News Briefs About Special Activities of HNP Friars

Jocelyn Thomas Friar News

Below are updates about some of the many activities of Holy Name friars, including their celebrations, presentations and ministry events. More information can be obtained by visiting links to the parishes and organizations mentioned, by contacting the friars by phone or email, and by connecting with the HNP Communications Office.

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

Paul Breslin, OFM, participated in the immigration reform card signing initiative sponsored by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Justice for Immigrants campaign. It was held Aug. 10 and 11 at St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Triangle, Va., where Paul is stationed. The focus was to reach out to three specific representatives, said Rob Goraieb, the parish’s coordinator of Franciscan action and advocacy, who said “in addition to the JFI cards, we will also deliver personalized letters that the Provincial leaders of the Franciscan frirars in the U.S. created.” 

Casey Cole, OFM, has begun writing posts on his blog Breaking in the Habit after a year hiatus, while he was stationed at the Franciscan Interprovincial Novitiate in Burlington, Wis. His post about the simple profession was shared on the Be a Franciscan blog.

David Convertino, OFM, was interviewed earlier this month by Catholic News Agency about the feast of the Porziuncola on Aug. 2. The small chapel, located inside the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli near Assisi, Italy, reminds David of the relationship between the world-wide Catholic Church and the smaller communities which are part of it. “You have this large basilica built over this teeny tiny little chapel,” he said. “If that chapel wasn’t there, then the basilica wouldn’t be there, but if the basilica wasn’t there, the chapel probably wouldn’t be there either, given 800 years of war, weather and turmoil.”

Kevin Cronin, OFM, of the HNP Ministry of the Word, reports that the summer months have been “great” for him. He said he has been helping out in different parishes, and recently spent two weeks in East Meadow on Long Island. “I am spending my first two weeks of August at St. Agnes Cathedral, Rockville Centre, where I celebrated the morning Telecare Mass for RVC several times,” he said. “This is the home parish of the families of John O’Connor, OFM, Brian Jordan, OFM, and Richard McFeely, OFM.” During the last two weeks of August, “I will take the pastor’s place in Long Beach, L.I., so he can get away. It is a very difficult assignment, one block from the boardwalk, Long Beach, and the Atlantic Ocean… but somebody has to do it!” he quipped. Kevin has done missions at both parishes over the years and said: “It’s great to be back with these good people.”

A photo of Francis Di Spigno, OFM, executive vice president of university ministries at St. Bonaventure University, Allegany, N.Y., appears in the school’s summer 2013 alumni e-newsletter in an announcement about a yard sale held reunion weekend in June that raised money for SBU’s Warming House.

An article about Bede Fitzpatrick, OFM, was published in the Aug. 5 edition of the National Catholic Register. The featured, titled “Mission Accomplished: Iwo Jima Veteran Who Became a Franciscan Missionary Comes Home” describes Bede’s 55 years in Japan and his life before joining the Order. The 91-year-old Western New York Native retired Aug. 1 and will be moving soon to Butler, N.J.

Gregory Gebbia, OFM, has been appointed principal of Christ the King Preparatory School in Newark, N.J. The announcement was made on Aug. 12 by Robert Sandoz, OFM, president of the school, where both he and Gregory have worked since 2009.

Gerald Hopeck, OFM, of Silver Spring, Md., attended the July 20 to 24 Extraordinary Educators Conference in Chicago, where he gave a presentation on how to develop an atmosphere of welcome for students, faculty and parents in a multi-cultural school. Jennifer Loftus and Ashley Gordy, both teachers at St. Francis International School, attended the conference with Gerald, who was appointed on July 1 as the school’s co-principal by the Archdiocese of Washington’s Catholic School Office. For several years, Gerald has served as assistant principal of SFIS, which is located on the grounds of St. Camillus Church.

Daniel Horan, OFM, recently had an article published in The Merton Annual 25 (2012): 177-196 titled “No Spouse is an Island: Thomas Merton’s Contribution Toward a Contemporary Spirituality of Marriage.” The scholarly journal is available for purchase online. An article by Dan titled “A Rahnerian Theological Response to Charles Taylor’s ‘A Secular Age'” was published in New Blackfriars. The full article in the British theological journal is available online in the “early view” section. The print edition is forthcoming within the year.

Julian Jagudilla, OFM, was introduced to the community of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in New York City with an announcement in the Aug. 4 bulletin. After serving for the past two years in Wood–Ridge, N.J., Julian is beginning his role as director of the parish’s immigration center this month.

Vianney Justin, OFM, of Buffalo, N.Y., says that the death of Maurice Swartout, OFM, last month has left a void for him and for the friars of St. Patrick Friary. In an email to a friend, that Council member Joseph Nangle,OFM, suggested publishing because “it is a wonderful tribute from one friar about another,” Vianney said: “Moe’s passing leaves a big hole in my life and in the friary as well. I was with him seven years in East Boston and 11 years here in Buffalo. He took me in as I left the mental hospital. He used to drive me to the shrink when I couldn’t remember the way because I was on so much medication. The people in both communities loved him. Now I go on from here. It will be a new adventure. Moe and I used to have breakfast together. I would pick on him and make fun of him. I can’t do that anymore. The people want to know if we friars will continue what Moe used to do.Timothy Dauenhaeur, OFM, is 80, John Alderson, OFM, is 78, I’m 70, Francis Pompei, OFM, is 68 and Steven Pavignano, OFM, is 64. We aren’t teenagers anymore. Moe and his goodness will be missed. So, I need your prayers and our friar community does as well. I used to call Moe ‘Mother Founderess’ because he would keep us all under his wings.”

Provincial Vicar Dominic Monti, OFM, participated in a “gathering day” of the Franciscan Sisters of Philadelphia last week in Aston, Pa. He gave a talk titled “Vatican II: a Franciscan Perspective” to the roughly 150 sisters who attended. This week, he is in Chicago for a meeting of the Interprovincial Commission before heading to Burlington, Wis., for the reception of the new novices.

Christopher Posch, OFM, chair of the HNP Hispanic Ministry Committee, reports that the Province’s vocation retreat being planned for the end of August “is filled to capacity with 20 candidates.” In addition to Chris, the Spanish vocation retreat team comprises “Carlos Velasquez, SFO, from St. Camillus Parish, leader of Utopia Franciscana, the theatrical group that has presented at our two HNP Encuentros and various St. Camillus, Langley Park, and Washington region conferences, as well as Gonzalo Torres-Acosta, OFM, Juan Turcios, OFM, Mario Gómez, OFM, Edgardo Zea, OFM, George Camacho, OFM, Xavier de la Huerta, OFM, Emerson Rodríguez, OFM, Christopher VanHaight, OFM, and postulant Wilmer Garcia. In addition, Thomas Conway, OFM, and Holy Name College friars will be hosting us and preparing three meals for us on Aug. 31.”

Mark Reamer, OFM, gave a presentation yesterday at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., titled “Resilient Minister: Renewing Self, Renewing Ministry.” Information is available on the school’s website. Last month, he and the pastoral staff of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Raleigh, N.C., participated in the parish’s 13th annual pastoral staff retreat in July at the Trinity Center in Psalter Path, N.C. “Begun by Daniel Kenna, OFM, in 2000, the retreat is an opportunity for the staff to pray, play and build the body of Christ among each other. The topic was conversation, the first step on the way to evangelization, and catechesis with Fr. John Durbin, a priest of the diocese of Raleigh, presenting. Fr. John used the RCIA model as a way to encourage ongoing conversion within the parish. Last year, Francis Di Spigno, OFM, was our presenter and past presenters include David Convertino, OFM, and F. Edward Coughlin, OFM,” he said.

Joseph Rozansky, OFM, director of the Order’s Office for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, was quoted earlier this month in a National Catholic Reporter’s story titled “Religious Collaborate on Justice Issues” about the Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission. The piece describes the spring meeting that involved more than 100 men representing a variety of religious communities. “I think that people that have that kind of background come here… looking for something that’s pretty hands-on,” said Joe, speaking of the commission. He mentioned that many of the commission members have spent time for their orders abroad, where they were forced to confront injustice and social inequality.

James Sabak, OFM, presented a paper last week in Germany at a conference of Societas Liturgica, an international gathering of liturgical scholars and sacramental theologians. It occurs every two years and each conference has a particular liturgical/sacramental focus, he said. “I have been a member since 2007 when I joined at the conference in Palermo, Sicily. I have presented a paper at each conference since then — in Sydney, Australia, in 2009, and Reims, France, in 2011. This year’s conference, held Aug. 5 to 10, focused on the 50th anniversary of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy and took place in Würzburg, Germany — the location of the oldest extant Roman lectionary from the sixth century. I presented a paper on the debates that covered transitioning the liturgy to the vernacular in the 1940s and 1950s.”

Patrick Sieber, OFM, of Philadelphia, participated in a demonstration at the Lockheed Martin plant on Aug. 6, the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, to protest the making of weapons. He and five others were arrested as they attempted to deliver items to management after a commemoration that included music, bell-tolling, ceremony of memory and hope with incense, water, and ashes, and litany. Those arrested and released on disorderly conduct citation, said Patrick, included “my 93-year-old friend and police van companion, and a good friend of Thomas Ennis, OFM, Annie Geers of Media, Pa., as well as Paul Sheldon, of Media, Bernadette Cronin-Geller and Robert M. Smith of Philadelphia, and Tom Mullian of Wyncote, Pa.” Patrick continued: “We pray that they will close shop and build schools or hospitals. The money that Lockheed makes in a month could feed many of the kids in Camden, N.J., where I work and in the Kensington neighborhood where I live.” Lockheed Martin is the main contractor with the U.S. government for nuclear weapons.

Vocation director Brian Smail, OFM, wrote about his experience at this year’s World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in a recent post on the blog of the HNP Vocation Office, Be A Franciscan. “Looking back on those days in Rio de Janeiro, many impressions come to mind,” he said. “Witnessing the faith and enthusiasm of those millions of young people, I think the Church is very much alive and with a hopeful future. This event was clearly a manifestation of ‘faith without borders’ on a grand scale, people from all corners of the earth united in one faith in the universal church.” Brian is attending the reception of novices tomorrow at the Franciscan Interprovincial Novitiate in Burlington, Wis. Later this month, he will accept the Province’s new class of postulants which he expects to include eight men.

An American Catholic article about the feast of the Porziuncula by the late Robert Stewart, OFM, was publicized by St. Bonaventure University in an Aug. 2 email to alumni and friends of the university.

News for the next issue of HNP Today is requested by Aug. 21, always the Wednesday before the newsletter’s publication date. Updates about the friars and their ministries can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Topics planned for future issues of this newsletter include:
 reception of novices on Aug. 15
• Siena College’s endowment named for Peter Fiore, OFM
 commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington  
 a book by Xavier Seubert, OFM
            • observances of the anniversary of Sept. 11

— Compiled by Jocelyn Thomas