NEW YORK — Vocation director Brian Smail, OFM, hosted the second “Come and See” weekend of the fall season this month, drawing men from a variety of locations to learn about Holy Name Province ministries in New York City.
The six attendees represented five states — Florida, Maryland, South Carolina, Illinois and New York — and gathered on West 31st Street for a series of presentations by friars and lay staff from St. Francis of Assisi Church in Midtown Manhattan.
The “Come and See” was an opportunity for men considering Franciscan life to see friars in action and experience various ministries in the city. The men visited one of the three St. Francis Friends of the Poor residences. SFFP is a non-profit organization that offers permanent housing and supportive services to street people, the mentally disabled and dependant people who have suffered years of personal and institutional neglect.
“During their visit, Thomas Walters, OFM, a team member of SFFP, described some of the history of the ‘hotels’ and the services they provide to the residents,” Brian said. “Several of the tenants shared with the group their experiences of living in the hotel, and the difference the friars have made in their lives.”
On Saturday evening, guardian Jerome Massimino, OFM, and Fr. Joe Cavoto, SA, prepared an Italian dinner for the friars and guests.
The following morning, the group gathered outside at 6:45 a.m. to experience “hands on” ministry by serving guests on the St. Francis Breadline, which recently marked its 80th anniversary.
Brian said, “Our guests were especially impressed by these two important ministries — feeding the poor and housing the mentally ill — and the numbers of people in need that they serve.”
Upcoming vocation weekends include a Franciscan Experience Weekend, Nov. 12 to 14, at the Province’s house of studies near Washington, D.C., and a twilight discernment retreat on Dec. 1 in New York City. Registration deadlines and information are available on the “Join Us” page of the HNP website.
Vocation Office News
In a continued effort to spread the Franciscan message on the Internet, Brian announced at the recent guardians meeting that the Vocation Ministry will be launching a Facebook ad targeted at young men enrolled at or graduated from colleges and universities with a Franciscan presence. Set to go live at the end of this week, the ad features the headline “Picture Yourself in Brown,” with a friar logo and the words, “Join a group of men who are still changing the world after 800 years.”
“So many young people are on Facebook that its reach is enormous,” Brian said. “In terms of advertising, you have to go where young people are to be found, and Facebook is certainly one of those places.”
The Vocation Office also added an informative video about serving at St. Francis Inn made by former Franciscan Volunteer Minister Katelyn Bagtaz to its YouTube Channel, Be A Franciscan. The video — originally loaded to YouTube in July 2009 — has been viewed more than 1,000 times.
— Rebecca Doel is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.