WILMINGTON, Del. — Four men were formally received last week as postulants in the Province’s program. The Aug. 26 ceremony at St. Paul Church here officially welcomed John Aherne, Pedro Coces, Frank Souza and Jeffrey Upshawthrough the Rite of Candidacy. They had already been in the postulant program for two months.
The ceremony was held in the context of Evening Prayer at St. Paul’s Friary, said Ronald Pecci, OFM, HNP postulant director. The friars in the community, including St. Paul pastor Todd Carpenter, OFM, were present, along with Provincial Vicar Dominic Monti, OFM, photographer Octavio Duran, OFM, and vocation director Brian Smail, OFM.
A Summer of Study at SBU
“We prayed the psalms, and had a reading from Scripture, the Rule and the Testament of St. Francis,” said Ronald, who spent the summer with the postulants at St. Bonaventure University, where they attended workshops about Franciscan life. During June and July, the postulants were involved in study at SBU’s Franciscan Institute. They attended workshops given by the friars on the life of St. Francis and early Franciscan history. The men also did informal study in the friary, and took a weeklong workshop on the documents of the Second Vatican Council. Following the SBU two-month course of study, they went to Mt. Ireneaus on retreat in early August.
After Dominic preached a brief homily during the Rite of Candidacy, he placed a Tau cross and said a blessing over each postulant.
The professed friars then offered a sign of peace, a fraternal embrace, to each postulant. “After our final prayers, we went into our dining room for dessert,” said Ronald. Musical accompaniment was provided by former Franciscan Volunteer Minister Christopher Calabrese, who now works at St Anthony Parish in Camden, N.J.
The new postulants represent four states: Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York.
Meet the Men
John Aherne, 37, grew up in Maspeth, Queens, N.Y. After earning a bachelor’s degree in English and anthropology from New York University, he was an editor at several publishing companies. John also ran a small dancing school prior to entering Holy Name Province. He got to know the friars by attending daily Mass and serving as lector and Eucharistic minister at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Midtown Manhattan. John said he looks forward to “using all my gifts to be of as much service as possible to God and to others,” according to information from HNP’s Franciscan Vocation Ministry.
Pedro Corces, 52, a native of Cuba, spent part of his childhood in Spain and Miami. After earning a master’s degree in theology from St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boyton Beach, Fla., he was ordained a priest in the Archdiocese of Miami. Pedro worked in ministries with the sick and poor around Miami and was a missionary in Honduras and Peru. He was also vocation director for the Archdiocese of Miami and pastor of St. Katharine Drexel Church in Weston, Fla. Pedro, who said he was “attracted to the humanity of the Franciscans,” looks forward to “embracing the Franciscan story within the framework of a Franciscan community,” according to the Vocation Ministry’s “Meet Our Student Friars” page.
Frank Souza, 23, of Philadelphia, graduated from Neumann University in Aston, Pa., with a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts, and studied at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Overbrook, in Wynnewood, Pa., with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Prior to joining the Franciscans, he taught fifth grade and was youth and liturgical coordinator for youth ministries at Holy Spirit Church in Philadelphia. After getting to know the friars through a Franciscan priest friend, Frank said he became “attracted to the Franciscan way of life, especially to the fraternity and various ministries that are part of Holy Name Province.”
Jeffrey Upshaw, 35, was born in Somerville, N.J. Prior to joining the friars, he worked as a floor-layer and was an active member of his parish, the Knights of Columbus, and various community organizations. Jeffrey began considering religious life while attending a retreat in 2007, and learned of the Franciscans. Jeffrey said he felt at home while visiting the friar community in Boston. “Their active ministry with the poor — by helping them with their struggles in life — seemed best suited to what I wish to do with my life.”
Since returning from Western New York, the men visited a variety of ministries in the Washington, D.C., area that are affilated with the Franciscans including the Province’s Office for Justice, Peace and integrity of Creation, Holy Name College in Silver Spring, Md., the Franciscan Commissariat of the Holy Land and St. Francis Church in Triangle, Va. “All of their experiences help in discerning their future lives,” Ron said.
— Jocelyn Thomas is the Province’s director of communications.