From the Provincial Minister’s Desk

HNP Communications In the Headlines

The reflection below is one in a series written by Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, about his observations and experiences as leader of Holy Name Province. The previous installment appeared in the Oct. 23 issue of HNP Today.

Dear brothers and partners-in-ministry,

As I write this letter, I hope that all of you had a blessed Thanksgiving. I celebrated the day at home — at St. Francis Friary in New York City — with the friars. My dad joined us and is much improved after spending several days in the hospital with what was initially diagnosed as congestive heart failure.  I offer my deepest appreciation for your many expressions of concern and your prayers.

Pope’s Apostolic Exhortation
As I look beyond the Province, I would recommend that, when you have a chance, you read Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation “The Joy of the Gospel,” that begins to spell out his vision for the Church. This represents, in my opinion, a dramatic new vision for the Church — a Church that moves beyond clericalism and self-righteousness, a Church that is not afraid to take the necessary risks to become involved in a faulted and imperfect world, in order to spread the hope of the Gospel message, and a Church that challenges the economic structures that oppress the poor.

Wherever I go these days, people are taking about this pope. Several have told me they have come back to the Church because of him.

Back here at home, I was privileged to take part in the ordination of Paul Keenan, OFM, at our church in Wood-Ridge, N.J. This was a great celebration. The church was packed, the music was superb, the ordaining bishop, a very pastoral person, the spirit of all in attendance, outstanding. Some 50 friars came out to show support for their brother Paul.

Guardians’ Meeting
From there, I traveled to the guardians’ meeting in Florida. Jim Toal, OFM, and the friar community were their usual gracious hosts. For the first time, the guardians in attendance were able to worship in the beautiful new friary chapel.

The meeting had several different components. Monday was devoted to the guardians sharing their personal experiences over the past year, and my presentation on the state of the Province. On Tuesday, there were presentations by Bob Craig and David Tiger on finances and employee relations and policies. In the afternoon, there were reports from our Vocation Office, the Development Office and the Communications Office.

One of the most interesting presentations of the week was done by Ashley Harness from the Auburn Group. This was a workshop on how to effectively deal with the media. The friars assembled had high praise for the presentation and interaction of the day.

And so I am back in New York now after traveling some 30,000 miles since the end of September.  It’s good to be back! By the way, if you have not been to 31st Street lately, you ‘ll notice that the block is really coming alive. Three new restaurants have opened up directly across the street from the friary, the City University of New York moved its School of Professional Studies to the building next to the friary, and work has begun on a new apartment tower on 6th Avenue and 31st Street.

That’s all for now. Please be assured that you will all be in my prayers this Advent season. See you around the Province.

 Fr. John, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., is the 15th friar to serve as Provincial Minister of Holy Name Province. His term concludes in June at the 2014 Chapter.