Recently-Professed Friars Gather for Support

Frank Critch, OFM Friar News

SPUFY participants together in the friary chapel with their mentors – Steven Patti, third from left, and Michael Duffy, third from right. (Photo courtesy of Michael Reyes)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The friars of Holy Name Province professed under five years, known as SPUFY, gathered from Jan. 2 to 6 at St. Anthony Friary in St. Petersburg for their annual Intercession. The friars present were John Aherne, OFM, George Camacho, OFM, Ross Chamberland, OFM, Mario Gomez, OFM, Edgardo Jara, OFM, Jeffery Jordan, OFM, Michael Reyes, OFM, and me. Also participating were Michael Duffy, OFM, and Steven Patti, OFM, the mentors for the group.

John, who professed his final vows as a Franciscan with Edgardo and George in August 2016, summed up the purpose of this annual gathering: “SPUFY is a good way to connect with the other recently solemnly professed brothers in the Province, which is especially important to me living in the Holy Name outpost of Chicago.  It’s helpful to hear both the joys and the challenges of our friar life. It also didn’t hurt that it was 80 degrees and sunny.”

“It was a grace-filled week,” said Michael Reyes, of Tampa, Fla., who was professed in 2014. “I truly value the sharing and the fraternal encouragement I received from the friars and friar-mentors.”

For many of us, SPUFY is the only contact we have with each other throughout the year – apart from phone calls and social media – where we sit and discuss our year, the challenges faced and our hopes for the future. Each day during these gatherings we met and gave each other ample time to give individual reports and reflections. George, who was experiencing his first SPUFY, said, “It was wonderful to gather with other friars who have recently professed final vows.  Although we reside in different communities and parts of the world, we share some common experiences and struggles.  It is helpful to touch base with one another to offer mutual support and to share some laughter as well.”

The hospitality and generosity of the St. Anthony Friary community is always a highlight of our get together. Joseph Hertel, OFM, the guardian, and the friars welcomed us and encouraged us through their words and fraternal embrace. John said, “I also enjoyed spending time with the community of St. Pete’s – a truly good group of men.” It is always a pleasure to connect with the friars of the province who have and continue to be an amazing fraternal witness to Franciscan values and ministry. George echoed this, “I appreciate the generosity of the friar community of St. Petersburg as well as the beautiful setting for this program,” adding, “I also appreciate the kind support from our friar mentors.”

Michael Duffy and Steve Patti were invaluable through their presence and support. We know they are there to listen, to encourage and to challenge us. They are present in listening to the group as well as to individual friars who call upon them for mentoring and support.

As this was my last SPUFY gathering, I reflect on the next stage of the journey, wherever that may be and wherever the Good Lord sends me. I know that through it all, I have friars who were part of the initial formation and SPUFY who are not only my brothers but have become my best friends. I appreciate the experience of SPUFY, not only the week we spend together, but also the five years of support, through oftentimes challenging experiences, for they have been blessed experiences of brotherhood. I am hopeful and optimistic this fraternal experience will continue for many years in the future.

— Fr. Frank, a resident of Macon, Ga., professed his final vows in 2012.

Editors’ note: Information about the HNP Vocation Ministry and formation program can be found on the Be a Franciscan website and Facebook page.

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