NEW YORK — Surrounded by friends and relatives who have supported them throughout their lives and in their formation, Ross Chamberland, OFM, Jeffery Jordan, OFM, and Michael Reyes, OFM, professed solemn vows at an 11 a.m. Mass here on Saturday, Aug. 23.
Friars, relatives and members of various sister communities — from all parts of the United States — were among those assembled at St Francis of Assisi Church, where the three vowed to live by the Rule of St. Francis.
“These are three good men who have come from different backgrounds and who have different skills and gifts,” said Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen, OFM, in his homily. “We pray that the grace of baptism will touch these men and all of us.”
Kevin celebrated the Mass with concelebrants Provincial Vicar Lawrence Hayes, OFM, and Councilor Joseph Nangle, OFM. The master of ceremonies was Timothy Shreenan, OFM, director of liturgy and communications at St. Francis of Assisi Parish.
The occasion was meaningful to the newly professed friars, who spoke positively of this Franciscan milestone.
“It was a very powerful moment,” said Jeffery. “I saw this as another step in deepening my baptismal commitment to love God and neighbor more profoundly in service to the Church. I felt connected to an 800-year legacy of men and women who, like Mary, said yes in this particular vocational choice.”
“The opportunity to commit myself, both publicly and eternally, to the service of the Church and into relationship in the fraternity, is an honor that I find exciting and challenging,” said Ross. “I am grateful to know I will have the lifelong support of my brothers in my efforts to be the friar that God has called me to be.”
The formation process fostered his contemplative side, said Ross, “a skill that I had little practice with prior to my entry into Franciscan life. This life has helped me become aware of the ever-present God.”
Michael said,“I am blessed to have had good formators and mentors throughout my formation. One of the many gifts of being in formation, for me, was the opportunity to discover and understand my strengths and my weaknesses. Through my mentors and formators, I discovered the gifts and talents I can offer to the Order and the people we serve.”
The newly-professed friars, all in their 30s, came to the Province with varied backgrounds. After devoting five years or more to learning about Franciscan history, life and ministry, they spent a month in Italy this summer on retreat, returning to the United States in early August to prepare for their profession.
A native of Nashua, N.H., Ross joined the Order to be “a peacemaker, and one who makes all people feel welcome in our Church.” He has served in a number of parish ministries, including as liturgical coordinator, catechist and group facilitator for AIDS/HIV patients, and holds a degree in social justice and urban life.
In May, he completed a yearlong internship at St. Bonaventure University, where he served on the faculty, as well as a consultant to the office of advancement. He will be returning to the university to work as an administrator and a professor.
“Working with young people in spreading the joy of the Gospel through higher education has become a passion,” said the friar. He professed his first vows with the Order of Friars Minor in 2010, after having spent the beginning of his religious life with the Capuchin Franciscans.
Ross said in an interview posted on the SBU website that he joined the Franciscans because, when he met the friars, he could see they “are dedicated, committed, kind and happy guys.”
Born in Anderson, S.C., Jeffery was originally a member of the Pentecostal Holiness Church. He was welcomed into the Roman Catholic faith in 2004. He met the Franciscan friars at Sacred Heart Parish in Tampa, Fla., where he found that he was drawn to “the unique Franciscan spirituality and understanding of God’s presence in all things.”
In May, Jeffery completed a year of ministry at St. Bonaventure University, where he taught an introductory course examining Hebrew, Christian and Islamic sacred texts. He also took part in campus ministry by preaching at and providing music for Mass. During the next academic year, Jeffery, who holds bachelor’s degrees in linguistics and Romance languages, will be studying in Rome, at the Pontifical Biblical Institute, known as the Biblicum, where he will be pursuing the S.S.L in Sacred Scripture.
He and Ross will be ordained deacons at a Mass on Aug. 28 at St. Augustine Chapel in South Boston.
A native of San Pablo, Laguna, in the Philippines, Michael moved to the United States to work as a programmer/analyst, while completing a business administration degree from Berkeley College in New York City. He became acquainted with the friars at St. Francis of Assisi Church, a block away from his office in Manhattan. He was inspired by their ministry, which, he said, gave him “a much deeper understanding and pure attraction toward St. Francis’ life, work and the Order.”
Michael recently completed a year of ministry at St. Paul Church in Wilmington, Del., where he served as a chaplain at nearby St. Francis Hospital. He also assisted at St. Joseph Church in Wilmington and studied sacred art. After his profession, Michael plans to return to The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., to complete graduate studies in theology before ordination.
Michael, an artist, said: “Being involved in creating sacred images that evangelize, whether they are icons or paintings, is important to me. During my internship year, I had the opportunity to be involved in helping with formation work for the postulants. I enjoyed this work, because I believe in the importance of having a solid formation program.”
A reproduction of an icon painted by Michael appeared on the cover of the profession program.
Before concluding Mass and leaving the church for the reception at the Province’s San Damiano Hall, Kevin expressed gratitude to all who attended the profession and for all who assisted with the celebration.
“I’m grateful for the efforts of all the friars who have helped form the three men,” he said. “I thank the many Franciscan sisters who are here and my brothers for all you do.”
It was a day of firsts for Kevin, who was elected Provincial Minster at the chapter in June.
“Today is my first time presiding in this sanctuary. It is the first time that I’m preaching the word of God from this pulpit. And it is the first time that I am receiving the vows of my brothers,” he said.
Photos of the Mass, taken by Octavio Duran, OFM, can be found on the Facebook page of St. Anthony’s Guild.
— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.