Province Celebrates Transitus of St. Francis

HNP Communications In the Headlines

New Providence Parish Holds First Event
by Frank Sevola

The Transitus was celebrated in honor of the feast of St. Francis at many of HNP’s churches last week. The service is an evening ceremony of prayer, song and scripture that allows participants to walk in St. Francis’ footsteps as he journeyed with his brothers in Christ and eventually found his ultimate home with God in heaven, according to a pamphlet distributed by St. Anthony’s Guild.

Approximately 200 persons attended the first Transitus held at St. Mary Church in Providence. Charles O’Connor, vicar, presided and Frank Sevola, guardian, preached.

St. Mary’s Parish became a member of Holy Name Province this summer.

Butler Commemoration 
by Octavio Duran
On a day in which Franciscans all over the world gather to celebrate the Transitus, the communities of St. Anthony Friary and St. Anthony Church along with the Secular Franciscan fraternity of St. Anthony celebrated this uniquely-Franciscan ritual.

Holding high the Paschal candle, pastor Thomas Hartle processed to the altar, where two baskets containing two large loaves of bread and a lit candle had been placed. At that point, we heard the narration of Thomas of Celano, about how Francis embraced Sister Death.

Following the tradition of Francis blessing the brothers before his death, Thomas Hartle raised his hands to bless the friars and the assembly. He then blessed the bread and cut it into many pieces, which were distributed among the congregation. David Engelhaupt, SFO, read the Gospel of John and provided a reflection about the life of St. Francis.

A black and white sketch of Francis, placed for the occasion on the right side of the church, was Engelhaupt’s inspiration. The sketch shows a small songbird, perched on Francis’ fingers, his beloved lark like the one he saw through the small window of his cell in Perugia.

“In this drawing,” he said,”I see the love in Francis eyes — that same love shown to everyone, and in everything, for they were either brothers or sisters to Francis. The love he gave to set beast and man free. The love of joy that sent the robbers away, the love of sharing, caring, and being with brothers.” At the end of his reflection the bells tolled, Francis’ candle was extinguished, and individual candles were lit, while participants sang the hymn I Am the Light of the World.

“For the last seven years, I have given the reflection after the Gospel,” Tom said. “This year, I asked David to share with us his thoughts on Francis.”

After the service, a reception was held in the church’s lower level.

Arch Street Dedicates New San Damiano Cross
by John Maganzini 

Several events took place at Saint Anthony Shrine during Francis week, beginning with a presentation by David Convertino at the weekend Masses. The friars held special community celebrations as well.

On Monday morning, the friars gathered in the chapel for a special morning prayer which included the reading of the Rule. Following morning prayer, discussion groups were held to reflect on the document from the minister general, “Sollemnitas Sancti Francisci.” On Tuesday, the friars invited the worshipping community to the celebration of the Transitus. Following, approximately 300 invited guests joined the friars for an open house in the friary. This event was catered by the friary kitchen staff. In the evening of the feast day, the friars were joined by the friars from Saint Anthony Residence and Kenneth Himes, Jacques LaPointe and Moises Gutiezerrez, OFM, from Sacred Heart Province. Moises is now stationed at the Curia in Rome, where he works in the order’s development project.

A new seven-foot-wide by 10-feet tall San Damiano Cross made its debut on the second-floor church of St. Anthony Shrine, at a Mass during the opening of Francis week. David Convertino, assisted by Brian Smail, blessed and dedicated this new cross in honor of Reginald Redlon and Leo Clifford. Reginald, Leo and Brian concelebrated the Mass.

Paterson Honors Saint With Extended Celebration 
St. Bonaventure parish in Paterson, N.J., began its commemoration of St. Francis on Sept. 17 on the Feast of the Stigmata.

“We felt that this was a natural place to begin the celebration,” Dan Grigassy said.

The Transitus was celebrated on Oct. 3 at which parishioners and Secular Franciscans from the region participated.Richard Trezza, the province’s spiritual assistant for Secular Franciscans, presided, and Dan preached.

During the celebration season, several talks on themes related to St. Francis were held at the parish, as was a blessing of animals.

New York ‘s All Saints Commemorates 
by Glenn Humphrey
A Transitus ceremony was held at All Saints Church in Harlem at which Msgr. Wallace Harris, vicar of the Central Harlem Vicariate and an affiliate of the province, read the words of Francis.

The service was simple, based on readings from the words of Francis and the Gospel. Sr. Jaqueline, of the Franciscan Handmaids of Mary, was the narrator. A blessing was bestowed on those present and bread was distributed. The service was followed by a dinner in the church hall.

In photo, Ben Taylor reads the Gospel at the Transitus observance. behind him is Neil O’Connell.

31st Street Adds Singing of French Prayer
by Timothy Shreenan

Transitus was celebrated at 31st Street in New York Oct. 3 with a large crowd in attendance. John O’Connorpresided at the service and Kevin Tortorelli was the narrator. Jerome Massimino proclaimed the gospel, and Sr. Marie Cinotti, FMM, gave the concluding reflection.

Masses throughout the feast day on Oct. 4 were well attended, attesting to the love many people have for the Seraphic Saint. The principal liturgy of the day was celebrated at 5:30 with Jerome as presider, Alan Thomas as deacon, Dominic Monti and Vincent Laviano as vested concelebrants, and Francis Gunn as preacher. Friars from 96th Street, Harlem, and other parts of New York joined the 31st Street community.

An addition was made to the customary Francis week observances with a program that evening titled “The Prayers of St. Francis” based on the singing of “Quatre petites prières de saint François d’Assise” (Four simple prayers of St. Francis of Assisi) by the French composer Francis Poulenc (1899-1963). Anthony Carrozzo presided at the service and gave four thought-provoking and stimulating reflections after each prayer was sung by the St. Francis Choir under the direction of Gwendolyn Toth. Artwork selected by Timothy Shreenan, consisting mainly of works by Giotto and Cimabue, was shown onto a large  screen set up in the sanctuary during the singing.

The celebration of the Feast of St. Francis at 31st Street began on Oct. 1 with the blessing of animals. Jerome led the rite for a coterie of dogs, cats and a few hamsters in the 32nd Street courtyard, the setting of Betti Richard’s famous bronze statue of St. Francis in prayer.