NEW YORK — A dozen friars of Holy Name Province whose life work has included education, parish ministry, service to the poor, finance, and chaplaincy to the elderly were honored last month with a Mass and reception to commemorate their more than 500 combined years of Franciscan service.
Eight golden jubilarians, with 50 years as professed Franciscans, and three silver jubilarians, with 25 years, came to New York City, traveling from as far away as Brazil and Kenya, for the June 21 celebration.
“We celebrate friars who, for 25 and 50 years, have followed Francis,” said Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, in his homily. “On behalf of all of us in the Province, I thank you for being the men of compassion and mercy and love, and for being the best that we are.”
During the Mass, the friars of the classes of 1962 and 1987 prayed together a renewal of vows.
The friars commemorating 50 years of profession this year are: Donald Chin, OFM, of Brazil; Joseph Ehrhardt, OFM, of Kenya; Bonaventure Hayes, OFM, of Ringwood, N.J.; John McVean, OFM, of St. Francis Friends of the Poor, New York City; Charles Miller, OFM, of St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Triangle, Va.; Edwin Robinson, OFM, of St. Cabrini Nursing Home in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.; John Schulmeister, OFM, of Baltimore, Md.; Sebastian Tobin, OFM, of Holy Name College, Silver Spring, Md.; and Michael Tyson, OFM, of Holy Name of Jesus Parish, New York City. Bonaventure’s health conditions did not permit him to come to New York for the festivities.
Those celebrating 25 years as friars are: Frank Sevola, OFM, of St. Mary’s Parish, Pompton Lakes, N.J.; Basil Valente, OFM, of Bonaventure University, Allegany, N.Y.; and Dennis Wilson, OFM, Provincial Treasurer, of New York City.
After the celebration, which included a reception attended by relatives and friends, many of the jubilarians expressed gratitude, joy and pride.
“Everything was great,” said Michael, one of the nine who professed final vows in 1962, “especially the music and seeing my classmates, the friars and the laity. I have to admit that as we processed out to ‘How Great Thou Art,’ I filled up because I was so happy.”
Donald said: “I thought the celebration was a wonderful moment of sharing and caring on the part of the participants. I could feel a true spirit of fellowship and communion on the part of the friars, some of whom I knew and others whom I was meeting for the first time. It was one of those moments I felt that the Eucharist came alive. The liturgy was well prepared, simple, and symbolized the spirit of the day.”
“I would like to thank the Provincial Minister as well as Michael Harlan, OFM, our Provincial Secretary, and others for their input.,” Donald said.”The social afterwards was great and seemed like an extension of the jubilee Mass before.”
“I would have liked to have more time with the jubilarians, my classmates, to share experiences, because a lot of time has passed without us coming together,” said Donald, who is visiting Toronto where he has relatives as well as various HNP ministry sites while he is in the area.
Dennis, who professed his final vows in 1987 and has served as Provincial Treasurer since 1994, said it was nice to see his classmates. “The part of the Mass that made me choke up a little was when the late Thomas Sheehan, OFM, was mentioned.”
Edwin added: “I want to thank all those who worked so hard to make our celebration such a wonderful and affirming event. A special thanks to John for his homily. My guests — four religious sisters — told me how much his words meant to them. The reception was an opportunity to enjoy the ‘theology of the table,’ so another ‘thank you’ to the staff that prepared the food and served us with such grace. Finally, a huge thanks to God for my fellow friars.”
Charles agreed. “The gathering of friends and friars, the music, John’s homily and the reception were truly joyful. It almost makes getting old worth it.”
— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province. The photo above shows John Schulmeister and Donald Chin.