The reflection below is the last 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 April 16 issue.
Dear brothers and partners-in-ministry,
It was with a saddened heart that I heard of the news that our former Minister General Fr. Giacomo Bini, OFM, died. I had the opportunity of being with him on several occasions, including the General Chapter and the Extraordinary Chapter of the Order. He was a gem of a human being — a great friar, a simple man and a true example of what it means to be a Franciscan.
I remember especially his time with us at the Chapter of Mats that we had at Friar Tuck Inn, many years ago. His presentation was a delightful mix of humor, insight and wisdom. His presence will be missed in the Order and especially at the next General Chapter in 2015.
This will be my last report to you as your Minister Provincial. Here at home, I have just completed my final fraternal visit to some of the houses in the Province. I was not able to get to every friary, but I attempted to visit as many as possible, especially the larger houses. Since I last wrote to you, I visited Arch Street, Siena College, North and South Carolina, and was the guest at a very nice dinner with the New Jersey friars hosted by Frank Sevola, OFM, and the Pompton Lakes friars. Some 30 friars attended. It was a great evening with a superb Italian buffet dinner.
Last week, the friars in New York City hosted a dinner for the Provincial Council and me at 31st Street. On Wednesday, we had our last liturgy and Council meeting for this administration. In between attending to some last-minute Provincial business, I am beginning the process of packing and preparing to move. I have enjoyed the community at 31st Street and the new friary, but unlike Frank Sinatra, New York is not “my kind of town,” and I look forward to moving out of the city. Many have said to me but it’s such an exciting place to live!” It is, but I like a city with a bit less excitement. Maybe it’s old age setting in!
Several friars have asked me what’s next. I plan to take a nice long vacation. I haven’t had one in many years. In the meantime, I have four possibilities for ministry and will decide in the next three weeks which to pursue.
And so, brothers, my nine years in office come to an end. Though it has had its difficult moments, I have enjoyed the challenges and, most of all, I am grateful for the chance to have served you as your Provincial. I wish you all the best and God’s many blessings. See you at the chapter.
— Fr. John, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., is the 15th friar to serve as Provincial Minister of Holy Name Province. His term concludes June 1 when the 2014 chapter begins.