“How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity” (Psalm 133).
In the spirit of revitalization and restructuring, friars from Holy Name and Immaculate Conception provinces – the two East Coast-based OFM communities – got together recently at three venues to worship and to get to know each other. At these gatherings – held in New York City, Boston, and Loudonville, N.Y. – the friars participated in prayer and fellowship and shared a meal.
Though the locations and the dates varied, all three events offered prayer services centered on commemorations of the feast of All Souls of the Seraphic Order.
In New York City, Immaculate Conception Province hosted an event at St. Anthony of Padua Church on Sullivan Street on Nov. 29. More than 30 friars from the New York metropolitan area attended the evening gathering in Little Italy.
Beginning with the celebration of Vespers, presided over by Fr. Robert Campagna, OFM, provincial minister of Immaculate Conception Province, the group later moved into the parish hall for a festive dinner. “Prayer, conversation and great food made the evening a delightful way to continue to strengthen the bond that has always existed between all the East Coast friars,” said Robert Frazzetta, OFM, of Butler, N.J.
Further north, outside the state’s capital, Immaculate Conception members from three towns – Albany, Catskill and Troy – joined Holy Name friars at St. Bernardine of Siena Friary on Nov. 21.
“On behalf of the Siena friary, I was delighted to invite the friars from IC to our friary,” said Mark Reamer, OFM, guardian, who organized the prayer gathering. “In October, we invited them to commemorate the feast of St. Francis.”
In Boston, St. Anthony Shrine held a gathering on Nov. 29. John Hogan, OFM, guardian, sent a letter of invitation to the local houses of Immaculate Conception Province friars inviting them to the event. The Arch Street friar community welcomed friars from St. Christopher’s Friary and from St Leonard’s Friary in the North End. The evening began in the friars’ chapel where the guardian welcomed the visitors.
After the evening prayer, the friars gathered in the community recreation room for a fraternal time of sharing during preprandium. At 6 p.m., the friars were welcomed into the friary dining room for dinner and dessert. “Everyone enjoyed the evening,” said John Maganzini, OFM, vicar of the Shrine.
A few days later, the guardian received a note from Fr. Robert Caprio, OFM, that began, “Dear John and community, thank you so much for an enjoyable evening as we celebrated. ‘Ecce quam bonum.’” (Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity.)
“There is a strong historical link that binds the friars of the two provinces together,” said Robert Frazzetta, a member of the Provincial Council. “By virtue of the fact that our provincial headquarters are both in New York City, we have had numerous opportunities through the years to join one another for fraternal events as well as to help one another in various apostolic and pastoral ministries. During this time of planning for restructuring and revitalization, it is all the more important for us to come together for events such as this.”
The idea for the gatherings grew out of conversations at the autumn meeting of the English-speaking Conference leaders. At their meeting in Montréal, the U.S. provincials agreed to host one-evening interprovincial gatherings in locations where friars from different provinces live in geographical proximity to each other.
These gatherings were intended to be simple, comprising evening prayer, preprandium and dinner, said Provincial Vicar Lawrence Hayes, OFM, one of two moderators of the revitalization and restructuring process for the U.S. provinces.
The prayer services, which were prepared by Fr. Dan Anderson, OFM, the other R&R moderator, were designed for the Commemoration of All Saints of the Seraphic Order and the Commemoration of All Souls of the Seraphic Order.
Several friars commented on their experiences.
“Our brothers from the Immaculate Conception Province were very gracious hosts for this special gathering, and they provided a wonderful opportunity for shared prayer, dinner and conversation,” said Michael Harlan, OFM, Provincial Secretary for Holy Name Province, who attended the New York City event. “It was great evening for the friars from the two provinces, living in the New York and New Jersey area, to come together to get to know one another, and to be reunited with some friars we had met previously.”
“The prayer experience was a good one,” said Julian Davies, OFM, of Siena. “Some little differences in translation were inspiring. I got to talk at length with an IC friar who I had never met and enjoyed speaking with him about my classmate the late Justin Bailey, OFM, who had lived with the Italian friars in Toronto and in Andover.”
“With their blessing, and the assistance of the prayers of all the saints of the Seraphic Order, these gatherings will hopefully one day be the norm and not the exception for the brothers of the Provinces of Immaculate Conception and Holy Name to gather and dwell in unity,” said Robert.
Earlier this year, friars found common ground at interprovincial gathers held across the United States. In 2017, friars from across the United States will be gathering at two interprovincial retreats — in Arizona and Florida.
— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.
- “ESC Leaders Hold Fall Meeting in Montreal” – Oct. 19, 2016, HNP Today
- “Immaculate Conception Province Elects New Provincial” – May 18, 2016, HNP Today
- “Interprovincial Gatherings Another Phase of Revitalization/Reconfiguration Process” – Nov. 21, 2015, HNP Today