The reflection below, the third in a series, was written by Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, on Oct. 31, two days after Hurricane Sandy hit the New York City area.
NEW YORK — I am sitting in my office as I write this article where, for a third day, the office is officially closed as our staff cannot get into the city. Dominic Monti, OFM, Michael Harlan, OFM, and I are “holding down the fort.” Unfortunately, our task has been complicated by a lack of computer service here in Manhattan. There is no indication of when we will be online again.
As challenging as our situation is, it does not compare with the plight of the hundreds of thousands of people who have no power and, in some cases, no water. Indeed, “Sandy” has left her mark on the metropolitan New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area. We have been fortunate here in Midtown Manhattan to have electric service. Today is the first day that the city is beginning to come back to life, though it still has no mass transit service. We continue to be in touch with our friars who lost power, especially those on the New Jersey Shore, who were evacuated.
In some good news, we have begun the fall series of regional days, and the response of the friars so far has been very positive. I had the opportunity to facilitate the first fraternal gathering in St. Petersburg. As always, it was good to visit with our friars in St. Pete. While there, guardian Jim Toal, OFM, gave me a tour of the soon-to-be completed chapel. It is beautiful and a major improvement over the current friary chapel. Many thanks to Fred Dilger, OFM, for using his incredible talents to choose the interior design for the chapel.
After I left St. Pete, I traveled to the Poor Clare Monastery in Ft. Myers for a celebration for their chaplain’s 100th birthday. Their chaplain, Fr. Raney, is an affiliate of Holy Name Province. It was also a celebration of the Poor Clare Sisters who are clearly beloved by the people. The bishop of the diocese, Bishop Frank Dewane, presided at the Eucharist and I concelebrated with Fr. Regis Armstrong, OFM Cap (known to a number of friars) and eight diocesan priests.
Encuentro and Ordination
I left Fr. Myers and flew to Washington, D.C., where I attended the Encuentro gathering at St. Camillus Parish. It was a superb celebration with some 1,200 people from our Spanish-speaking ministries attending. The day was filled with prayer, presentations by the friars, moments of personal faith sharing, and song. The parishioners served a very nice hot lunch, which is no easy task when you have to feed 1,200! The day reminded me of just how important Latino ministry has become in our Province.
That wraps it up for now. Next, I am off to Triangle, Va., for the ordination of Frank Critch, OFM. This is my last ordination as Provincial as there is none next year. A huge crowd is expected and I’m sure it will be a great day.
— Fr. John, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., is the 15th friar to serve as Provincial Minister of Holy Name Province.