This year’s golden jubilarians Kenneth R. Himes, OFM, Francis M. McHugh, OFM, Daniel McLellan, OFM, and Joseph G. Rozansky, OFM, and silver jubilarians John C. Coughlin, OFM, Michael R. Johnson, OFM, and Jacek Orzechowski, OFM, represent the Province’s diversity in ministry, fraternity, and opportunities to serve in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi. This article provides a glimpse into each of these friars’ lives and their inspiring and exhilarating (and sometimes bumpy) journey to 50 and 25 years of profession.
Golden Jubilarians (1972 to 2022)
KENNETH R. HIMES, OFM
A Disastrous Year in Callicoon Just a Blip on the Way to a Half-Century of Higher Education Ministry
As someone who has spent all but two years of his half-century as a friar in higher education ministry, Kenneth has a unique take on teaching theology.
“It’s another form of Ministry of the Word and something I enjoy doing,” said Kenneth, who during all these years as a professor has always engaged with lay intentional communities to which he regularly presides and preaches.
“I have also enjoyed this model of Church far more than territorial parishes as a pastoral setting,” said Kenneth, who is currently a tenured professor in the theology department at Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, where he has been teaching undergraduate and graduate courses for 19 years and serves on a number of department and university committees.
Prior to Boston College, he was a faculty member at Washington Theological Union in Washington, D.C., where he was a professor of moral theology for more than two-and-a-half decades.
How the Brooklyn, New York, native found his way to Franciscan vocation was more happenstance than divine intervention. As Kenneth tells the story: “I attended St. Francis Prep in Brooklyn, and during my years there I got to know the chaplain who came to hear confessions and say Mass on the first Friday of every month. After four years of conversations with him, he asked me if I’d be willing to try [vocation]. Being somewhat unfocused – even shiftless – as to my plans after high school, I said I would be open to it.”
The chaplain was the late Salvator “Doc” Fink, OFM, who at the time was HNP’s director of vocations.
But a “disastrous year” at St. Joseph Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon, New York, cast doubt on Kenneth’s Franciscan future. “I wasn’t sure I wanted the friars – and I suspect they weren’t sure they wanted me,” he said, without elaborating.
Then something happened that changed everything. The entire class was transferred from Callicoon to Siena College in Loudonville, New York, to continue their studies. From that point forward, the experience has been nothing short of wonderful, says Kenneth.
“It was the friars at Siena who walked with me in discernment and showed me that I should be a part of the Order with Holy Name Province,” said Kenneth, who made his first profession in August 1972 and professed his solemn vows three years later at the Church of St. Francis of Assisi on West 31st Street.
Kenneth has found enormous satisfaction in his teaching ministry and has also enjoyed fraternal life when the opportunity comes along. “In a strange way, living outside of a fraternity for the past couple of decades has only convinced me more that I’m a Franciscan friar, and I look forward to my imminent return to fraternal living,” he said.
Having lived with Jesuits for many years at Boston College, and having taught religious from other communities when he was at Washington Theological Union, has given Kenneth a unique view of the many common values and aspirations shared by religious orders and their fraternities.
“But we each have our own way of configuring those values and aspirations into a particular lifestyle. It is the wonderful men I’ve come to know over the years that makes me proud of being a part of Holy Name Province,” said Kenneth, who spent two years in pastoral ministry at a parish in Elmwood Park, New Jersey, after he was ordained to the priesthood in May 1976.
Kenneth, who serves on HNP’s Committee for Higher Studies, offers a simple formula to those discerning a Franciscan vocation. “My experience of being a friar is that I am a far better human being than I would be if I were not a friar. In life, it is important to choose the environments in which you wish to live. Franciscan life has been the right environment for me to develop and even flourish. I’m not anyone special or unique, so maybe this is something that you could experience – that’s what I would tell someone interested in vocation as a friar,” he said.
Apart from his professional life, he continues to find theology intellectually interesting and spiritually enriching. “I keep learning,” said Kenneth, who has a doctorate in religion and public policy from Duke University, and a master’s degree in moral theology from Washington Theological Union.
His interests outside of theology are reading murder mysteries and solving crossword puzzles. He’s become such a fan of the latter that he plans to take a stab at creating crossword puzzles for others to solve.
FRANCIS M. McHUGH, OFM
A Summer Beach House Leads to the Franciscans and 50 Years of Formation, Parish Ministry
The path to Franciscan vocation comes from many directions. For Francis, it was a summer beach house that his father purchased in 1961 on Long Beach Island in New Jersey. That’s when he met HNP friars at St. Francis of Assisi Church.
“The friars were warm and welcoming, and they had a great sense of humor,” recalled Francis, who lives in retirement at St. Anthony Friary in Butler, New Jersey. That’s when he officially became hooked on the Franciscans.
For the next nine years after that first encounter with the friars, the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, native completed his education at Northeast Catholic High School and LaSalle College, both in the City of Brotherly Love, all while contemplating the Franciscan way of life.
After his father died in summer of 1970, the same year he graduated from college and began a teaching career, the call to religious life began pulling a little harder. “I knew that I wanted to join the Order of Friars Minor with Holy Name Province,” said Francis, who was received into the Order the following summer and made his profession of first vows in August 1972.
He made his solemn profession three years later at St. Francis of Assisi Church in New York City and returned to teaching ministry at Bishop Timon High School in Buffalo, New York. But after ordination to the priesthood in May 1976 at St. Camillus Church in Silver Spring, Maryland, his ministerial track changed course from education to formation and parish ministry.
Francis was a member of the formation teams at Holy Cross in the Bronx, New York (1990 to 1992) and St. Bonaventure University in Allegany, New York (1992 to 1994) before joining the friar fraternity at St. Anthony’s Church in Butler, New Jersey, in 1994 as a parochial vicar. In 1996, he was appointed pastor of the parish, and in 1999 he returned to his home state to become pastor of St. Joseph Church in Wilkes-Barre.
He went on to serve as an associate at St. Anthony Shrine in Boston (2002 to 2006); parochial vicar from 2006 to 2008 at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Triangle, Virginia; and a return to the Shrine on Arch Street, as guardian of the residence and vicar and pastoral associate, before accepting an assignment at St. Bonaventure Church in Paterson, New Jersey, in August 2014 – where he served as a parochial vicar and spiritual assistant to the St. John Vianney/St. Elizabeth of Hungary Fraternity and Secular Franciscans of Our Lady of the Angels Region.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my years of ministry at St. Bonaventure Parish. They were the happiest years of my life as a friar,” said Francis, who, although officially retired in June of this year, continues to serve as a spiritual assistant to the local fraternity of Secular Franciscans, and as a co-spiritual assistant for HNP.
“My 50 years as a Franciscan friar have been a great blessing for me – even though there were times of doubt,” said Francis, noting that he would always reach back to the wise counsel of the first friars he encountered to help him get through uncertainty and self-doubt.
“I still remember their words. They told me – ‘You’ll never know if this is the life for you until you try it out.’ That’s my advice to anyone who feels called to join the brotherhood,” Francis said.
DANIEL McLELLAN, OFM
Breadth of Friar Work Solidified Franciscan Vocation and 50 Years of Diverse Ministry
Inspired by diocesan priests at his family parish, Daniel acted on his interest in vocation by writing to religious orders that advertised in a monthly newsletter that was distributed in religious education class. The Massachusetts native had never met a friar prior to visiting St. Anthony Shrine in Boston. As the visits to Arch Street became more frequent, he read The Franciscans: Love at Work by Boniface Hanley, OFM, and Salvator “Doc” Fink, OFM.
“I was fascinated by the breadth of works in which the friars were involved,” said Daniel, who has spent most of his 50 years as a friar in parish and formation ministry. “During my years [at St. Joseph Seraphic Seminary] in Callicoon, [New York], I came to value the enthusiasm for life and work I saw in the friars. That solidified my Franciscan vocation. I wanted to be part of this group.”
Daniel – who holds a doctorate in American History (University of Notre Dame, 1985) and master’s degrees in history (Boston College, 1981) and systematic theology (Washington Theological Union, 1979) – has been pastor of St. Andrew Church in Clemson, South Carolina, since December 2012, and campus minister since 2020 at Clemson University.
As campus minister, Daniel – ordained to the priesthood in May 1976 at St. Camillus Church in Silver Spring, Maryland – helps students “keep their faith while they dive into the culture of university” by offering a program that integrates faith formation, community building, and service. With St. Andrew Church a short walk from the Clemson campus, students prefer to come to Sunday Mass to worship with the parish congregation. He encourages student involvement at Mass as lectors and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion.
“The most satisfying aspect of my Franciscan life has been the opportunity to show people that the Gospel is not about what we do for God, but what God does for us and what he wants us, in turn, to do for each other. I have always been moved by the basic goodness of people – a truth I have seen well-served by even the most curmudgeon of friars!” said Daniel, who recently completed an $8 million capital improvement project that included a complete revamp of the church and expansion of the parish facilities to make St. Andrew more inviting to parishioners and Clemson students.
As the Franciscan Order in the U.S. undergoes an overhaul of sorts – with six provinces uniting into a single coast-to-coast province – Daniel said that demographics and numbers make it a necessary amalgamation.
“Having been a visitator for three religious entities, and having the opportunity to serve on international OFM committees, I know that all Franciscan friars – no matter where they are and what they do – are foundationally the same,” said Daniel, who served as a member of HNP’s Provincial Council (1993 to 2002), chair of the English-speaking Conference Secretaries of Formation and Studies (1994 to 1997), and member of the Order’s International Council for Formation and Studies (1994 to 1998).
“I sometimes get the impression that we are too concerned about prepping for October 2023 (when the new U.S. province becomes official) by getting to know each other, rather than doing the ‘social analysis’ that will be the people ‘telling us’ what we can do for them. Doing for others is how we as friars come to know ourselves. Living the ‘servant life’ of Jesus naturally builds community,” added Daniel, whose interests are travel and politics, both of which he says show how we live together as a people.
“When you look at Franciscan history, it can be summed up by the words of Jesus to the blind beggar: ‘What would you have me do for you?’ This is how I would describe the history of Holy Name Province,” said Daniel, who served in formation ministry from 1990 to 1999 at Holy Name College in Silver Spring in a number of positions that included guardian and post-novitiate formation director.
Prior, he was assigned to Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora, New York, where he held several positions from 1984 to 1990, including rector/president, guardian, vicar, assistant professor, and associate director of formation. He was president of Washington Theological Union (1999 to 2005), where he also served as director of formation for ministry program and as a lecturer on ecclesiastical history. Daniel was pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in Durham, North Carolina (2005 to 2012), where he also was friary guardian, before being assigned as pastor of St. Andrew Church.
His words of advice to men inquiring about Franciscan vocation: “It’s not accidental that Francis is so popular. His attitude toward life touches the essence of what it means to be human. People love to be reminded that for all of the [negative stuff] in their lives, they are loved by and matter to God.”
JOSEPH G. ROZANSKY, OFM
Traveling Has Been a Calling (not a pastime) During 50 Years in Formation, JPIC Ministries
When looking at his five decades as a Franciscan friar, it’s no wonder that Joseph counts travel among his interests. But traveling the globe hasn’t been a pastime; it has been a calling – and it began after his ordination to the priesthood in May 1976, when Joseph was assigned to the Franciscan missions in Brazil, in Anapolis and Casa Sao Boaventura, for nine years. He was later stationed in Rome, Italy, for a decade.
To think, he wouldn’t have even known about the Franciscans if not for a friar who visited his hometown parish of St. Joseph’s in Passaic, New Jersey. “I expressed interest in becoming a Franciscan and the rest is history,” says Joseph, who made his first profession in August 1972, one year after being received into the Order by Holy Name Province.
Joseph currently serves as HNP’s director of post-novitiate formation and is in his sixth year as guardian at St. Joseph Friary, the interprovincial house for simply-professed friars in Chicago, Illinois. Formation ministry has been a significant part of his friar life, serving for eight years (1996 to 2004) as guardian and director of formation at Holy Cross in the Bronx, New York, then one year as guardian and director of post-novitiate formation at Holy Name College in Silver Spring, Maryland, when he also helped transition the Province’s simply-professed program to Chicago.
His other passion has been social justice issues. Until last year, Joseph was the OFM representative to the Board of Directors of Franciscan International – the Province’s non-governmental organization at the United Nations – a post he held for seven years. He was also president of the FI Board for six years. He served on the Order’s Animation Committee of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation for two years before moving to Rome in 2005, where he spent a decade serving as director of the JPIC Office at the OFM General Curia. He currently serves on the Board of the General Secretariat for Franciscan Missions as the representative for the provincial minister.
With a broad ministerial life that has spanned formation, education, JPIC and other social justice issues, Joseph couldn’t identify one aspect that has made his Franciscan vocation most satisfying, but rather, he says, it has been a combination of things. “It has been my collective ministry work, the people I have met along the way, the freedom to serve, and our friar fraternity. I always felt the possibility of fitting into current ministries, but also to set out in new directions with the support of my brothers,” explained Joseph, who said one of the unique aspects of the Province is its commitment to collaborating with lay people – which he has experienced in his work with JPIC and FI.
As the US-6 provinces are poised to become a new U.S. province, Joseph is looking forward to the possibility of working together with other friars from around the country on new (or old!) ministries. “My ministerial life has been tied to international and national fraternities, so this is really not new for me,” he said.
To someone discerning a Franciscan vocation, Joseph has this advice: “Reflect and meditate on the life and work of Francis of Assisi, but also get to know the work and ministry of our friars.”
Silver Jubilarians (1997 to 2022)
JOHN C. COUGHLIN, OFM
After 25 Years, Feeling Joyful and Grateful (and a little old)
In an article penned for the parish bulletin, John summed up his 25 years as a friar: “Looking back has made me ever more aware of the multitude of blessings God has poured into my life. The gratitude and joy continue to swell within me.”
John recalled the invitation he received last year to a jubilee Mass and reception in honor of friars celebrating 50 and 25 years of vowed religious life. “What caught my attention was the silver jubilarians had been in the class one year ahead of me. It caught me totally by surprise because it meant that my two classmates and I would be the next class celebrating our silver jubilee,” said John, who is stationed at St. Mary’s Church in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey.
“Could it really have been almost a quarter of a century since I became a vowed Franciscan? Being a silver jubilarian makes me feel a little old, but it also fills me with a deep sense of gratitude. I would say that gratitude and joy are the two most dominant feelings I have as I reflect back on the 25 years,” added John, who made his first profession in May 1997, professed solemn vows in October 2001, and was ordained to the priesthood on May 25, 2002.
He reflected on his years in formation as “growth-filled and grace-filled” – from his studies at Washington Theological Union in pursuit of his master of divinity, to the friar fraternity living at Holy Name College in Silver Spring, Maryland, to the enriching ministerial experiences as a summer intern.
“During those years, I spent two summers studying Spanish in South America – in Bolivia and Peru – and a third summer serving at the Franciscan soup kitchen in Philadelphia. The experiences of being a foreigner in countries not my own, and of doing direct service to the poor at St. Francis Inn, helped me identify with immigrants, the poor, and the marginalized,” said John, who assisted in the expansion of the Hispanic congregation when he served as an intern at St. Mary Parish in Anderson, South Carolina – an experience that heightened his “desire and confidence” to serve in Hispanic ministry.
His first assignment after ordination was at St. Anthony Parish in Camden, New Jersey, one of the country’s most impoverished cities with a high homicide rate. “It’s where I learned to be a priest. I never felt unsafe. The friars, church and parish were appreciated and valued in the local community. When I think back, besides presiding at liturgies, the ministry that had the biggest impact on me was teaching English as a new language to parishioners. It was fun work that helped me to develop a lot of relationships,” said John.
In 2011, he was assigned to Mt. Irenaeus, the Franciscan retreat in upstate Western New York. “I went from inner-city urban living to living in the woods!” quipped John. But the experience of a very intentional friar fraternity of living, serving, praying, and ministering together helped him develop as a collaborative team player – and it also introduced him to campus ministry at nearby St. Bonaventure University, which made his move in 2014 to the Catholic Center at the University of Georgia Athens a natural fit.
“The best experiences at UGA were collaborating with students and campus ministers of many different religious backgrounds. On the same street as the Catholic Center were several other Christian and non-Christian campus ministry centers. It gave me a deeper appreciation for ecumenism,” explained John, who also served as a regional vocation director in the South.
In January 2018, he was assigned to St. Peter Claver Church in Macon, Georgia, serving in a diverse ministry setting that included filling the chaplain role for the parish elementary and middle schools, as well as the nearby Catholic middle/high school, Mount de Sales Academy. “Some days I would go from visiting pre-schoolers in the morning to high school seniors in the afternoon. Learning how to communicate the Gospel to children and young adults helped me to be more well-rounded as a preacher and teacher of the faith,” he said.
John arrived at St. Mary’s in Pompton Lakes in 2020, during a time when the COVID pandemic was still raging and every other pew in the church was roped off to keep parishioners distanced from each other. “The spirit of the parish was infectious (pun intended) in the best kind of way. I felt very welcomed despite the circumstances. People are very involved in parish life and ministries here,” said John, who, in addition to sacramental and other priestly ministries, has been part of small groups such as Bible studies in English and Spanish, social justice, and teaching baptismal preparation classes to parents.
“Living in a slightly larger friar community than when I was in the South, and having other nearby Franciscan communities, has been a great support and blessing to my fraternal needs as a friar called to communal life,” said John.
MICHAEL R. JOHNSON, OFM
Ditching a 13-Year Legal Career, ‘Mike in Bolivia’ has Spent 25 Years in Outreach Ministry and Is Back in the Place Where It All Began
Michael’s life came full circle in September 2020 when he joined the friar fraternity as a parochial vicar at St. Patrick-St. Anthony Church in downtown Hartford, Connecticut – where he’s also director of the Franciscan Center for Urban Ministry. It’s where Michael the layperson and successful attorney developed an interest in outreach ministry and served on several boards and committees, including parish council president. (We’ll get to the “Mike in Bolivia” part in a minute.)
“I loved being an attorney, especially in family and immigration law, which gave me the opportunity to help a lot of people. I never thought about religious life and ordination,” said Michael. But the more deeply immersed he became in service ministry at St. Patrick-St. Anthony, the closer he was drawn to Franciscan vocation – and, at age 37, after a 13-year career in the legal profession, he joined the Franciscans.
“There was this sense of community between the laypeople and friars. Even as a layperson, I felt a sense of fraternity with the friars. They opened their home to everyone and gave a glimpse into their lives. I was amazed by what the friars had created in Hartford,” said Michael, who was raised just over the border in Springfield, Massachusetts.
As director of the Franciscan Center, he is doing much of what he did as a layperson in downtown Hartford – outreach to the homeless, community organizing, interfaith building, and partnering with non-governmental organizations – including St. Francis Builds (SFB), an initiative he founded in 2006 when he was stationed at St. Camillus Church in Silver Spring, Maryland, and serving as a regional vocation director in the mid-Atlantic/Washington, D.C. region.
Since its inception, SFB has organized 40 trips to 10 countries (such as Bolivia, Nicaragua, Trinidad and Jordan), where small groups of volunteers build schools, homes, churches and other climate-change disaster relief construction for communities decimated by poverty and natural disasters, according to Michael, who said the next mission trip is planned for January when a team of parishioners from the Hartford and Silver Spring parishes will go to Puerto Rico to build homes.
Michael is also director of Brothers Walking Together, a program he founded in 2019 which provides simply-professed friars with a wide range of ministry opportunities – from service with the Franciscan mission in Negril, Jamaica, and mission trips with SFB, to a weekend at St. Francis Inn soup kitchen in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and a week working with migrants on the U.S.-Mexico border.
“Brothers Walking Together is one of our most important ministries because it transformed our formation process. We stopped moving men in formation from the postulancy bubble to the novitiate bubble to the bubble of studies. This program is a way to give them direct service experience while living in contemplative mission. It stretches them beyond their comfort zone and empties them of what they are accustomed to. This challenges and gives them the confidence to try new things,” said Michael, who graduated from Siena College in 1979 and received his law degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law three years later.
It was the same way Michael was challenged when he was assigned to the Franciscan missions in Bolivia in 1997, just one month after professing his first vows. There was some hesitancy – a foreign country, a different language. But Bolivia quickly became one of his comfort zones, where he served in vocational rehabilitation ministry at a local prison. “I love Bolivia!” proclaimed Michael – so much that his email address starts with “mikeinbolivia.”
In the years following his ordination in May 2002, while at St. Camillus (where he was stationed for 15 years, including several years as pastor), he created a pre-postulant formation program for Latino men who spent eight months at Holy Name College living, ministering and praying with friars while learning English.
“The past 25 years have been an exciting adventure – ministering to the incarcerated in a Bolivia prison, working with children in the slums of Peru, building houses with people that became my family in a ministry that continues to grow, and helping men in formation – pushing them outside their comfort zone but also providing support as they discover who they are and the gifts they have to offer,” said Michael, who served as visitator general for the Province of Our Lady of Guadalupe, one of the U.S.-6 provinces.
“It was a great joy working with friars of the OLG province and a wonderful fraternal experience when we were in COVID lockdown. The best thing about friar life is that I get to be a brother with HNP and other friars, and with laypeople in mission,” said Michael, who was stationed at St. Anthony Shrine in Boston from 2017 to 2020, filling several positions that included pastoral associate, vicar, and regional vocation director for the New England region.
When asked what wisdom he would share with discerners, Michael didn’t hesitate: “While I have tried to do what is asked of me – whether as a pastor or in formation ministry – the Province has always supported me. Franciscan vocation is an adventure with brothers. I never imagined I’d get a chance to do all of these different things. I never felt the Holy Spirit as I have as a Franciscan friar. It’s very sustaining.”
He continued, “In this post-pandemic Church, we must be creative in order to be relevant in the lives of young people and those who are struggling. How do we challenge people and give them rich community and experience of Church and mission rooted in the Franciscan vision? With six provinces becoming a new U.S. province, we have a critical mass to do new things.”
Two years into his assignment at St. Patrick-St. Anthony, Michael continues to enjoy his homecoming. “I am close to where I grew up for the first time as a friar. It has been a blessing to serve a community where I was so deeply rooted, and to be able to have Sunday dinner with my family (my mother is happy about that!), and to garden with my younger brother,” said Michael, who counts contemplative photography as one of his hobbies.
JACEK ORZECHOWSKI, OFM
After Migrating from Poland and Living as a Refugee in Italy, He Finds His Way to the U.S. and Franciscans – and 25 Years of Pastoral and Social Justice Ministry
Jacek sees himself on the face of the refugee fleeing oppression for sanctuary in the United States. He identifies with the squeegee man wiping car windshields in exchange for spare change. Jacek was that migrant and that squeegee man. Long before he became a Franciscan, he was among the poor and marginalized because he was one of them.
It was 1987, a few years prior to the collapse of communism. Jacek and his family had migrated from Poland to Italy, where they lived as refugees for more than a year. To help support his family, Jacek set up shop in one of Rome’s busiest intersections – and with a squeegee in one hand and a bottle of water in the other, he cleaned windshields for the coins that motorists tossed from the window.
His family eventually found their way to Hartford, Connecticut. Having been raised in an environment rich in Catholic tradition back in Poland – where tens of thousands of residents would participate in the feast of Corpus Christi procession along the city’s main street – it wasn’t surprising that Jacek entered a diocesan minor seminary, seemingly headed for diocesan priesthood until a fellow seminarian introduced him to the Franciscan friars at St. Patrick-St. Anthony in downtown Hartford.
“I was immediately attracted to the Franciscans by their jovial, down-to-earth, welcoming nature, and by the ministerial opportunities of parish ministry, mission work, and direct service to the poor,” said Jacek, who has combined pastoral ministry at St. Camillus Church in Silver Spring, Maryland, and currently at Immaculate Conception Church in Durham, North Carolina – where he has been pastor since 2020 – with his work in social justice issues and care for creation.
His family upbringing, public displays of faith in his native Poland, introduction to the friars in urban ministry at the Hartford parish, and his experience as a refugee who squeegee-cleaned car windshields – and, of course, God’s guiding hand – all combined to help form his Franciscan identity centered in humility and compassion.
He served for nearly 20 years with HNP’s Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Directorate before relinquishing the position when he was appointed pastor of the Durham parish. For the past four years, he has continued serving on the JPIC Animation Committee, collaborating with the Order’s JPIC Office in Rome. Prior to his Durham assignment, he served from 2017 to 2020 in parish community organizing and advocacy with Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. This is also his second assignment at the Durham parish, where he had served from 2002 to 2008 as a parochial vicar. Much of his pastoral ministry has been among English and Spanish-speaking communities.
“The reasons I stayed with the Franciscans are varied: meeting amazing friars who are deeply and authentically committed to living the Gospel call in solidarity with the poor and marginalized, and to their struggle for justice; the beauty of the people whom I have been blessed to serve; and the goodness and joy of so many friars I’ve met both within and outside of Holy Name Province,” said Jacek.
There have been many cherished experiences throughout his two-and-a-half decades as a friar – at the top of the list, celebrating the sacraments; learning to speak Spanish and discovering a new rich culture; befriending wonderful people from incredibly diverse backgrounds and accompanying them on their journey; and witnessing together to the good news of the Gospel in charity and justice for all.
“I have turned my heart to the cry of the poor and clamor of Mother Earth, and I have been inspired by friars and laypeople to step out of my comfort zones and discover the beauty of the struggle for making God’s kingdom come,” said Jacek, who is passionate about his role with the JPIC Animation Committee in helping the Province and lay partners-in-ministry to engage in the Laudato Si’ Action Platform on local, national and international levels.
For Jacek, what’s most unique about Holy Name Province is its generosity, openness to new ventures, and commitment to growth with lay partners-in-ministry on the collective journey of ecological conversion. He is also looking forward to the new U.S.-wide province and what it will mean to the Order.
“It will be the opportunity to respond more prophetically to the signs of the times in ways that are collaborative, creative, courageous, and – at the heart of our revitalization efforts – with a renewed commitment to justice, peace and care for our common home,” said Jacek, who relishes long hikes in the mountains, spending time with friars, friends and family members, reading (especially books about faith and ecology), watching documentaries, traveling, meeting new people, and spending time in prayer.
In closing, Jacek said he felt “so incredibly blessed” living the Franciscan dream. “Though sometimes it turns into a difficult cross, I continually rediscover and recommit myself to Jesus Christ, and to rejoice in God’s love and the amazing beauty unfolding before my eyes as I walk with fellow brothers and sisters on this Franciscan journey. I want others to touch and taste that beauty,” said Jacek.