BOSTON — The friar community of Saint Anthony Shrine and Saint Anthony Residence here gathered with friars from various houses of the Province last weekend to officially welcome Scott Carey, Gerald Hopeck, and Michael Reyes as postulants.
Provincial Vicar Dominic Monti, OFM, presided at the Rite of Candidacy on August 17 at the Shrine.
Following a reading from the Gospel of John by Richard Flaherty, OFM, members of the music ministry along with Gene Pistacchio, OFM, Gary Maciag, OFM, Barry Langley, OFM, and Hugh Macsherry, OFM, sang “I Have Loved You.” Frank Critch, OFM, read from the Testament of Saint Francis. After the reading, Dominic, the Province’s secretary for formation and studies, preached.
Franciscan Vocation and Brotherhood
In his homily, Dominic said, “Francis tells us that the ‘Lord had given him brothers.’ It is the Lord who has called you to be here, and the fraternal community gathered here is also called to encourage you in your discernment. Be prepared to grow and to be stretched into a greater understanding, not only of who you are as men but also of who you are as men in relation to the Franciscan brotherhood. There is a vast lived experience of fraternal life present here at Arch Street that will be a source of support for you throughout this new journey. Your formation is entrusted to Brother John (Maganzini), yet the entire community joins him to encourage and help you continue your discernment.”
During the Rite of Candidacy, Vocation Director Brian Smail, OFM, presented the three postulants to Dominic: “I present the following men to you for postulancy in Holy Name Province of the Order of Friars Minor. After prayer and discernment, I confidently recommend them for your acceptance.”
Dominic welcomed the men in the name of the Province and invited them to state their intention.
“As believers in Jesus Christ, we wish to deepen our dedication to our Franciscan vocation and to do this freely in the presence of the community gathered here. We commit ourselves to prayer, fraternity, ministry, and study, in order to know the life of the friars and the Province and to discern our vocation. We do all this while trusting in the grace of God and the intercession of Saints Francis and Clare.” Dominic accepted their intention and blessed their tau crosses. John Maganzini, OFM, the Province’s director of postulants, and David Convertino, OFM, director of Saint Anthony Shrine, presented tau crosses to the postulants and John signed the official postulant entrance book. Following the presentation of the crosses the friars greeted the postulants with the sign of peace while the music ministry sang, “My God and My All.” Gregory Day, OFM, led the Litany of Thanksgiving.
After the final prayer, David invited the postulants to come forth and the friars sang “The Blessing of Saint Francis.” The evening included a festive preprandium and dinner, prepared by the shrine’s kitchen staff. More than 25 friars participated.
“It was a wonderful evening,” said Brian. “It was very gratifying to help these men in discerning their vocation and then to see them make this first step.”
The postulants expressed their enthusiasm and gratitude for this phase in their lives. Their observations reflect their varied backgrounds.
Michael, an immigrant from the Philippines, said: “The Rite of Candidacy ceremony not only signifies the official start of my Franciscan journey, but it also solidifies the ‘yes’ that I had offered to God when I heard His call. More importantly, this ceremony reiterates the fact that I am not journeying this new path alone. I have all my Franciscan brothers around me, who are willingly offering their incessant supply of wisdom, support, love and prayers. It is truly a blessing to be invited, accepted and welcomed by a wonderful community.”
Gerald, a native of Bridgeport, Conn., said that the Rite of Candidacy “fulfilled a dream and a call” that he said he has felt for 11 years.
“During the blessing of postulants and the fraternal embrace, I was filled with the Spirit. This feeling reconfirmed my faith and reinforced the call that I have received from God.
“The brotherhood that was experienced before, during and after the ceremony only confirmed to me that the Gospel way of life helps all to enjoy and celebrate the beauty that God has made in every person,” said Gerald, who said he got to know the friars of Holy Name at St. Patrick-St. Anthony parish in Hartford. “Working in the inner city and with the poor/marginalized is something that I always dreamed about doing, and something I have grown to love and appreciate.”
Scott, a native of California who has lived in various parts of the United States, said: “Over the past few years, Saint Anthony Shrine in Boston has been the place where I would go to be spiritually nourished. It was here that I first encountered the friars and felt the invitation of the Spirit toward religious life, and so it was very humbling and moving to have Br. Mags and others welcome me home.
“Br. Mags has helped us as postulants become fully aware of God’s loving presence in all our experiences and encounters,” said Scott, who holds a master’s degree in divinity from Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. “It is a wonderful grace to be on this journey with the friars and witness our faith mature and expand.”
Michael said, “As I prepare for the coming postulant year, my heart is filled with feelings of excitement and joy. I am excited about this new journey that I am embarking into; like a child going to school for the very first time, the excitement brought about by learning new things and discoveries regarding myself and this community is just overflowing. These discoveries and understanding will be important factors in my further discernment and growth as a person and as a Franciscan brother, and this simply brings joy to my heart.”
Michael said he became familiar with the friars of Holy Name Province when he worked just one block from St. Francis of Assisi Church in Midtown Manhattan. “When I physically witnessed the works of the friars on 31st Street in New York City, I had a much deeper understanding and pure attraction towards St. Francis’ life, work and Order.”
He also felt “blessed to personally experience the realness and welcoming spirits of the Franciscan friars.”
Retreats and Workshops
The initial weeks for the postulants include exposure to a variety of ministries and workshops. Before the Rite of Candidacy, John Maganzini led an entrance retreat at Miramar Retreat Center in Duxbury, Mass. The theme of the week-long gathering was “Franciscan Ways of Prayer and Discernment, Franciscan Spirituality,” John said.
This week, they are participating in a liturgy workshop with James Sabak, OFM. On Friday, John and the postulants will travel to Butler, N.J., “to stay overnight at our friary and then attend Saturday’s solemn profession in Manhattan,” John said. On Aug. 25, they will visit Quam Bonum, the Province’s Cape Cod house.
The men have already taken several in-house classes including:
– “Transition and Change” with David Convertino
– “History of Spirituality,” Philip O’Shea, OFM
– “Finding God in All Things,” John Maganzini
The postulants also participated in an August 3 music workshop with Kevin McGoff, OFM, at St. Mary’s Parish, a ministry of Holy Name Province in Providence, R.I.
Shown in the photo above are Scott Carey, Gerald Hopeck, and Michael Reyes, who, Brian said, are “fine men of solid faith.”
— Jocelyn Thomas is communications director for Holy Name Province.