NEW YORK — Family and friends gathered last month for an event that was called “beautiful, grace-filled and reminiscent of a family reunion and a spiritual revival.” Seven friars who are marking major anniversaries of profession this year were honored at a June 22 Mass celebrated by Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen, OFM, at St. Francis of Assisi Church on West 31st Street.
The friars marking 50 years since their first profession are: Russell Becker, OFM, of Tokyo, Japan; John Capozzi, OFM, of Margate, N.J.; Eric Carpine, OFM, of St. Petersburg, Fla.; Anthony LoGalbo, OFM, of Boston; William McConville, OFM, of Durham, N.C.; and Robert Menard, OFM, of Clemson, S.C. Celebrating 25 years as a friar is Jacques LaPointe, OFM, of Boston.
“The jubilee celebration liturgy was beautiful,” said Eric. “The music and, especially the involvement of the jubilarians as part of the Mass were very special.”
As he welcomed friars and their guests, Kevin said, “We gather to give thanks that, for 25 and 50 years, these brothers have embodied the values of St. Francis and of Jesus.”
In his homily, a video of which can be found on the Facebook page of St. Anthony’s Guild, Kevin said, “Often we’re asked who the ideal friar is. That cannot be answered because each person brings unique gifts to his ministry.”
“The brothers that we come to celebrate are men who heard the call and who brought their gifts to share,” said Kevin, mentioning characteristics and skills that the friars have given – including “hospitality, the gift of healing, intellectual strength, spiritual companionship, and a talent for evangelization.”
“These brothers have taken the gifts that God gave them and shared them,” said Kevin, who was elected Provincial Minister in 2014. “We celebrate not just endurance, but that they continue to give.”
After the homily, the jubilarians – in one voice – renewed their vows.
At the conclusion of the Mass, Kevin thanked the music ministers, as well as others involved in arranging the Mass. He acknowledged “the friars here at 31st Street” and said “I want to welcome and thank our brothers’ families and friends,” adding “It’s wonderful that there are also brothers here from outside our Province.”
Provincial Secretary Michael Harlan, OFM, who was acknowledged for the details he arranged for the celebration – including the invitation, liturgy and reception – said “It is one of the most special Provincial celebrations each year. I enjoy planning and organizing the event honoring our brothers who have been part of our Franciscan life for 25 and 50 years.”
Many friars took part in the liturgy. Russell proclaimed the first reading and Jacques proclaimed the second reading. Christopher Coccia, OFM, served as deacon. Timothy Shreenan, OFM, was director of liturgy and master of ceremonies. The music team comprised Meredith Augustin, the parish’s director of music ministries, organist Jared Lamenzo, and Liam Mulligan, cantor. Provincial Vicar Lawrence Hayes, OFM, and councilors Frederick Dilger, OFM, and Robert Frazzetta, OFM, took part in the Communion Rite.
Several jubilarians expressed their appreciation for the celebration.
“The Mass was jubilant and inspirational,” said Anthony. “I thought the jubilee celebration was like a family reunion and spiritual revival rolled into one. The reception was a happy and warm family event. It really left me on a high.”
Eric agreed, “I was flying high on the joy of celebrating with so many friars, having my family and friends there, and how happy everyone was for our life’s pledge and devotion.”
“The reception following the jubilee Mass was exquisite,” added Eric, who, when he led the general intercessions during Mass, mentioned a late classmate, James Jones, OFM, who died in 2011. “I’m filled with thanks.”
“What a great occasion it was,” said William. “Many of the friars who have been part of my 50-year journey in the Franciscan life were there. Their genuine expressions of congratulations truly lifted my spirit. I delighted in the laughter and stories we have told and retold. The liturgy was beautifully celebrated. Kevin truly rose to the occasion. I was especially moved to be singing a hymn by Anthony Fedell, OFM. He was a brilliant musician and a close friend. I preached his funeral homily. I wept as I sang it.”
He continued, “I spent much of Thursday as a retreat day, reading the Rule of 1221. I meditated on it as I walked the High Line, which was a new experience. It is splendid. As I was jostled by the crowds, I thought ‘this is a Franciscan thing’ – a pilgrim, but feeling connected. All in all, it was a grace-filled and graceful occasion, surrounded by my family, my friar brothers, and close friends.”
Robert Menard agreed. “The jubilee celebration was amazing. I felt affirmed as a Friar Minor, a brother, and as a member of a loving family. I also felt encouraged to ‘keep on keeping on’ and to remain open to future challenges that our Franciscan life will confront. In gratitude, I owe that much to God and to the younger brothers coming along.
“It was especially heartening to see many of the friars who were students in formation when I was serving on the formation team now serving as provincial, pastors, missionaries, educators, liturgists, guardians and in so many other ways. What could be better than that?
“All in all,” said Robert, “my feelings are captured by the poet W.B. Yeats in his poem ‘My Fiftieth Year’”:
My fiftieth year had come and gone,
I sat, a solitary man,
In a crowded London shop,
An open book and empty cup
On the marble table-top.
While on the shop and street I gazed
My body of a sudden blazed;
And twenty minutes more or less
It seemed, so great my happiness,
That I was blessed and could bless.
Photos of the 2017 jubilee celebration taken by Octavio Duran, OFM, can be found on the Facebook pages of the Franciscans Friars of Holy Name Province and St. Anthony’s Guild, a fundraising partner of the Province.
— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communication for Holy Name Province.
- “Salamanca native marks 50 years as Franciscan friar” – July 4, 2017, The Salamanca Press
- “Cathedral Educated Franciscan Friar Reflects on 50 Years of Ministry” – June 27, 2017, MassLive
- “Province Honors 14 Friars for Profession Anniversaries” – June 29, 2016, HNP Today