Fr. Ronald Gliatta celebrates Mass at Sacred Heart Church in Tampa, Florida, where he has served since 2020. (Photo courtesy of Sacred Heart Parish)

Province Welcomes Fr. Ron Gliatta as Official Member

Jocelyn Thomas Friar News, Home Page – News

Holy Name Province has a new member – Fr. Ronald Gliatta, OFM, who has been a Franciscan friar for 48 years as a member of Immaculate Conception Province and who lives in Tampa, Florida, at Sacred Heart Friary. The Provincial Councilors voted on Oct. 20 to accept Fr. Ronald as a fully incorporated member of Holy Name Province.

He had been a provisional member of Holy Name since 2019 when he began living with HNP friars – first in Butler, New Jersey, and now in Tampa.

“Ron is happy to join Holy Name Province and he looks forward to being a member of the new province that is being formed in the U.S.,” said Provincial Minister Fr. Kevin Mullen, OFM. “I am delighted that Ron will bring his experience and his enthusiasm to our new province.

“Friars Minor strive to be men who are fraternal and pastoral to all people,” he added. “Ron has embodied these essential characteristics throughout his Franciscan life. He has refined them in pastoral ministry and in the numerous offices he has held within the Order and within Immaculate Conception Province.”

Since first becoming interested in the Franciscans as a youth through his love for St. Francis of Assisi, Fr. Ron has held an assortment of roles in a variety of places around the world. They range from towns in Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey and New York to an assignment in Italy. He has spent most of his career in formation work.

Fr. Ron, on left, with the friars of Sacred Heart Parish – Fr. Michael Jones, Br. Henry Fulmer, Fr. Stephen Mimnaugh, and Fr. Zachary Elliott. (Photo courtesy of Sacred Heart Parish)

Early Years
Fr. Ron, a native of New York City, spent his childhood in northern New Jersey, where his family moved when he was three years old. During his youth, he developed an interest in the Franciscans and in the priesthood.

Since he was a child, Fr. Ron has known that he wanted to be a Franciscan and a priest.

“I felt an overwhelming attraction to the Order after reading about the life of St. Francis,” he said. “I immediately fell in love with St. Francis, and the Franciscan message became important to me, especially care for creation.”

He recalls being a parishioner at the Franciscans’ St. Anne’s Parish in Fair Lawn, when his family lived on the town’s border of Elmwood Park, and becoming acquainted with the parish friars and traditions.

Photo courtesy of Sacred Heart Parish

As a teenager, Fr. Ron participated in a vocation weekend in Callicoon, New York – at the time the location of Holy Name Province’s seminary – and wanted to learn about applying to the Order. When he expressed interest, he was told, because he was of Italian background, to apply to Immaculate Conception Province – one of the seven OFM provinces in the United States – rather than to Holy Name.

He remembers saying prayers one summer day inside St. Anne’s Church that he would be accepted into IC Province’s Franciscan formation program and that, after receiving his formal letter of acceptance, he celebrated his first Mass at that church nine years later.

After graduating from Bayside High School, he attended college for a year – with plans to become a veterinarian – and then applied to Immaculate Conception Province, beginning the formation program that he had dreamed about for years. Fr. Ron entered the Franciscan seminary in Troy, New York, in 1968 and in 1973, he professed his first vows as a Franciscan. He made his solemn profession in 1976 and was ordained to the priesthood in Boston, Massachusetts, on May 6, 1977.

Fr. Ron completed post-graduate studies at several institutions: St. John’s Seminary, Westin School of Theology, Episcopal Divinity School of Theology, Boston College and Harvard School of Theology. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy, a master’s degree in theology with a sub-major in liturgy, and he completed a master’s degree program in Franciscan studies from St. Bonaventure University. He also holds a certification in clinical counseling as well as educational administration from Boston State College.

Franciscan Life
His first assignment was as associate pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Toronto, Canada, Since then, he has served in various roles and ministries – including principal and headmaster of Serra Catholic High School in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, secretary of formation for his province, director of the Franciscan Liturgical Commission, director of the Franciscan Diaconate Program, provincial master of ceremonies, and visiting professor of Franciscan Studies at St. John’s Seminary/College in Boston, Massachusetts.

In 1985, Fr. Ron, who speaks Italian, was appointed by St. Pope John Paul II as an officialis of the Congregation for The Doctrine of Faith, Vatican City, and served under Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

A friar wearing the traditional brown robe shakes hands with St. Pope John Paul II, who is wearing a white cassock.

Fr. Ron shakes hands with St. Pope John Paul II. (Photo courtesy of Sacred Heart Parish)

This appointment enabled him to spend time in Italy, an experience he says was wonderful for someone of Italian heritage.

“It was a wonderful experience as an Italian to live in Italy,” he said, adding that it was an honor to work for the Vatican.

His role involved reviewing documents and learning the processes and protocols of the Congregation. While there, Fr. Ron lived at the General Curia, or headquarters, of the Order of Friars Minor, which is near Vatican City.

During his religious life, Fr. Ron has also served as pastor of two parishes in Connecticut – St. Michael’s Parish in Waterbury and St. Joseph Parish in Winsted – for a total of 17 years. While in Connecticut, he was appointed by the archbishop of Hartford to a four-year term as a member of the Presbyterial Council of the Archdiocese of Hartford.

Fr. Ron served in administration roles for his province and for the OFM English-speaking Conference of the Order. He was elected to the administration of Immaculate Conception Province in 1998, serving for a total of 11 years. While working as secretary of formation and studies for his province, Fr. Ron was elected chair of the ESC Secretaries of Formation and, later, as an executive board member of the International Formation Council for the Franciscan Order in Rome.

Fr. Ron is listed in Who’s Who in America: The East – 22nd & 23rd Editions, and the International Book of Honor: 3rd World Edition, for his distinguished service in education, as well as Who’s Who in American Education: 3rd Edition. He has published two books – “In Praise of Sister Death” and “A Franciscan Way of the Cross: A Liturgical Celebration” and is working on a third publication – “A Complete Catechetical Curriculum: Grades K thru 10.”

In a recent conversation, Fr. Ron said he is grateful for the experiences that his Franciscan life has given him, and he expresses a willingness to fill whatever roles within Holy Name Province where he can be most helpful.

“I leave myself open to the needs of the Province,” he said.

A friar wearing the traditional brown robes and white cord blesses a white and tan fluffy dog with holy water. The dog is held by a smiling man who is flanked by two boys and a woman.

Fr. Ron blesses a dog during Sacred Heart Parish’s annual pet blessing. (Photo courtesy of Sacred Heart Parish)

Looking Ahead
Fr. Ron is looking forward to the changes in the Franciscan provinces across the United States. He appreciates the fact that the six OFM friar communities are working to unify into one coast-to-coast province.

“The idea of unifying the provinces is innovative because of the size of the country,” he said. “It is a monumental task. It is mind-boggling to think about all that is involved legally, financially and culturally.”

Fr. Ron participated in the interprovincial Chapter of Mats in 2019, which gathered members of the six provinces together, and found the experience positive and the spirit of fraternity “incredible.”

“To be with so many friars was exhilarating,” he said. “It was my introduction to the US-6 provinces.”

He is impressed by the HNP friars and, though he has been a member for only a short time, Fr. Ron feels as if he has been part of the Province for longer.

“I’ve really been part of the community for years,” said Fr. Ron, who lived at St. Anthony Friary in Butler, New Jersey, from July 2019 until September 2020. He recalls being welcomed that summer by the guardian of the friary, Br. Robert Frazzetta, OFM, and the residents with a dinner and introductions by each member of the community.

Fr. Ron said he has observed HNP friars to be dedicated and hard workers. “Like friars around the world, they work side by side with the people,” he said.

“I feel as if my life has done a complete circle since my introduction in Callicoon many years ago,” he added. “I went there thinking that I’d join Holy Name Province, and now I am officially part of Holy Name.”

Jocelyn Thomas is director of communication for Holy Name Province.

Editor’s note: an interview with Fr. Ron was videotaped in October 2020 by Sacred Heart Parish and is included in the parish’s “Meet our New Friars” series.