NEW YORK — Jerome Massimino, OFM, and the friars of St. Francis Friary in Midtown Manhattan hosted two German friars last week. Fr. Hadrian Koch, OFM, and Fr. Markus Laibach, OFM, members of the St. Elizabeth Province (Fulda), stayed at the 31st Street friary from Oct. 10 to 19, after participating in the Chicago meeting of the English-speaking Conference with the provincials of Transalpine Europe (see separate story).
Fr. Hadrian is the Provincial Minister, and Markus serves as Executive Secretary of COTAF, the conference of Trans Alpine Friars. This was the first U.S. visit for both friars, who were eager to spend time in Holy Name Province, as friars of the Fulda Province had a founding role in HNP history, according to provincial vicar Dominic Monti, OFM, a Franciscan history scholar.
When Holy Name Province was created in 1901, 67 of its 113 founding members had previously belonged to the Fulda Province’s American mission, based in Paterson, N.J. They included three provincial ministers: Edward Blecke, OFM, Mathias Faust, OFM, and Thomas Plassmann, OFM. Even after it became independent, Holy Name Province continued to recruit lay brothers from the Fulda Province through the 1920s and ’30s.
On Oct. 12, Provincial Secretary Michael Harlan, OFM, who lives at St. Francis Friary, arranged a boat tour around Manhattan for Hadrian and Markus, as well as the two French provincials, Benoit Dubigeon, OFM, of Paris, and Roger Marchal, OFM, of Strasbourg, who were staying with the Immaculate Conception Province friars on Thompson Street in New York City. Following their tour, the four European friars attended the 5 p.m. Mass at St. Francis of Assisi Church and joined the community for dinner. Hadrian and Markus were honored by the St. Francis community at an Oct. 15 recreation and dinner in the friary, where they received souvenir gifts.
Besides visiting New York, the German friars were able to see other Province ministries outside the city. On Oct. 13, John Piccione, OFM, and Joseph Hertel, OFM, of St. Anthony’s Guild, took them to visit the friaries in Paterson, N.J., and Butler, N.J., founded by the Fulda friars in the late 19th century. The friars had lunch with the community in Butler, N.J., and examined historical artifacts in the Province archives.
On Oct. 16, Hadrian and Markus accompanied Dominic Monti to Boston, stopping along the way to have lunch with the friar community in Hartford, Conn. While in Boston, David Convertino, OFM, arranged a harbor tour for the visitors.
In addition, Dennis Tamburello, OFM, who knew Hadrian and Markus from his study days in Germany, spent Saturday afternoon and evening with them in New York.
The German visitors traveled home on Oct. 19. Both seemed impressed by the ministries of the HNP friars, Dominic said.
Shown in photo above are Michael Harlan (lower right) with three visiting friars — Markus, left, and, in rear, Hadrian and Roger — on a Manhattan street. The photo behind shows Benoit, Hardrian and Markus on the patio of the West 31st Street friary, looking at maps of New York City.