This is the eighth in a series of profiles of HNP friars commemorating anniversaries of Franciscan profession in 2016. They will be honored by the Province at a special Mass on June 23. The previous issue of HNP Today featured Kevin Tortorelli, OFM.
BUTLER, N.J. — When he was born in 1955, doctors predicted that Patrick Fereday, OFM, would not live past six months. The congenital defect with which he was born — spina bifida — often causes paralysis and mental disabilities. Because he was not expected to live at birth, Patrick was immediately baptized and his sponsors were a priest and a nun who worked at the hospital. Shortly after his birth, he was taken to the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., and was the first baby at this hospital to receive life-saving meningocele surgery.
Beating the odds, Patrick is celebrating 25 years as a friar this year and is currently the director of maintenance at St. Anthony Friary and Church in Butler. Always willing and ready to help, he has spent his ministry serving his fellow friars.
Raised in Waterloo, Iowa, Patrick is the youngest of four children born to the late June and Thomas Fereday. He grew up in a traditional Catholic family, participating in parish life and attending Catholic elementary and high schools.
Patrick always enjoyed helping people, he said, and originally planned to become a missionary. Following high school, he entered the Society of the Divine Word missionary order and began studying at Divine Word College in Epworth, Iowa.
But this was not meant to be. In the middle of his junior year, Patrick transferred to Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in theology and a minor in philosophy.
After college, Patrick joined the family business of real estate management. During this time, he learned maintenance skills including painting, plumbing and electrical repair. These were already familiar jobs to him, since he had worked alongside his father fixing apartments when he was a young boy.
After managing the business for five years, Patrick moved south and began working for a company called American Diversified, also in the area of property management. Despite success at this company, when he was in his early 30s, he realized he was still being called to religious life.
His boss offered him a raise and more vacation time to persuade him to stay on the job, but Patrick realized that he wanted to work with the poor. He joined the prenovitiate program of the Glenmary Home Missioners, a religious society dedicated to establishing a Catholic presence in rural areas and small towns of the United States. Patrick’s experience included working on a Glenmary farm in Kentucky, and later at a Glenmary parish in Russellville, Ala.
One year later, he entered the novitiate and began building houses in Appalachia. While he enjoyed the work, he was somewhat isolated and saw fellow novices only once a month.
“Something was missing,” he said. “I knew I wanted to live in community.”
Patrick decided to leave the Glenmary Home Missioners and was introduced to Holy Name Province by his novice master. Required to wait a year before joining the Province, Patrick stayed in Alabama and worked at a convenience store. Although over-qualified, Patrick asked to be paid the minimum wage so he could learn to better relate to the struggles of the poor.
He continued his ministry of service by working at the county jail. Patrick describes one of the most rewarding aspects of this ministry as securing expired snacks and desserts from vendors and delivering them to grateful prison inmates.
Becoming a Franciscan
In 1989, Patrick joined Holy Name Province as an affiliate (postulant), and after his novitiate year, he professed first vows in 1991. Since he already had a degree in theology, he studied boiler maintenance, air conditioning repair and woodworking, and helped take care of Holy Name College in Silver Spring, Md., during his formation. From 1994 to 1995, he interned at St. Francis Parish on Long Beach Island, N.J., serving as director of buildings and grounds. He continued in this role following his solemn profession in 1995 at St. Anne Church in Fair Lawn, N.J.
In July 1996, he was assigned to St. Anthony Friary in Butler, as director of maintenance for the friary and church. When he began, work included home repairs for elderly residents in the parish, maintaining the Province vacation house in Margate, N.J., and working at the retirement house in Butler. Once a month, he would travel south to Holy Name College to oversee maintenance tasks there on a part-time basis.
In 2005, his role evolved into working full time at the retirement friary and parish in Butler. Patrick still lives at the parish friary.
“My main role has been serving my brothers — the friars here at the retirement house. I have always felt it was an honor and privilege to serve them,” Patrick said. “These men have dedicated their entire lives to spreading the Gospel and what I try to do is make sure they have a comfortable and safe place for their retirement.”
In addition to serving in Butler, Patrick has lent his expertise to other remodeling projects around the Province, including ministries in Philadelphia, Silver Spring, Md., and Buffalo and the Bronx, N.Y.
Gifts of Community
Patrick is proud of and grateful for Holy Name Province’s unique sense of community.
“There is acceptance of each other as who we are and where we are coming from and our different gifts and talents. We don’t fit into a norm. We do so many things and together we form community,” he said.
Friars who have been particularly influential in his life, Patrick said, include Peter Ahlheim, OFM, Christopher Coccia, OFM, and Thomas Hartle, OFM.
“Christopher and Peter worked in maintenance and have taught me a great deal — not only about maintenance but about living in community and taking pride in what you do,” he said. “Tom, as guardian of the parish friary, taught me what true community means.”
Even though he works six days a week and is always on call, Patrick occasionally finds time to garden and to work in the yard.
— Karen Karaszewski is a freelance writer based in Western New York.
- “Jubilee Celebration Set for June 23” — March 4, 2016, HNP Today
- “Newly Renovated St. Anthony Friar in North Jersey” — Feb. 6, 2008, HNP Today
- “LBI’s St Francis of Assisi Church Reopens Following Hurricane Sandy” — Sept. 2, 2016, HNP Today