This report was provided by one of two new friar mentors of the Province’s program for recently-professed friars. They and 10 other friars gathered from Jan. 5 to 9 for the annual discussions — a valuable opportunity for sharing ideas and for learning about Provincial updates.
PETERSBURG, Fla. — While the winds of winter whirled around the Northeast with its three and more inches of snow, the friars who have been solemnly professed under five years (SPUFY) gathered in sunny St. Petersburg for their annual gathering. This year’s program, held from Jan. 5 to 9 at St. Anthony Friary, was led by members Frank Critch, OFM, who professed his final vows in 2012, and Daniel Horan, OFM, professed in 2011.
Monday was a travel day for all. Participating friars came from places as far apart as Boston and Lima, Peru. Greetings were exchanged not only among SPUFY members, but from the resident friars of St. Anthony’s, who extended us a warm welcome.
The next morning and afternoon were spent sharing our experiences as friars over the past year. It was not only facts that were exchanged; participants had an opportunity to share deeper feelings of the highs and lows of life in general and, specifically, life as a friar in mission outside of our past formation life. The discussions were deep, honest, and sincere, and were expressed in a confidential and trusting atmosphere. Overall, it was heartening to hear of the experiences, the challenges and the happiness of these young friars. The only regret of some was that they didn’t have enough hands and feet or time to take advantage of so many opportunities for good Franciscan ministering.
Among the many opportunities for sharing and mutual support with the young friars was a forward-looking discussion led by Daniel Kenna, OFM, a member of the HNP Fraternal Life in Mission Directorate, on future ministries of the Province. One of the ongoing topics of concern is the frequency and location of future SPUFY meetings, which has not been finalized. It was the unanimous feeling of the group that these SPUFY gatherings are a vital part of their friar lives and that they are valued and necessary.
One day, we were treated to authentic Cuban food for our lunch at a Cuban café in Tampa. Our guide for that was, of course, Erick, a native of Cuba.
The week was highlighted by a visit from the Provincial, Kevin Mullen, OFM. His fraternal visit included discussions and questions about current and future issues of Holy Name Province. His affirming and supportive talk assured the young friars that he welcomes them and any of their concerns, and that he will do all in his power to assist, encourage and support them as they grow in their Franciscan vocation.
Our time ended with a dinner with the Provincial and the very welcoming friars of St. Anthony Friary.
Those attending the 2015 gathering were: Ross Chamberland, OFM, of Allegany, N.Y., Frank, of Tampa, Fla., Stephen DeWitt, OFM, of Paterson, N.J., Daniel and Mario Gomez, OFM, of Boston, Cidouane Joseph, OFM, of Hartford, Conn., Erick Lopez, OFM, of Silver Spring, Md., and Paul O’Keeffe, OFM, Michael Reyes, OFM, and Edgardo Zea, OFM, of Loudonville, N.Y. Also attending were the two new mentors for the program: Walter Liss, OFM, of Siena College near Albany, N.Y., and me.
— Fr. Michael, guardian of Juniper Friary in Philadelphia, has been part of the team running the St. Francis Inn soup kitchen since 1987. He professed his final vows as a Franciscan friar in 1970.