RINGWOOD, N.J. — A tour of the new St. Francis Friary and Holy Name Provincial Office on West 31st St. in Manhattan was arranged for the “senior friar” residents of Holy Name Friary here on Aug. 22 by Francis Soucy, OFM, director and guardian. Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, had suggested the visit. Francis and 10 friars made the trip via a chartered bus. They were accompanied by several staff members, as well as friars from St. Anthony Residence in Butler, N.J., who also took advantage of the opportunity to see the building that opened just last year.
After departing the bus from its reserved space in front of St. Francis Church, the visitors were first awed by the 63 floors of The Epic tower on West 32nd St. The apartment and office building seemed to challenge the height of the Empire State building, a short distance to the east.
Glances at the familiar stairs and doorway leading to the former four-story friary revealed that the building is now designated as St. Francis House to provide office space for the many new outreach ministries of the parish.
Dominic Monti, OFM, Jerome Massimino, OFM, and the Provincial graciously welcomed the visitors. They were then ushered to the entrance of the new complex at 129 West 31st St., and taken upstairs by two elevators to the third floor area of the new friary.
Several friars of the community gave them a tour of the dining area that connected to the recreation area and sprawling outdoor patio. Lunch was provided, followed by a tour of the new Provincial offices on the second floor.
In addition, Kenan Morris, OFM, was grateful for the effort he made to walk over to see the newly-restored upper church.
Giles Bello, OFM, who served as secretary of the Province in the 1970s, marveled at the layout of the new Province office area. “That the new construction resulted in some structural changes in the Provincial offices would be the understatement of the year. I needed someone to guide me around to point out where the old offices I was familiar with were located in the new facility.”
Robert Lynch, OFM, noted, “Actually seeing the new friary and offices was so much better than simply reading about them previously.”
Robert Nee, OFM, who had served at the church during the 1980s after 26 years as a missionary in Brazil, commented, “I enjoyed the trip very much. The food was fantastic.”
Others who took the tour were Martin Hanhauser, OFM, Matthew Gaskin, OFM, Depaul Genska, OFM,Bonaventure Hayes, OFM, Thomas Ennis, OFM, and Aloysius Siracuse, OFM.
The bus ride also drew rave reviews from the friars. Their chauffeur was Dave Tenney, a veteran driver for many of the pilgrimages formerly sponsored by the Franciscan Family Circle. Callistus Bamberg, OFM, one of the directors of the office, who had often traveled with Dave, arranged the contact with him for the trip.
A collage of photos taken on the visit by one of the nurses was posted on the Ringwood bulletin board, enabling those who could not make the trip to gain at least a visual appreciation of the scenes of the new complex.
In an e-mail of appreciation to John, and to Jerome and his community, Francis thanked them “for the uplifting experience you provided for our sick brethren. They also renewed the sense of belonging to the Province. You provided a day that helped them realize, through fraternity, that they remain intimate members of Holy Name Province. I am personally grateful in an inexpressible way because when I see these friars who have ministered diligently and selflessly through the years to a multitude of people beam with happiness, I vicariously share their joy.”
— Fr. Cassian, a senior associate friar at Assumption Parish in Wood-Ridge, N.J., is temporarily living at the Ringwood community, a skilled nursing facility.