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. It was written on Jan. 24, before John departed New York for commitments in the South. The previous installment appeared in the Dec. 4 issue of HNP Today.
Dear brothers and partners-in-ministry,
A happy new year to all. I hope that you are all doing well and keeping warm in this old-fashioned winter weather!
As I look at my last months in office, I sense the time will go quickly. I am beginning to finalize plans for life after being Provincial. The chapter will be here before you know it. Dan McLellan, OFM, in conjunction with Fr. Mel Jurisich, OFM, our Visitator General, and the chapter planning committee, has been working hard on the agenda. The upcoming spring fraternal gatherings will help prepare us for the chapter discussions.
I do hope that as many of you as possible will attend the regional days and the chapter itself. Close to 200 friars attended our last chapter. It would be great if we could have a similar turnout at this chapter. Because this is a chapter of election, it takes on a special importance. I want to especially encourage my older friar brothers to attend the chapter. This chapter could well be one of the most important in the history of our Province. We need your wisdom and insights.
We are currently working with the folks at Siena College to arrange for appropriate facilities and living accommodations. For any of you who may have difficulty walking a great distance, we will make sure there are a variety of vehicles — golf carts and the like — to get you from building to building.
I recently returned from Wilmington, Del., where I had the privilege of presiding at the Province’s Martin Luther King Jr. celebration, which included Mass at St Joseph Church and a very nice reception after. Bishop Francis Malooly welcomed me to the parish and spoke of his great appreciation for the ministry of the friars in his diocese. The Delaware state congressman — only one, because of the state’s small population — was present at the Mass, as were some members of the Delaware state legislature. I extend my thanks to Paul Williams, OFM, and the parish leadership for being superb hosts.
Upcoming trips for me include a fraternal visit to the St. Petersburg friary and visits to several Poor Clare monasteries. I have promised the Poor Clares that I will visit as many of their monasteries as possible before I leave office. In a short time, during the week of February 10, I will participate in a meeting of the OFM provincials of the United States to plan the agenda for discussions that will take place at the summer chapters of the provinces, concerning the collaboration and possible merging of provinces. It should be an interesting week.
I continue to ask God’s blessing on all of you in your fraternities and the many ministries in which you are involved.. I will be back next month with more updates. All the best.
— 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.