St. Bonaventure Alumnus Receives Francis Medal

Johann Cuervo Around the Province

Erick Lopez, Edgardo Jara and Christopher Posch with Francis Medal recipient (Photo courtesy of Walter Liss)

SILVER SPRING, Md. — Earlier this month, the friars of Holy Name College recognized a longtime volunteer for more than 30 years of service to the Province.

Robert Tocha, a native of Silver Spring, was presented with the HNP Francis Medal on Aug. 3 at the Province’s formation residence, located six miles outside of Washington, D.C. Longtime friend and former classmate Dominic Monti, OFM, presided at the celebratory Mass.

“Tocha has been a stalwart friend and supporter of the friars and ministries of Holy Name Province,” said Walter Liss, OFM, guardian of Holy Name College. “When the friars took on the parish of St. Camillus, Bob transferred from his original parish and has been an engaged parishioner since then, helping the staff with English composition, adult faith formation, as well as serving as liturgical minister and planner.”

A St. Bonaventure University alumnus, Tocha is a former high school teacher and assistant to the superintendent of schools of Prince George’s County in Maryland and has served on the board of education for the Archdiocese of Washington, a volunteer position. Since Holy Name College opened in 1985, he has also offered free tutoring to friars in formation in various ways, including ESL – English as a second language – and GED classes.

Daniel Grigassy, Walter Liss and Dominic Monti present the Francis Medal to Robert Tocha (Photo courtesy of Dominic Monti)

“Bob is one of my oldest friends,” said Dominic recalling the connection Tocha has to two friars. “I met him in 1961 when we both moved onto the same floor as freshmen at SBU. The friar prefect on our floor was the late Robert Gavin, OFM. Later on, Bob became a great friend of the late Gervase White, OFM, who was spiritual assistant to the Secular Franciscans at Bona’s.”

Holy Name Province’s Francis Medal was established in 1998 by then-Provincial Minister John Felice, OFM. Recipients are lay people who have displayed an uncommon contribution to the advancement of the ideals and values of St. Francis. Earlier this year, friars presented the medal to partners-in-ministry in Loudonville, N.Y., Wilmington, Del., and Raleigh, N.C.

— Johann Cuervo is communications assistant for Holy Name Province.

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