WILMINGTON, Del. — Gerald Hopeck, OFM, and Michael Reyes, OFM, professed their first vows as Franciscans on Saturday at a Mass celebrated by Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, in the lower chapel of St. Paul Church here.
A standing-room-only congregation of friars, Poor Clares, family and friends filled the chapel on June 5. “After the liturgy, the local friar community hosted a very nice luncheon reception in the church hall,” John said. “All in all, it was a great experience of commitment, fraternity and friendship.”
Both friars said they are happy to be taking the next step of their Franciscan journey.
Anticipating Next Phase of Franciscan Formation
“I am excited that I am continuing on the journey that I have felt called to since I was a young kid,” said Gerald, who was raised in Pennsylvania. “I begin this next step with much hope and zeal.”
The friars said they are appreciative of various aspects of the novitiate year that they recently completed while living at St. Paul Friary.
Gerald, 35, said the greatest gift of the novitiate year was the “ability to look, listen and pray more deeply. The gift of time and space, to look at one’s life in a deep and meaningful way, and really ask yourself if the Franciscan life is the life you would like to follow. In that process, you grow in prayer, fraternity and understanding of the Order and the Province. The most interesting aspect of the year was the ability to share it with Franciscans from all parts of the Franciscan family. To hear their stories helps us grow in the wisdom of over 800 years of following this life.”
“I really enjoyed living in an economically and socially challenged neighborhood,” he added. “Being able to walk and be present in this neighborhood of St. Paul was a life-giving experience. In the scripture, we hear ‘Blessed are the Poor.’ There is much truth and wisdom in that phrase, as you are just simply present to the people. Christianity is alive in places that you least expect.”
“The most challenging aspect of the novitiate year is spending time alone. In doing so, you discover more of who you really are and who you really are not. The gift is the ability to see the grace of God being present in your life and how you have grown and not grown,” said Gerald. He was a director of religious education and a pastoral associate before joining the Province’s formation program.
Gratitude for Valuable Year
Michael, a native of the Philippines, said the novitiate year is “like taking an extended retreat with God. It allows you to keep your focus on him and to build a stronger relationship with him, which I believe will guide and sustain me all throughout my Franciscan journey.”
“My novitiate year had nourished my spiritual life immensely,” Michael, 35, said.
“This year has been filled with many graces,” he said, especially meeting members of other branches of the Franciscan family, taking classes from Ronald Pecci, OFM, on the writings of saints Francis and Clare, and ministering at the Province’s St. Francis Inn soup kitchen in Philadelphia. “I am thankful for all the formators, my classmate, and the community at St Paul’s.”
Ronald, who for the past two years was director of novices, participated in Saturday’s service, as did Provincial Vicar Dominic Monti, OFM, Holy Name Province’s secretary for formation and studies, and William Herbst, OFM, assistant novitiate director.
After the summer, during which Gerald and Michael will intern at two Province parishes, the newly-professed friars will begin studies at Washington Theological Union. They will live at Holy Name College in Silver Spring, Md., the Province’s house of studies outside the U.S. capital.
Information about both Gerald and Michael can be found on the “Meet Our Student Friars” section of the HNP website. News about St. Paul Parish is often posted on the Facebook page of Todd Carpenter, OFM, the pastor.
— Jocelyn Thomas is the Province’s director of communications.