ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — From Jan. 2 to 6 – the week that the blizzard pounced on the Northeast – the Province’s solemnly professed friars under five years (SPUFY) gathered at St. Anthony Friary to hold their annual meeting. The attendees were John Aherne, OFM, George Camacho, OFM, Ross Chamberland, OFM, Casey Cole, OFM, Edgardo Jara, OFM, Michael Reyes, OFM, and me, along with mentors Michael Duffy, OFM, and Steven Patti, OFM.
Our sessions offered space for open listening and support to each other as we shared our varied challenges and rewards in leading the vowed life in our current contexts. John and Casey are on their way to completing their studies toward priesthood. While completing his studies, Casey is managing his emerging online ministry. Ross is currently the vice president for enrollment at St. Bonaventure University in Western New York and is in charge of initiatives helping students who are discerning religious life. Michael is currently serving as associate pastor at Sacred Heart Parish in Tampa, Fla., and is simultaneously completing required courses in fine arts as he prepares for a masters degree in the art field. George is assistant director of the Damietta Cross-Cultural Center at Siena College near Albany, N.Y. Edgardo is an associate pastor at St. Camillus Parish in Silver Spring, Md., and I am serving on the staff of St. Francis Inn, Philadelphia, Pa.
During the SPUFY gathering, we met each day to examine our experiences of ministry and fraternity: the joys, the challenges, the struggles and the rewards of our commitment to the Gospel life in our quest to fully appreciate who we are as Franciscan friars. For this fellowship to be meaningful, it was essential that we entered into these group encounters with a commitment to mutual trust and vulnerability. Together, our stories and gifts create a reality and community of brotherhood through which we hope to embody the best desires of Christ for his people.
Our fellowship extended well beyond the meetings and into recreational activities. Almost all of us took advantage of the cheaper movie ticket prices in Florida by watching a number of movies. Some enjoyed a bike ride tour with one of our friar hosts. There were also opportunities to visit important museums such as the Dali Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts of St. Petersburg. Our elder brothers at St. Anthony Friary warmly welcomed us to their meals and liturgy. In addition to sharing their wisdom, they showed their generosity in their willingness to listen to our interests and the stories we encounter.
We are ready to begin another year keeping in mind that there is a supportive space for us in which we are as ourselves, friars ready to commit and share ourselves to the fraternity and the entire people of God.
– Br. Ramon, a native of the Philippines, professed his final vows as a Franciscan in August 2017. Since then, he has been stationed at St. Francis Inn in Philadelphia, Pa.
Editor’s note: Information about the Province’s vocation and formation programs can be found on the BeAFranciscan website.
- “John Aherne to be Ordained a Priest” – Jan. 10, 2017, HNP Today
- “Vocation Ministry Concludes Year with Retreat in Boston” – Dec. 20, 2017, HNP Today
- “Recently-Professed Friars Gather for Support” – Jan. 13, 2017, HNP Today
- “Michael Duffy Marks 50 Years as a Friar” – Feb. 10, 2016, HNP Today
- “Ross Chamberland Ordained a Priest Jan. 3 in Boston” – Jan. 5, 2015, HNP Today