The following descriptions summarize news from the English-speaking Conference of the Order of Friars Minor, which comprises provinces and custodies in Canada, England, Ireland, Lithuania, Malta, and the United States. Follow the ESC on Facebook for up-to-date information throughout the month. The April ESC round-up included news about the provincials’ spring meeting, the Canadian friars discussing the future of a retreat center, and the closing of a friary in Ireland.
► A group of young Irish friars has produced a video in which they speak of their faith journey and what draws them to the Franciscan way of life. In the video, they talk about how the Franciscan charism leads to service to the poor and the suffering, and the emphasis that the Irish province has historically put on foreign missions.
► The Australian province has released the program for the 2019 conference of the Franciscan Schools Australia, being held Aug. 7 to 9 at the ACU Leadership Centre in Brisbane. A keynote speaker is Daniel Horan, OFM. author of “Dating God” and other books on Franciscan spirituality. Registration for the event can be done online.
► In Canada, Fr. Pierre Ducharme, OFM, pastor of St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Richmond, spoke about the impact that philosopher, philanthropist, and visionary Jean Vanier made in his country. Vanier died May 7, at age 90. As word traveled from Paris, where he spent his last hours, to Canada’s west coast, people were already calling for his canonization. “He was always described as a living saint, and I have no doubt about that,” said Fr. Pierre, a member of Holy Spirit Province. Vanier founded L’Arche and Faith and Light, international organizations that stress the inclusion and inherent dignity of people with developmental disabilities. He was a companion of the Order of Canada, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, and a Templeton Prize recipient.
► The Lithuanian province’s website recently highlighted the life of the late Fr. Augustinas Felted, OFM, on his birthday, April 3. Fr. Augustin was the founder and rector of the Franciscan Gymnasium (high school), a former provincial and a martyr in Siberia. Although the gymnasium was closed during the Soviet occupation, it has reopened and the friars today strive to maintain the Franciscan spirit of its founder. Fr. Augustinas, with many intellectuals, scientists and priests, was convicted by the Soviets during their occupation of Lithuania and was condemned to Siberia, where he died as a martyr for the faith.
► In England, several friars are marking jubilees this year. Among them are two commemorating 70 years since first profession — Fr. Brian McGrath, OFM, and Fr. Austin Linus McCormack, OFM. Fr. Antony Collins, OFM, is celebrating 50 years as a friar. Fr. Finbarr Flanagan, OFM, is celebrating 40 of ordination, and Fr. Augustine Khanyile, OFM, is celebrating 40 years since first vows.
► In Marsascala, Malta, 16 friar-priests, seven religious sisters and 12 members of the Secular Franciscans participated in a popular mission at St. Anne Parish. Among the activities were visits to families, meetings for adolescents and youth, catechism for parents, preparation for the sacraments of baptism and confirmation, visiting children at the primary school and spiritual exercises, the stations of the cross, adoration and confession.
► Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Province, headquartered in Wisconsin, is highlighting the work of Br. Michael May, OFM, who serves the senior friars of the province at a time when they are feeling anything but joyful. He works as the coordinator for senior care at Queen of Peace Friary in Burlington, Wis. His roles include consoler, sage, servant and apostle. With a background that includes work as an orderly, a surgical technician, and nurse, Br. Michael entered the Order 1984 and in 1987 began working in pastoral care at Rush Presbyterian Oak Park Hospital. Br. Michael returned to Pulaski, Wis., in 2005 as guardian of the Assumption Friary, caring for the elderly friars. He moved to Queen of Peace Friary in Burlington, in 2008 and served as guardian there until 2011. He currently helps to care for the elderly friars and visits the friars at Milwaukee Catholic Home and St. Anne’s Salvatorian campus.
► St. Barbara Province, which is based in California, is highlighting a video of Br. James Lockman, OFM, explaining the work that he calls “Healing the Earth.” Br. James currently works as senior vegetation and restoration ecologist for a company that restores natural habitats around California. He received his master’s in environmental horticulture from the University of California, Davis.
► Cincinnati-based St. John the Baptist Province is promoting the preaching of Fr, Joe Ricchini, OFM. In an article published where Fr. Joe says, “I try to introduce them to living the mysteries by making up a story. They may not pick up the mysteries fully, but the story gives them something to think about. I’m trying to make something abstract a little more concrete.”
► The April newsletter of the New York City-based Immaculate Conception Province, along with newsletters of all the other U.S. provinces, can be viewed in the friars-only section of the US Franciscans website.
– Br. Jim is communications assistant for the HNP Communications Office and webmaster for US Franciscans.
- “Canadian Provinces Unify During Historic Chapter” – Oct. 30, 2018, HNP Today