Province Establishes Franciscan Relief Fund

Jocelyn Thomas In the Headlines

NEW YORK – The friars of Holy Name Province, through the Office of Development, have launched a new initiative, the Franciscan Relief Fund, to provide economic support to unemployed individuals in the food, hospitality, and entertainment industries who are struggling financially during the global COVID-19 pandemic.

All donations made to the Franciscan Relief Fund will be used exclusively for the purchase of $100 grocery vouchers from the Stop & Shop supermarket chain. These vouchers will be available to eligible unemployed applicants living in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut who have little to no other source of assistance. Service industries and their workforces have been among the hardest-hit by the pandemic.

“For decades, we friars have helped people in need through our social service programs at many of our ministry sites,” said Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen, OFM. “In this very different environment and way of living, we have created a mechanism to reach members of society that may be overlooked during these difficult times.

“The people who will benefit from the Franciscan Relief Fund are not those fortunate enough to have jobs that enable them to work from home or those with small businesses receiving support from the government. The workers we want to help with the fund have seen their jobs eliminated – permanently and temporarily – which is devastating because many have been employed for many years in these professions,” Kevin said.

The Franciscan Relief Fund’s website allows one to donate to this important effort.

In an April 28 email message announcing the new Franciscan Relief Fund, David Convertino, OFM, said, “As those who know us realize, the Franciscan friars are beggars. We never beg for ourselves, only for others. We are now begging for those who will fall through the cracks of the recovery programs as they face unemployment. These are people whose jobs often go unseen and unappreciated. They come from all walks of life and now need our help. We are there for them, and you can be, too.

“Only with your financial generosity and care can we provide these vouchers to those suffering during this pandemic,” continued David, executive director of the HNP Office of Development. “You can help us give these workers peace of mind and comfort – knowing they will be able to provide fresh food to their families and loved ones. All of us are struggling during these difficult times. These women and men – husbands, mothers, and caregivers – are fearful of the terror that awaits them if they have no food. I ask you to please give generously,” he added in his email message.

Donations can be made online through the website or by mailing a check made out to the “Franciscan Relief Fund” to Franciscan Friars-Holy Name Province, 144 West 32nd Street, New York, NY 10001-3202.

The friars are making available another way to help — personalized e-cards that can be emailed to essential workers. The text of the cards says “Extraordinary people doing extraordinary things. Thank you, essential workers.” They can be obtained through a link posted recently on the Facebook pages of FriarWorks and St. Anthony’s Guild.

The HNP Development Office has set up similar relief funds in the past – in 2017, for the victims of the hurricane that struck Puerto Rico,  and in 2012 for the victims of Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast.

— Jocelyn Thomas is the director of communication for Holy Name Province.