NEW YORK – Family members, friends, and friars gathered at a jubilee Mass at St. Francis of Assisi Church on West 31st Street – and afterward at a celebratory reception at St. Damiano Hall – to honor seven members of Holy Name Province who this year are marking 50 and 25 years since the profession of their first vows. A stirring homily by Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen, OFM, emphasized the importance of dignity, brotherhood, and numbers.
“These men fell in love with the Lord and heard the same call that St. Francis of Assisi did many years ago,” said Kevin, who presided at the 5:30 p.m. liturgy on June 27 in honor of the jubilarians.
Clutching the Mass worship aid printed for this special celebration, Kevin drew the attention of the congregation to the cover’s artwork, which depicted Francis on April 16 in 1208 – almost 811 years to the day – committing to the vows.
“The scene reminds us that Francis never did this alone,” Kevin said. “He did this – his ministry – with his brothers.”
History, Passion and Mission
The Provincial highlighted the similarity of the passion and mission then and now.
“What matters with Francis was his attitude. He treated everyone with dignity. We give thanks for the call and for the goal that these friars continue to strive for. We remember that what motivates them is the example of Francis. All of his followers must share that love,” said Kevin, who also noted the significance of numbers during his homily.
“Today, we recognize that a big part of this day is numbers – dates like birthdays and anniversaries, and how many people in a class. We know, for example, that St. Francis lived for roughly 44 years, and as a friar for 18 to 20 years. These jubilarians have him beat,” said Kevin with a chuckle. “They heard the same call as Francis and they responded – 50 and 25 years ago.”
Among the friars recognized for their golden jubilee were Kevin Cronin, OFM, of Butler, New Jersey, John Hogan, OFM, of St. Petersburg, Florida, John Jaskowiak, OFM, of Boston, Massachusetts, and Vincent Laviano, OFM, also of St. Petersburg – all of whom professed their first vows on June 28, 1969 at St. Raphael’s Novitiate in Lafayette, N.J.
The friars honored for their silver jubilee were Todd Carpenter, OFM, of The Villages, Florida, James Sabak, OFM, of Raleigh, North Carolina, and Brian Smail, OFM, of New York City. These friars professed their first vows on June 4, 1994, in Providence, Rhode Island.
“I think it was one of the best jubilees I have ever been to,” said Kevin Cronin, a member of the HNP Ministry of the Word. “From the first ‘Glory! Glory to God in the highest!’ to the last hymn, ‘To God beyond all praising,’ it was a real jubilee!”
“Along with friends and family, some people from groups that came from parishes where I work on Long Island said they couldn’t believe the music and the singing, and the joy they felt in our beautiful Mother church of the Province. They want to bring ‘Glory’ back to their parishes in Long Beach,” Kevin said. “The whole celebration made me feel proud and blessed to have been a Friar Minor for these 50 years. I know I could not have done it any other way, with any other group. Glory!”
John Hogan also had praise for the jubilee Mass.
“I especially appreciated the music at the liturgy,” said John. “The choice of music and the way it was played and sung was very uplifting and joyous. Also, Kevin Mullen’s presiding and homily certainly enriched the celebration. As I look back on my 50 years as a professed friar, I am particularly grateful to be a member of Holy Name Province. My friends who were able to attend the jubilee celebration were moved by the Mass, the music, and joy the friars exhibited,” he added.
Vincent, who like John lives at St. Anthony Friary in St. Petersburg, said that he not only enjoyed the celebration but also recognized the detail and professionalism with which the event was planned.
“The Mass and reception were arranged beautifully,” said Vincent, who lived at the 31st Street friary for more than 25 years and is now the guardian of St. Anthony Friary and the 33 friars who reside there. “The banquet was especially nice. It was good to see everyone – both my classmates and the members of the 25-year class.”
As he concluded the liturgy, Kevin thanked the parish and all those involved with the jubilee Mass, among them Andrew Reitz, OFM, pastor, Timothy Shreenan, OFM, director of liturgy, musicians Meredith Augustin and Liam Mulligan, organist Jennifer Pascual, and Provincial Secretary Michael Harlan, OFM, who “every year organizes the event.” Kevin also thanked the family and friends of the jubilarians who “helped shape these men.”
It was a team effort for two classes of friars who cherish their Franciscan lives and the milestones they are marking.
“We rejoice this day. My brothers, continue to respond and to walk in the footsteps of Francis,” said Kevin.
— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.
- “Franciscans Renew Vows” – April 24, 2019, HNP Today
- “Province Congratulates Friars Marking Anniversaries in 2019, Remembers Friars who Died Last Year” – Jan. 7, 2019, HNP Today
- “Jubilarians Honored at Mass in New York City” – June 26, 2018, HNP Today