NEW YORK — Smiles and memories, prayers and photos were plentiful last week as 14 friars were honored at the Province’s jubilee Mass for their service and brotherhood. Friars, friends and family members gathered at St. Francis of Assisi Church to congratulate HNP members marking 50 and 25 years since they professed their first vows as Franciscans.
Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen, OFM, celebrated the June 23 liturgy and emphasized the bond the jubilarians have to each other and to their faith.
“The Franciscans’ strength is that we don’t do this alone. We are a fraternity,” he said in his homily. “We are blessed to celebrate today that these brothers recognize that their bond is strong. The jubilarians are here because of that bond and we are here because of that bond.
“There is a sense of hope and renewal when we gather together,” Kevin continued. “Many years ago, these friars gathered to dream about what their lives would be like. They heard the voice of the Lord and they went out, listening to the call to be like Jesus and to serve.”
Fraternity and Jubilee
“Jesus is the bond and we are the branches,” said Kevin. “It‘s from the strength of that relationship that all things flow,” he said, adding his thoughts about the significance of jubilee, referencing Pope Francis and the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
“Jubilee is a time to rest,” he said. “It’s a time of new life and of new hope. It’s a time to experience healing and forgiveness. And so, we go forth and share. We need to remind ourselves that the journey is not done. I want to thank my brothers for all that you do. May they continue to do God’s work.”
The jubilarians — with a combined Franciscan service of 575 years — represent varied locations and ministry specialties. The friars marking 50 years since their simple professions were: Peter Ahlheim, OFM, of Butler, N.J.; Michael Duffy, OFM, of Philadelphia; Alfonso Guzmán, OFM, of San Juan, Puerto Rico; Ignatius Harding, OFM, of La Paz, Bolivia; Vianney Justin, OFM, of Buffalo, N.Y.; Gerard Lee, OFM, of Loudonville, N.Y., Daniel Riley, OFM, of West Clarksville, N.Y.; Alan Thomas, OFM, of St. Petersburg, Fla., and Kevin Tortorelli, OFM, of New York City.
Friars marking their silver jubilees were Francis Di Spigno, OFM, of Allegany, N.Y.; Patrick Fereday, OFM,of Butler; Lawrence Ford, OFM, and Paul Lostritto, OFM, of New York City; and John Leonard, OFM, of Hartford, Conn.
During the Mass, the jubilarians renewed their vows, together reciting the traditional prayer:
Today, we, your sons, renew and re-dedicate ourselves to the call you have given us. We renew our profession of the Rule of our father Francis, and we ask your help to continue to live the life of the Gospel with obedience to your spirit and your Church, with poverty that imitates the life of your Son and his holy mother, and with chastity that frees us to love you and your people with unmeasured love.
Celebration and Gratitude
Thursday evening’s celebration “was terrific,” said Michael Duffy, who professed his vows in 1966. “I remember my 25th, with only the jubilarians attending a quiet Mass in the small chapel of the old friary. Afterward, we went out to supper and then went home. That was it. By comparison, this was a real celebration: Mass attended by so many friars other than jubilarians, Kevin’s homily, parishioners of St. Francis, family and close friends, glorious music, strong congregational singing, wonderful food and the social exchange afterward.
“Because of our great strides in partnering with laypeople, it seemed so natural that there would be so many family and friends there to celebrate the milestone,” Michael added. “The whole evening showed how far we have come in witnessing our fraternal life and expressing that unity with such joy and glory to God! We’re grateful to the Province for providing that special night.”
Francis Di Spigno, who professed his vows in 1991, said, “I particularly liked Kevin’s note that we all chose to live in community and how years of ministry and good work that was done, within the context of the brotherhood, was present in the sanctuary. To me, that was what was worth celebrating. I am grateful to the Province for recognizing the 25- and 50-year milestones.”
Provincial Councilor Robert Frazzetta, OFM, said he was glad that the two jubilarians from Butler could join in the West 31st Street festivities.
“Peter and Patrick seemed to appreciate the fact that they were surrounded by their brother friars,” said Bob, guardian of St. Anthony Friary in Butler. “They don’t often have the opportunity to do so. We are taking the celebration to our local community and holding a jubilee celebration on June 28 at the friary for friars who were not able to be at the Provincial event.’
St. Bonaventure University alumnus Kevin Cleary said, “It was an honor to attend this year’s Jubilee supporting the friars marking their anniversaries and all the friars of Holy Name Province. When I look back at my first steps on the campus of St. Bonaventure, back in the late 1990s, some of my fondest memories are conversations I had with several friars. Years later, to attend and show support for those friars marking their jubilee was a great honor, given all they have done throughout the communities they have lived and served.”
Cleary, who is on the board of Mt. Irenaeus, said, “I had the opportunity to visit Assisi and Rome with Dan Riley, Joe Kotula, OFM, Sr. Margaret Carney, and the late Fr. Dan Hurley, OFM, between my freshman year and sophomore years. It was a wonderful experience of learning the history of Francis and Clare with some very special Franciscans.”
Congratulatory messages to the jubilarians were posted on the Franciscans Friars of Holy Name Province Facebook page. A video taken during the event has received more than 12,000 views. Photos of the event, taken by Octavio Duran, OFM, can be found on the St. Anthony’s Guild Facebook page.
— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.
- “Province Congratulates 2016 Jubilarians, Remembers Deceased Brothers” – Jan 13, 2016, HNP Today
- “Celebrating 750 Years of Witness and Service” – July 8, 2015, HNP Today