Friar News Briefs

Jocelyn Thomas Friar News

The updates below feature activities of Holy Name friars, including their celebrations, presentations, and ministry events. For more information, visit links to the parishes and organizations mentioned, contact the friars by phone or email, or connect with the HNP Communications Office.

To provide news briefs for future articles, email information to communications director Jocelyn Thomas at

Announcements from the Provincial Administration

The Provincial Administration asks that friars begin crafting their directorate and committee budgets for the period of July 2015 to July 2016. They are due to Provincial Treasurer Dennis Wilson, OFM, on April 1. The administration also reminds friars of two deadlines. (1) Grant applications for the Benevolence Trust are due no later than April 1. The forms, on the Grants page of the HNP website, should be submitted electronically. (2) Grant reports for the Province’s Benevolence Trust for fiscal year 2014-15 are due by April 15.
Provincial Secretary Michael Harlan, OFM, distributed a report last week about the Provincial Council’s February meeting. The document included information about a reflection on A Study of the Rule of 1223 by Michael Blastic, OFM, fraternal gatherings, regional reports and the transition process for HNP friars in Peru. The next Provincial Council meeting is March 9 and 10.

Lawrence Anderson, OFM, was recently interviewed by Siena College, where he has been chaplain since last summer. A video was posted on the school’s website.

The Province’s Ministry of the Word team held its annual meeting last week at St. Anthony Friary in St. Petersburg, Fla. Among those participating were John Anglin, OFM, and Roderic Petrie, OFM, of St. Petersburg, Raphael Bonanno, OFM, of Boston, and Kevin Cronin, OFM, and Daniel Lanahan, OFM, of Butler, N.J.

►Scott Brookbank, OFM, and the friars of St. Francis Friary in Burlington, Wis., where he is guardian, hosted the JPIC animators of the English-speaking Conference last week for their annual meeting. “First, from Feb. 9 to 11, we met with the novices, and then the animators met from Feb. 11 to 12,” said Russell Testa, the Province’s director of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation. “We also met with Fr. Richard McManus, OFM, who is one of the three coordinating the reorganization of the OFM provinces.” Photos were taken by Christian Seno, OFM.

This month marks the 10th anniversary of the opening of St. Francis Springs Prayer Center in Stoneville, N.C. In a message included in the center’s 2015 brochure, the founder and director, Louis Canino, OFM, said, “Since we opened, we have been tremendously encouraged as to how beneficial and transformative the prayer center has been for countless people. In a decade, the Prayer Center facilities and retreat opportunities have expanded. Additional outdoor trails, a Mary’s Garden, a labyrinth, an outdoor chapel and three hermitages have been added to make our retreat campus unique, attractive and popular.”

►Peter Chepaitis, OFM, reports that for him and Sr. Anna Tantsits, the co-directors of Bethany Ministries, 2014 was “an eventful” year. The directors of the 20-year-old ministry attended an ecumenical conference in Pittsburgh, “Grace in Process: 30 Years of Gestalt Pastoral Care,” that celebrated an approach to healing, spiritual direction and life that joins gestalt therapy to Christian faith and practice. During the summer, Anna went on the road, preaching for the missions of her IHM congregation while Peter preached for the Province’s Franciscan Missionary Union. They were also asked to do a reflection and benediction for the swearing in of Pete Lopez, the assemblyperson for their district. Details of their journey can be found by reading their yearly Bethany Ministries newsletter, “The Story of 2014.” Their activities for the coming months include a four-week ecumenical Lenten series in each of the Middleburgh, N.Y., churches, following the weekly community supper hosted by the Lutheran, Reformed, Catholic and United Methodist communities. They will also lead presentations on ecclesiology for the Kateri Institute for the training of lay ministers for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, N.Y., among other activities.

Valentine’s Day and Lent were the topics of the most recent posts by David Convertino, OFM, director of the HNP Development Office, on his blog The Franciscans.

In a Feb. 18 Washington Post article titled “Greening the Faith in the Washington Area,” Kevin Downey, OFM, described how parishioners of St. Francis of Assisi Church, Triangle, Va., have become more educated on environmental issues. Kevin said that “the GreenFaith program has empowered members of his Church,”according to the story. “What we strive to do is to make a transition from saying ‘this is what we do’ to ‘this is who we are.’ Who are we? We are environmentalists.”

Paintings created by David Haack, OFM, are the subject of an exhibition at St. Bonaventure University’s Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts. The retired art professor gave a gallery talk titled “Turning Left at the Intersection” on Feb. 13 in the Quick Center’s Paul and Toni Branch Gallery. The exhibition runs until March 1 and focuses on paintings David has completed since he retired in 2013. David’s talk featured his latest work, “Chapter 24 of the Earlier Rule,” and further developments of Haack Studiolo, established in 2013.

The latest column in America magazine by Daniel Horan, OFM, is titled “Examining Our Social Sins.” It appears in the Feb.  23 issue.

►Joseph Kotula, OFM, recommends a wilderness program for Christian leaders that is being held in Colorado from Aug. 14 to 16. The experience — led by Matt Syrdal, who Joseph met while on his recent sabbatical — is called “Untamed Mind of Christ.”

►Richard McFeely, OFM, reports that Holy Name Friary in Ringwood, N.J., recently finished its annual state inspection. “We received a perfect score and had no deficiencies,” he said. Richard has been guardian of the skilled nursing facility since summer 2014.

On Feb. 16, Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen, OFM, spoke at a Theology on Tap event hosted by the Young Adult Group of St. Francis of Assisi Parish, New York City. More than 30 people attended the program. “Fr. Kevin spoke about faith, morals and the role of the conscience in understanding Church teaching and how to work with our conscience to discern God’s will for us as both individuals and members of the Christian community,” said Benjamin Simpson, administrative coordinator for the vocation office and a member of St. Francis Parish. “One quote that resonated for me was ‘to be fully human is to be like Jesus.’ I found it to be a very Franciscan, incarnational point of reflection.” On Friday, Kevin will be participating in the Province’s third fraternal gathering in Wilmington, Del. On Feb. 22, he will travel to New Mexico for a meeting of the American OFM provincial ministers.

From Jan 22 to 25, Russel Murray, OFM, was in Rome to participate in a colloquium on ecumenism and religious life. The gathering was convened by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life to celebrate the Year of Consecrated Life, he said. “The colloquium brought together more than 50 men and women from across the spectrum of ecclesial traditions — Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran, Pentecostal and Evangelical — to explore how traditional religious life, in its many diverse expressions, may better serve the cause of Christian unity,” said Russel. “As I had met several of the participants over the years, particularly the members of the Society of St. Francis, an Anglican Community who were engaged in the Intra-Franciscan Ecumenical Encounters, the colloquium was a time to renew old friendships, as well as to form new ones. Two highlights were a private audience with Pope Francis and our participation in Second Vespers for the Solemnity of the Conversion of St. Paul, which Pope Francis presided over and preached at in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. It was our desire as a group that more such colloquia will be held on a regular basis, beginning in the near future (2017), to both deepen our conversations and explore the ways in which their fruit may be shared among our respective churches.”

►Paul O’Keeffe, OFM, has recently completed the first installment of the annual mission newsletter for the Secretaries for Mission and Evangelization for the ESC. Paul is chairman of the group. Later this month, he will travel to Turkey with students for their first mission trip there. “The goal of this trip is to develop an appreciation for and a more positive understanding of Islam, and to explore some of our early Christian roots in Western Turkey,” he said.

►Ronald Pecci, OFM, took the Province’s postulants on the traditional tour of the Province’s ministries in northern New Jersey and New York City. Included were visits to the farm run by Francis Kim, OFM, in western New Jersey, to Holy Name Friary in Ringwood and to Create and the St. Francis Friends of the Poor residences in New York City. Photos can be found on Facebook. Ronald, director of the HNP postulancy program for the past eight years, also visited the interprovincial novitiate, where he taught a class on St. Clare.

Last month, Daniel Riley, OFM, director of Mt. Irenaeus, and several St. Bonaventure University students participated in a weekend ministry trip to various areas of the East Coast. According to a story in The Bona Venture, the student newspaper, “The students attended the trip to show how Mt. Irenaeus plays a role in their life. As part of Franciscan tradition, Mt. Irenaeus plays a significant role in many students’ time at Bonaventure. Offering an escape from the bustle of daily college life, the Mountain offers comfort and tranquility. The fundamentals of Franciscan life, such as simplicity and connection with nature, are assimilated into the lives of guests at the mountain. Riley and his team decided to bring this same feeling to alumni who might not have the chance to feel the power of the mountain otherwise.” Among the places that the group visited were the convent of the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph in Hamburg and Buffalo, N.Y., and Assumption Catholic Church in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

►This weekend, Basil Valente, OFM, will be participating in the HNP Vocation Office’s Come and See/Discernment Weekend in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Feb. 20 to 22 event is for men who are considering life as a Franciscan friar. Many friars — both solemnly and simply professed — will participate in the retreat by giving keynote talks, leading prayers and roundtable discussions, and interviewing candidates. They include Casey Cole, OFM, Frank Critch, OFM, Joseph Hertel, OFM, Thomas Jones, OFM, Daniel Kenna, OFM, Vincent Laviano, OFM, Kevin Mackin, OFM, Raymond Mann, OFM, Jerome Massimino, OFM, Paul Santoro, OFM, and Francis Soucy, OFM. A similar weekend is set for March 20 to 22 at St. Anthony Shrine in Boston. Basil said he is grateful to the friars throughout the Province, especially the regional vocation directors and members of the vocation ministry team — Gonzalo Torres-Acosta, OFM, associate director, and Ben Simpson, coordinator — who are working passionately on vocation initiatives. “Our brothers do a fantastic job of inviting men to our many vocational events and encouraging candidates to live a consecrated life as a Franciscan friar with Holy Name Province,” Basil said. “Many friars make it a consistent practice of inviting men to prayer and meals at our friaries, which is a great way for possible inquirers to get to know the friars in a more informal setting.” Information about the programs arranged by the Province’s vocation ministry can be found on

News for the next issue of HNP Today e-letter is requested by Feb. 25, always the Wednesday before distribution. Updates about the friars and their ministries can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Topics planned for future coverage include:

  • The upcoming General Chapter of the Order of Friars Minor
  • Profiles of golden jubilarians Thomas Ennis, OFM, and Glenn Humphrey, OFM

Compiled by Jocelyn Thomas