his ministry to the Hispanic community at St. Elizabeth Parish in Oakland, Calif., where he gave talks and retreats to parents who have children in catechesis and retreats to children in catechesis. Edgardo renewed his vows at St Elizabeth Friary before Provincial Minister Fr. John Hardin, OFM, of St. Barbara Province, and on May 14, was installed in the Ministry of Acolyte.

Brian Jordan, OFM, chaplain of St. Francis College, Brooklyn, N.Y., presided at St. Anthony Shrine’s Blue Mass for National Law Enforcement Week on May 15. Representatives from many Massachusetts law enforcement agencies attended the Mass and reception at the shrine on Arch Street in Boston. Photos were posted on the shrine’s website. On May 14, a photo of Brian appeared on the front page of USA Today. He was quoted in the accompanying article, titled “9/11 Museum’s Symbol Shows Unbroken Spirit,” about the significance of the cross made of steel I-beams found at the World Trade Center following Sept. 11. Brian said Mass at the foot of the cross for emergency workers, recovery crews and victims’ families for months following the attacks.

Stephen Kluge, OFM, celebrated the golden jubilee Mass for the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, N.Y., last week. Those celebrating their 50th anniversaries include Sisters Barbara Bartkowiak, OSF, Patricia Klemm, OSF, Sharon O’Neil, OSF, and Ann Wachter, OSF. Photos from the jubilee celebration are available on Facebook.

Friars and their partners-in-ministry are encouraged to review and utilize resources for the ongoing Franciscan Holy Land Peacemaking Campaign. Located in the Justice and Peace section of the HNP website, the resources include a reflection about the division in the Holy Land by Robert Lentz, OFM, who recently traveled there, as well as a video illustrating the plight of Palestinian Christians and a bulletin announcement to promote the video, and a story of successful peacemaking in the Holy Land. Franciscan-spirited people are also encouraged to contact Secretary of State John Kerry to investigate the situation in the Middle East through an initiative organized by the Churches for Middle East Peace regarding the recent illegal destruction at the Tent of Nations. On May 29, Russ Testa, director of the Province’s JPIC Office, is delivering to Ambassador Martin Indyk in Washington, D.C., a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry from Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM. The document expresses the Province’s alarm by recent actions taken by the Israeli Military Courts against the Nassar family and their Tent of Nations Peace Project. Testa, chair of the CMEP board, will meet with representatives from other religious organizations regarding the destructive action and the desire by the Franciscans to promote non-violence, peace and reconciliation among Christians, Jews and Muslims.

Kevin Mackin, OFM, appeared in a news clip last week of TV journalist Rosanna Scotto receiving an honorary degree from Mount Saint Mary College, Newburgh, N.Y., where Kevin is president.

Daniel McLellan, OFM, chair of the HNP Chapter Planning Committee, encourages friars to arrive at the Siena College campus on Sunday for the formal convocation of the 2014 Chapter. Monday’s schedule includes an address by General Minister Fr. Michael Perry, OFM, and a report by General Visitor Fr. Melvin Jurisich, OFM. On Tuesday, attendees will hear a report from Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, and then participate in discussions on fraternity in mission and realignment. Elections for the next Provincial Minister will be held Wednesday, with elections for Provincial Vicar and Council members following on Thursday.

Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, visited with the Poor Clares in Travelers Rest, S.C., earlier this month. Sr. Sharon Ratteree, OSF, sent a photo of John with the sisters, who are part of a monastery affiliated with the Province. “We enjoyed having Fr. John here,” Sr. Sharon said. “We had a nice chat in the community room.” Every week, David Phan, OFM, and Patrick Tuttle, OFM, come to celebrate Mass for the sisters.

Ronald Pecci, OFM, director of the Province’s postulancy program, announced four postulants have been accepted for admittance into the novitiate: Daniel Beckham, Abel Garcia, Javier Del Angel De Los Santos andChristian Seno. After completing a summer school program at St. Bonaventure University, they will be received on Aug. 15 at the Interprovincial Novitiate in Burlington, Wis. Deivis Daza Noya will continue his postulancy for another year.

On May 11, Mark Reamer, OFM, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Raleigh, N.C., graduated from Duke University in nearby Durham with a doctorate in pastoral leadership. He provided a photo from the hooding ceremony in Duke Chapel. On Mark’s left is Kori Robbins, Duke registrar, and Dr. Sujin Pak, associate dean of the divinity school. Mark is shaking hands with his advisor, Bishop William Willimon. On his right is Rev. Dr. Richard Hayes, dean of Duke’s divinity school. “The topic of my dissertation was ‘Breaking New Ground: Pastoral Leadership in the Roman Catholic Church Through the Lens of Bowen Systems Theory,’” Mark said.

In the May 2014 issue of the Mt. Irenaeus newsletter, Daniel Riley, OFM, reflects on the new life of spring as the Franciscan Mountain Retreat marks its 30th anniversary this year. The publication provides information about upcoming events, including the June 19 to 22 Thomas Merton Conference at St. Bonaventure University.

On May 1, Robert Sandoz, OFM, president, and Gregory Gebbia, OFM, principal, of Christ the King Preparatory School in Newark, N.J., inducted the first set of students into Christ the King Prep’s chapter of the National Honor Society. The installation of nine seniors and 12 juniors indicates Christ the King’s continued emphasis on excellence, according to a recent issue of the school’s e-newsletter.

Xavier Seubert, OFM, will present two lectures at The Cloisters of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City next month. Details about the June 28 and Aug. 30 events can be found on the website of St. Francis of Assisi Parish, West 31st Street, where Xavier is director of adult education.

Vocation director Brian Smail, OFM, reports that the Province has accepted one man into the 2014-15 postulant group. “Three more will be reviewed by the board of admissions next week,” Brian said, “and a fifth is in the application process now. We are looking at a very likely class of five.”

Christopher VanHaight, OFM, pastor of St. Bonaventure Parish, Paterson, N.J., led a group of parishioners in a parade marking the 100th anniversary of a neighboring town. “Woodland Park is within the territorial boundaries of the parish, so we wanted to make sure we were visible,” Chris said. “It was great to see so many of our parishioners cheering us along the parade route.” St. Bonaventure Church was founded in 1878, 36 years before Woodland Park, formerly known as West Paterson, was incorporated. Photos from the parade are available on the parish’s Facebook.

Jud Weiksnar, OFM, pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Parish, said recently: “In Camden, wonderful things are happening.” In a parish publication, whose tagline is “Building the City of God in Camden,” Jud said, “Gardens grow, people are healed and new leaders are being formed, thanks to the ministries of St. Anthony’s. In this newsletter, you will find just three of those ministries featured: Francis House, Br. Jerry’s Garden and Camden Churches Organized for People. There is much more we could tell you about, including our pastoral, educational and sacramental ministries. You can find those and much more described on our website.”

Paul Williams, OFM, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Wilmington, Del, was named director of the diocese’s Ministry for Black Catholics. Bishop Francis Malooly named Paul to the post on May 5, four months after the death of Preston Taylor who ran the office for five years. “Getting a current count on the number of black Catholics in the Wilmington diocese is one of the short-term goals in this new diocesan post,” Paul said in a story published May 16 in The Dialog. “The planned census will include not just African Americans, but also black Catholics from the Caribbean countries, Africa and South America who now live in the diocese.” St. Joseph’s, traditionally a black parish in Wilmington, was founded 125 years ago by the Josephite Fathers, who left the parish in 1993, when the diocese entrusted its ministry to Holy Name Province. Paul says while there are about 300 families in the parish now and about 75 percent of its members are black Catholics, “nobody lives in the neighborhood. They come from throughout the city.” Paul has been stationed in Wilmington since spring 2013.

News for the next issue of HNP Today is requested by June 4, always the Wednesday before the newsletter’s publication. Updates about the friars and their ministries can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Topics planned for future issues include:

  • Summary of the Provincial Chapter
  • Profiles of friars marking 25 years of profession
  • Update about schools affiliated with HNP parishes

 Compiled by Jocelyn Thomas