The friars at St. Francis Friary in New York City are delivering seasonal messages as part of their “Daily Reflections with the Friars” series.

Virtual Lenten Programs Around the Province

HNP Communications Around the Province

The information below is an addendum to the online Lenten services described in the HNP Today article published on Feb. 18.

Seasonal programs and prayer services are available online for the remaining weeks of Lent leading to Easter Sunday, April 4. Several ministry sites are offering virtual Stations of the Cross, music-based prayer services, discussions, and reflections related to the season. Many ministries have already begun preparation for their virtual services during Holy Week.

A group of 13 simply-professed friars at the post-novitiate house in Chicago, St. Joseph Friary, have been posting one-minute reflection videos on the friary’s Facebook page since Ash Wednesday. The online Lenten video series, which the student friars produce at the post-novitiate house and on-location in the Hyde Park neighborhood, will be posted through Easter Sunday. The videos, says Michael Specht, OFM, who initiated the project, “have been getting good attention.”

Michael said he was inspired by priests and other religious, whom he follows on social media, who were engaging with their followers by offering one-minute homilies. “I thought, ‘why can’t we do that?’ Those of us who are offering the reflections hone in on different themes throughout Lent, such as different approaches to prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. We are also preaching on Pope Francis’s encyclical, ‘Fratelli Tutti,’ as well as other themes,” explained Michael.

“This project is a blessing not only to those who view the videos but to the friars as well. We get to collaborate and hone our preaching skills into brief, concise messages,” he added.

Some simply-professed friars in Chicago are posting one-minute reflection videos on their Facebook page. (Screen captures from Facebook)

In Boston, the friars at St. Anthony Shrine on Arch Street are recording a collection of 16 Lenten reflections that are being posted throughout Lent. Reflections by Brian Cullinane, OFM, Cidouane Joseph, OFM, John Maganzini, OFM, Daniel Murray, OFM, Charles O’Connor, OFM, and other community members can be found on the Shrine’s website and Facebook page.

Every Monday, St. Patrick-St. Anthony Parish in downtown Hartford, Connecticut, publicizes its weekly online Lenten events. Earlier this week, the parish, whose pastor is Timothy Shreenan, OFM, offered a live-stream Hymn Sing-Along – promoted with the tag line: “belt out your favorite church tunes at home, with us.” Scheduled for March 23 at 7 p.m. is a live-stream “Lenten Twilight Retreat: A Time Like No Other” – which the parish post tells worshippers: contemplate through story and song how we are moving through this Lenten season toward the holiest of weeks, a week “like no other” in our faith.

The friars in New York City at the West 31st Street Church of St. Francis of Assisi have been giving short reflections on Facebook that are part of the “Daily Reflections with the Friars” series. Reflections can be found from Michael Carnevale, OFM, Julian Jagudilla, OFM, John McVean, OFM, Michael Reyes, OFM, Brian Smail, OFM, and the pastor of St. Francis, Thomas Gallagher, OFM. Musical meditations performed in the church by music director Meredith Augustin are also posted on Facebook. Among the hymns she has offered are “Change our Hearts,” “Into the Desert,” “Merciful God,” “Tree of Life,” and “Turn to the Living God.”

An assortment of videos and reflections related to the season can be found on the website.

From Western New York, St. Bonaventure Parish in Allegany offers reflections by its pastor, Jim Vacco, OFM, which can be found on the parish Facebook page. Nearby at Mt. Irenaeus, friars at the Mountain retreat provided a Sunday afternoon service of prayer and reflection on Feb. 28 that was broadcast online.

Parishioners of St. Camillus in Silver Spring, Maryland, have been gathering virtually every Thursday from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. to pray and reflect on the Gospel and scripture readings of the upcoming Sunday. Zoom codes are provided on the Facebook page of St. Camillus Parish, whose pastor is Brian Jordan, OFM.

In Northern Virginia, St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Triangle is providing Lenten-related events that are described on its website. Among the online events to help the faithful in preparation for Easter, the friars, including pastor John O’Connor, OFM, are offering virtual Stations of the Cross every Friday at 7:00 p.m. The Stations are recorded and posted on the parish YouTube channel. In addition, Jim Scullion, OFM, has been leading a series of virtual scripture classes that have included a presentation on the Letters of St. Paul – whose notes can be viewed online. Worshippers also can access presentation notes and a video on the Gospel of St. Mark. The parish has also held small faith group sessions on the topics “Around The Lenten Circle” and “The Light Is On For You.”

At Other Parishes
Several seasonal programs are being offered at the Immaculate Conception Parish in Durham, North Carolina. On March 13, the parish held an online Spanish Lenten retreat, “The People Anointed by the Spirit.” Led by Dr. Peter Casarella of the Divinity School at nearby Duke University, the Zoom retreat drew on the prophetic teachings and witness of St. Oscar Romero, seeking to inspire participants and encourage reflections on God’s call to respond to the cry of the poor and the cry of the earth. The parish invites all Franciscan-hearted, Spanish-speaking communities in the US-6 Provinces to view the recorded retreat. 

Jacek Orzechowski, OFM, pastor of Immaculate Conception, said the parish is participating in the Greener Lent initiative, which expands the traditional days of abstinence from meat to make a positive impact on the environment.

“More than 50 people in the parish are participating in the Greener Lent initiative by drastically reducing their consumption of meat. This is one of the most effective ways of reducing one’s ecological footprint, caring for the poor, and promoting environmental justice,” said Jacek, who explained that at their House Chapter, the friars in Durham – inspired by the pope’s 2015 encyclical “Laudato Si’” – decided to lead by example and participate in this interesting and unique Lenten program.

“In addition to refraining from eating any meat all week – except for chicken on Sunday – the friars will use the few hundred dollars saved (by not purchasing meat for the house) to help plant trees in Durham and collaborate in the Franciscan reforestation project in Africa,” said Jacek. More information can be found on the Greener Lent website.

In addition to recording videos of Stations of the Cross, the friars at Sacred Heart Parish in Tampa, Florida, have produced a pair of virtual presentations, one that centers on the notion of Pax Christi – the Catholic peace movement promoting peace, justice, reconciliation, and respect for human rights throughout the world – and the other that focuses on St. John Paul II’s devotion and care for creation and the urgent need for the Church to respond to its moral and spiritual dimensions. The friars involved in the video productions include Stephen Mimnaugh, OFM, Zachary Elliott, OFM, Ron Gliatta, Michael Jones, OFM, and Henry Fulmer, OFM.

At St. Mary’s Parish in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey, where Frank Critch, OFM, is pastor, a line-up of Holy Week events includes a healing Mass, Tenebrae service, women of Jerusalem, exposition, adoration, youth ministry Stations of the Cross, the traditional service of the Passion of the Lord, and blessing of the bread.

In Macon, Georgia, at St. Peter Claver Parish, where William McIntyre, OFM, is pastor, Lenten Tuesdays with the Friars – 7 p.m. on Zoom – gives parishioners an opportunity to share the Gospel, their faith, and how they’re doing.

Also in Macon, at Holy Spirit ParishSteven Pavignano, OFM, led Stations of the Cross with religious education students and their parents. The Stations that the congregation prayed before were created by the students, who were asked to color pages of the Stations and mount them on construction paper. On Wednesdays during Lent, Patrick Tuttle, OFM, pastor at Holy Spirit, leads an evening of Lent reflecting on the film series, “Chosen.” The reflection is held in the church hall and live-streamed on YouTube. On Monday, March 22, the adult religious education group will discuss a presentation on the commemoration, rituals, and prayers of Holy Week.

Information about virtual Masses and prayer services for Holy Week and the Triduum can be found on the websites and social media pages of the Province’s ministries – all of which are listed in the Our Ministries section of

From Affiliated Ministries
Franciscans International is sponsoring a virtual Lenten reflection, “Social Justice and the Stations of the Cross,” on March 19 at 10 a.m. EST.  The reflection, inspired by contributors from Franciscans across the globe, will be in English, but translations will be available in German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish. Links to join the event can be requested online.

Every Friday during the Lenten season, the Franciscan Action Network has been sending a link to a video recording made by a staff member or FAN friend that focuses on a particular principle unique to Franciscan spirituality and pairs it with a short prayer. A link to the reflections can be found on FAN’s website – including Jason Miller Reflects, a contemplation by FAN’s director of campaigns and development on the Franciscan value: witness to genuine love and respect for the poor and vulnerable.

In a recent email, FAN said, “As we continue reflecting on this Lenten Season, the Franciscan Action Network takes an opportunity to contemplate the unique values of all Franciscans. At the founding of our organization in 2007, a set of values was developed by Tom Nairn, OFM. These values guide the type of work in which FAN engages. We continue to reference these Franciscan values when considering new projects or campaigns in which we are involved.”

— Compiled by Jocelyn Thomas