NEW YORK — Eighteen friars marked their golden and silver jubilees of profession with their brothers, families and friends last week, many attending a celebratory Eucharistic liturgy and dinner. Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, celebrated the June 19 Mass at St. Francis of Assisi Church on West 31st Street, assisted by Provincial Vicar Dominic Monti, OFM, and Jerome Massimino, OFM, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi.
Provincial Secretary Michael Harlan, OFM, who commemorated his 25th anniversary, prayed during the Prayer of Intercessions for classmate Francis Matthews, OFM, who died last month, and his family.
Mendicants of Meaning
In his homily, John said, “We are called upon to build up the body of Christ.”
“Our General Minister recently said that ‘we are called to be mendicants of meaning.’ ” John described ways to be a mendicant including:
1) Make clear that we are serious about our missions
2) Direct people to our relationship to Christ, asking ourselves if the people in my life are more Christ-like because of my example?
3) Give people a sense of belonging; all settings should be welcoming. In carrying out our missions, we should teach people.
4) Our work should be hands-on.
John told the friars that over the past years, “You’ve done a lot, but there is still more to do.” He encouraged people to avoid complacency.
“Let’s begin again, for up till now, we have done nothing,” he quoted St. Francis.
Martin Bednar, OFM, of St. Petersburg, Fla., said that as he celebrated “on the anniversary of my profession, I look at this as a new beginning. On the day of my 25th profession, I gave up smoking, a decision that lasted to this day. Now I am not looking to give up anything, but I feel a resolution to continue to be active in the Franciscan life and in ministry.”
“My ministry began in Bolivia,” he said, “where I learned to love the Hispanic culture. Over the years, I have continued to love the Hispanic community in Bolivia, in the Bronx, in Silver Spring, Md., in the Ministry of the Word where I now minister.”
Kevin Mackin, OFM, a member of the class of 1958, is looking forward to a new venture. On June 30, he assumes the presidency of Mount St. Mary College in Newburgh, N.Y. Kevin, who spent 19 years at Siena College, first as a professor and then as president, said that he is “high on higher education.”
Views on the Milestones
Another friar commemorating a 50-year anniversary, Edward Flanagan, OFM, a member of the Province’s Ministry of the Word, said, “It was very special to spend time with classmates that I hadn’t seen in many years.”
“It is with gratitude to God that we are still sitting up and taking nourishment in this world,” said Ed, who moved in May from Florida to Washington, D.C.
Michael Harlan, a member of the class of 1983, said: “This is a very special moment in my life, to be able to look back on 25 years as a Franciscan friar and to reflect on the many joys and blessings that I have received, both in fraternity and ministry. It is an opportunity to give thanks for all the friars that I have had the privilege of living and serving with, and the many people that I have come to know and serve in my ministry during these years.”
He added: “I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to serve in a variety of ministries during these 25 years. I am extremely grateful to be a member of Holy Name Province.”
Dac Tran, OFM, a member of the class of 1983 who lives in Greenville, S.C. and ministers to Vietnamese Catholics in the Diocese of Charleston, said he feels a deep sense of gratitude to the Lord and to the Province.
“I am very blessed to be living my vocation as a Franciscan friar,” said Dac, a native of Vietnam. “I thank God for all the love, prayers and support from my classmates the friars, family and friends who have journeyed with me during these 25 years.” Dac said he is glad to have “ been engaged in a variety of ministries including mission work in Jamaica, hospital ministry and currently parochial ministry.”
Before concluding the Mass, John O’Connor thanked the friars of 31st Street for their hospitality. The liturgy was prepared by Timothy Shreenan, OFM, and the music was supervised by Meredith Augustin. The friary chef, Raymond Childs, and his staff coordinated the preprandium and dinner.
After the June 19 Mass, friars and their guests enjoyed a festive dinner in the Province’s San Damiano Hall, two doors down from the church. The group included parents, siblings, parishioners and colleagues of the celebrating friars. The hall is in the first floor of the friary/provincialite that opened last summer.
“It was a very festive event,” said Michael. “I’m so glad that we could celebrate the 25th and 50th anniversary of religious profession in the presence of family and friends. It was a very special moment for me to celebrate my 25th anniversary at St. Francis Church, where I first met the friars in 1980, and where I would later celebrate my solemn profession of vows in 1987.”
Friars commemorating anniversaries traveled from places that included Western New York, the Carolinas, Florida, and even Bolivia.
On June 28, residents of Holy Name Friary in Ringwood, N.J., who are commemorating anniversaries this year, will be honored with a luncheon.
The photo above shows Martin with friends form Holy Cross Parish in the Bronx where he served in the 1980s (confirm). Additional ptos of the June 19 festivities will be posted in the Province’s photo gallery, accessible on the home page of the HNP Web site.
— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.