The reflection below is the first in a series by Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen, OFM, about his observations and experiences as leader of Holy Name Province.
As I begin my third month as Provincial Minister, I am concluding a hectic transition that has taken place at a number of levels.
At the work level, I needed to step into my role as Provincial Minister while leaving my job as Siena College’s president. Edward Coughlin, OFM, and I met extensively over the summer to discuss Siena, the presidency and issues Ed will be working on, to enable him to begin his role as interim president with a greater sense of awareness and preparedness. As for myself, I have stayed in touch with John O’Connor, OFM, and other members of the previous administration to gain background knowledge about the current state of the Province.
On a fraternal level, this transition has required me to move from a college campus to the largest urban setting in the United States. Though the physical move was daunting, one thing was easy — I moved from one large community to another large community. In the midst of this move, there was a lot of support. People reached out to help me and to lighten the load — both people at Siena, expressing their gratitude, and people welcoming me here in New York.
Solemn Profession and Fraternal Visits
Last month, I took part in the solemn profession of three friars at St. Francis Church in New York City. This was a very significant event for me and a moment of firsts — the first time I presided in St. Francis Church, the first time I preached at that church and my first time as Provincial receiving vows of friars.
The solemn profession was a moment of grace, both for me and for the Province and the three friars. I felt immense gratitude for what God has done in their lives, and the gift they are to the Province, to the Order and to the people of God. This was a joyous celebration, one I was grateful to be part of. Those who prepared the liturgy did an outstanding job.
This week, I began my first fraternal visits around the Province with trips to Boston and Hartford. The purpose of these trips is to provide fraternal support and encouragement — to be with the friars, to pray with them, share a meal with them, support their life and ministry, and to be present if anyone wants to speak with me. Without a lot of fanfare, I would like to visit as many local fraternities as possible in the coming years. I’m making this a priority and these visits will become a regular part of my schedule.
Guardians’ Meeting and Upcoming Events
Next week, the guardians’ meeting will take place from Sept. 16 to 17 at St. Mary’s Carnevale Center in Pompton Lakes, N.J. In moving this important meeting of the Province’s leadership from November to September, we hope to keep the spirit of the chapter alive and also to follow up on some of the chapter mandates, particularly strengthening fraternal life. We hope that during this gathering, the guardians will establish trust among themselves and the Provincial Administration, a feeling they will be able to convey back to the communities they serve.
During the guardians’ meeting, I will share what unfolded during the meeting of U.S. provincials in Racine, Wis. I would also like to speak with the guardians about some of the implications of realignment and reorganization for all of us in Holy Name Province, and look for their advice as I prepare for another meeting with the U.S. provincials on Oct. 6.
In addition to prayer, reflection and discussion, some practical administrative items will also be covered. One of the highlights of the meeting will be gathering with the communities in North Jersey. This includes prayer and the evening meal at St. Anthony’s Friary in Butler.
The day after the guardians’ meeting, on Sept. 18, the Provincial Council will hold its monthly meeting at Holy Name Friary in Ringwood, N.J. The day will begin with prayer with the community there and we will join the friars for lunch before concluding the council meeting. Having council meetings outside of New York City allows us to be present to the friars and to avail ourselves to them. Each year, we will have several meetings in various places to put ourselves in the midst of the Province.
After the council meeting, I will be on my way to St. Bonaventure University, where I will participate in my first board of trustees meeting on Sept. 19 and 20.
As my term as Provincial Minister continues, I look forward to seeing you all around the Province.
— Fr. Kevin, a native of Paterson, N.J., is the 16th friar to serve as Provincial Minister of Holy Name Province. His term began in June 2014.