Six Friars Profess Solemn Vows

Jocelyn Thomas In the Headlines

NEW YORK — Five Holy Name Province friars and one from the Custody of the Holy Land professed their final vows Aug. 23 at the newly-renovated St. Francis of Assisi Church on West 31st Street here. 

Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, celebrated the Mass, assisted by Provincial Vicar Dominic Monti, OFM, and Francis Di Spigno, OFM, director of post-novitiate formation. Rev. Br. Matthew Russick, TOR, served as deacon.
Friends, family members and colleagues joined the celebration. They came from many Province parishes and schools, including Siena College, St. Bonaventure University, St. Mary Church in Providence, R.I., and St. Patrick-St. Anthony Church in Hartford.

In his welcome, John called attention to both this milestone occasion and the recent renovations at St. Francis Church. “We celebrate the journey that these men have made and the beautiful place in which we celebrate.”

The friars who professed their vows on the sunny Saturday morning were Kyle Haden, OFM, Linh Ngoc Hoang, OFM, Hugh Macsherry, OFM, Steven Mimnaugh, OFM, and Harry Monaco, OFM, of Holy Name Province. The profession also included Fadi Azar, OFM, of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land.

Varied Backgrounds
Kyle Haden was born in Berlin, Germany, and grew up in Kansas City, Kan. He earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in history from the University of Missouri, Kansas City, as well as a master’s of divinity degree from the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. After ordination in 1997 for the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kyle ministered to three rural parishes in Easton, Kan. He currently lives at St. Stephen of Hungary Church on East 82nd Street in Manattan while pursuing a doctoral degree at Fordham University in the Bronx.

Kyle came to know the friars through a Holy Name Province friar who ministered in the Archdiocese of Kansas City.

“My conversion to the Roman Catholic Church was deeply influenced by the life of St. Francis,” he said. “His simplicity, devotion to the Gospel and compassion for the poor challenged me.”

“After living alone as a diocesan priest for some time, I decided I needed a community to share my life with.  I naturally went with the charism that first attracted me to both the Church and to ministry.”

Linh Hoang was born in Saigon, Vietnam, and fled in 1975 with his parents and siblings to the United States where they settled in Lebo, Kan. Linh earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium. He also earned both a master’s in theology and a master’s of divinity from Catholic Theological Union. In 2006, Linh completed a doctorate in theology from Fordham University. He teaches religion at Siena College near Albany, N.Y.

Hugh MacSherry, who was born and reared in Baltimore, attended the University of Maryland, where he earned bachelor’s degrees in philosophy and classical languages and literature in 1997, and in secondary education and foreign languages in 2001. He taught middle school Spanish in the Montgomery County School System in Maryland, before joining the friars.

Since joining Holy Name, Hugh has felt very happy. “The community of brothers has affirmed me and supported me.”

Stephen Mimnaugh was born and reared in Simsbury, Conn. After earning a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Vermont, he worked as an account manager in the financial services industry in Philadelphia.

He holds a master’s degree in liberal arts with a concentration in urban studies from the University of Pennsylvania.

He came to know the friars in the early 1990s, when he was a seminarian studying in New York.

Harry Monaco, a native of Ballston Spa, N.Y., earned a bachelor’s degree in history from St. Bonaventure University in Allegany, N.Y., where he currently teaches and works in campus ministry. Harry, who also holds a master’s degree in social work from Boston College in Boston, Mass., and a master’s in divinity degree from the Washington Theological Union, is working on a master’s degree in Franciscan studies at St. Bonaventure. 

Fadi Azar, who lived with the Holy Name friars in Silver Spring, Md., during formation, is a native of Jordan. He will continue his studies for the priesthood, along with Harry, Hugh, Linh and Stephen.

Milestone Marked
The profession held much meaning for these friars.

Hugh said that the solemn profession is a public statement of his intention to live as part of the community of Franciscan friars for the rest of his life. 

“I am sharing my vocation with the whole Church and am asking for the support of everyone who celebrates this profession with me,” he said. “God has called me to many wonderful and challenging experiences in my life that have all been part of the vocation that I continue to discern.” 

He added:  “This is a public statement of my intention to live as part of the community of Franciscan Friars for the rest of my life. I am sharing my vocation with the whole Church and am asking for the support of everyone who celebrates this profession with me. I also know that God has been calling me to this moment more and more over the past years, and even through my whole life.

“It is funny that someone asked me why it took me so long to decide to join the friars.  This man had joined the seminary when he was about 24.  He does not seem to realize that God calls us to be happy and holy, first and foremost. God might call us to teach for a time and then beyond that.  That is what I did for a year before joining the friars.”

“God has called me to many wonderful and challenging experiences in my life.  It has all been part of the vocation that I have continued to discern … and I still continue to discern it.  When I applied to the Province, I thought that I would try it out.  What specifically God will call me to over the next few years will be a matter of continued discernment, but I look forward to discerning that with the friars and as one of them.”

Linh agreed. “The solemn vows ceremony marks a time of joyous celebration for my family and friends in my profession to Franciscan life. The people who have supported and encouraged me through the formation process were there to witness my commitment to God and to the Order.” 

“My ministry in the Province will not dramatically change in the next few years. I will continue to teach and to do research. But I will have a fresh and vibrant sense of being a fully professed friar of not only the Province but the worldwide Franciscan order. I believe that my connection on the global scale will continue to be enhanced.”

Profession-HNPThe Meaning of Love 
In his homily, John spoke to the newly-professed friars about the meaning of love, describing romantic love, affection and friendship.

In his experience, he said, it is rare to talk about love in the ceremony of profession. John, who commemorates 40 years as a friar and 35 as a priest this year,  said that he finds it interesting to hear little talk of the importance of love.

“Do not take yourselves too seriously,” he said, “and be transparent. Keep your love simple.”

Before closing the Mass, John thanked the parents of the friars, Jerome Massimino, OFM, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Church, the friars who helped with the liturgy, and those responsible for renovating the church.

Friars who participated in the ceremony included Paul O’Keefe, OFM, and Cidouane Joseph, OFM, acolytes;Jeffery Jordan, OFM, crucifer; Larry Anderson, OFM, thurifer; and James Sabak, OFM, master of ceremonies.

A festive luncheon in San Damiano Hall next to the church followed the Mass.

 Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.