For interview and photo requests, contact Jocelyn Thomas, director of communications, at 646-473-0265 or JThomas@HNP.org.
NEW YORK — Aug. 16, 2021 — Three Franciscan friars – Brothers James Bernard, OFM, Steven Kuehn, OFM, and Aaron Richardson, OFM – are scheduled to profess their final, or solemn, vows as Franciscans during a Mass on Aug. 21 at the Church of St. Francis of Assisi on West 31st Street. The 11 a.m. liturgy will be celebrated by Fr. Kevin Mullen, OFM, provincial minister of Holy Name Province, the community to which the friars belong.
The three brothers have completed the Franciscan formation process which includes postulancy, novitiate and several years of study, as well as a year-long ministry internship. Their formation, or training, has emphasized outreach ministry, which is central to Franciscan life. All three friars are working toward ordination to the transitional diaconate and, eventually, priestly ordination.
Br. Bernard, a native of New York, served his 2020-21 internship at St. Anthony Shrine in Boston, where he worked primarily at the Franciscan Food Center. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in financial planning from Grove City College in Pennsylvania, a graduate degree in banking from the American Bankers Association Stonier Graduate School of Banking on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, and accreditation as a mortgage professional from the School of Mortgage Banking in Washington, D.C. After professing solemn vows, Br. Bernard plans to move to Chicago to complete studies for his master of divinity degree.
Br. Kuehn grew up in Annapolis, Maryland, where he attended the U.S. Naval Academy, earning a bachelor of science degree in systems engineering. After graduation, he went to flight school in Pensacola, Florida, and served as a Navy aviator, disclosure analyst and catapult officer. While stationed in San Diego, California, and Washington, D.C., he volunteered at food pantries and was active in prayer groups, bible study, fellowship programs and other ministries at area parishes. After 12 years of service in the U.S. Navy, Br. Kuehn changed course and joined the Franciscans. He professed his first vows as a friar in 2017. During the 2020-21 academic year, he completed an internship a St. Bonaventure University in Western New York.
Br. Richardson, a native of California who grew up in Fredericksburg, Virginia, holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from George Mason University in Virginia. He joined Holy Name Province in 2014 and professed his first vows as a Franciscan in 2016. He studied at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago where he will be returning in 2022 to complete his master’s in divinity degree. During the last year, he served his internship at the St. Francis Inn soup kitchen in Philadelphia, where he plans to serve a second year after he professes solemn vows.
The Church of St. Francis of Assisi has been serving the people of Manhattan for more than 175 years. The cornerstone of the church, which is located just one block from Penn Station and Madison Square Garden, was laid on May 9, 1844, at a time when dirt roads and modest frame houses – with a few hundred families – comprised the neighborhood of Manhattan’s west side, then known as Bloomingdale. Today, with its varied ministries and programs, the parish welcomes people from throughout the metropolitan New York area as well as tourists.
About Holy Name Province
Holy Name Province is the largest of seven entities in the United States belonging to the Order of Friars Minor. With ministries in 10 states along the East Coast, its more than 250 Catholic priests and brothers serve in colleges, parishes, urban ministry centers and a wide variety of social service ministries, as well as in overseas missions.
The Order, founded in 1209 by St. Francis of Assisi, commemorated its 800th anniversary in 2009. Today, St. Francis, whose feast day is Oct. 4, remains one of the most widely known saints, revered for his affection for nature and care for creation.