Vocation Update: Promoting Friar Life on College Campuses

Rebecca Doel In the Headlines

Members of Holy Name Province’s Franciscan Vocation Ministry team have been continuing their ongoing collaboration with recent visits to several college campuses where friars are present.

Earlier this month, vocation director Brian Smail, OFM, paid a visit to Siena College in Loudonville, N.Y. 

Because of the relationship the Province enjoys with Siena, the vocation director visits the campus once a semester, presiding and preaching at the four Sunday Masses, said Gregory Jakubowicz, OFM, former vocation director and Siena campus minister. Brian was available after each Mass to speak to students who expressed interest in a religious vocation.

On Feb. 14, the friar community at Siena sponsored a vocation evening facilitated by Brian. The evening, attended by 13 men representing all class years, included a viewing of the vocation video “Make a Life Shift: Be a Franciscan,” followed by Brian’s vocation story and a period of questions and answers. In addition to this special vocation event, friars and faculty members coordinate four spirituality groups for men.

The friars in attendance — William Beaudin, OFM, Brian Belanger, OFM, Romuald Chinestsky, OFM, Daniel Dwyer, OFM, Daniel Horan, OFM, Walter Liss, OFM, and Kevin Mullen, OFM — joined in the conversation. Kevin, president of Siena, opened the evening with a welcome.

Greg said the students asked questions that were “thoughtful and mature.” He noted that many of the young men who attended the evening had been personally invited by a friar, though the event was also promoted to students with a flyer that asked, “Ever wonder what it’s like to walk in these shoes?”

Not too long before Brian’s visit upstate, Walter, one of the Province’s regional vocation directors, traveled south from the Albany area to speak at the University of Georgia’s Catholic Center as a follow-up to National Vocation Awareness Week and to invite young men from the community to learn about the Franciscan way of life.

Friars Share Franciscan Experiences
“The Catholic Center was pleased to have Br. Walter join our faith community at our Eucharistic celebrations,” said Thomas Vigliotta, OFM, director of the center in Athens, Ga. “Weeks later, I still receive requests that he return to Athens.”

More than 15 men attended Walter’s Monday evening talk, said Thomas. “Walter’s very down-to-earth ways opened the door for me and David Hyman, OFM, to share our stories as well.”

Walter said he was “greatly encouraged” by the young men’s interest in friar life. “It was wonderful to share this evening with Fr. David and Fr. Tom, and I think the men were amazed to hear both the diversity and commonality in our vocation stories,” he noted.

Thomas added: “There is something wonderful about reflecting on those early days of our coming to the friars. The experience seems to rekindle the flame of our own vocation, and it reminded me that being called to walk with God is such a gift.”

He said the theme that emerged from the evening was the gratitude for the brotherhood that Holy Name Province offers. “It was and will always be our greatest gift.”

The talk was followed by a time for questions, which included discussion of Provincial ministries, common prayer lives and the vowed life.

Walter said, “The questions raised by the men demonstrated a mature faith and a willingness to consider how God might be calling them to live their lives and be of service to other people.”

The evening concluded with night prayer.

Brian will visit Athens in early March for a similar discussion. He will also travel to Furman University, Greenville, S.C., in April.

vocation4Regional Directors Meet in New York
In other vocation news, several of the Province’s regional vocation directors gathered this month at the Provincial Office for their biannual meeting.

At the Feb. 11 meeting, they discussed ways to assist pastors in conducting vocation promotion.

In Boston, an ad with the theme of “Is St. Francis speaking to you?” will appear on billboards along Route 93. The concept was developed by RVD David Convertino, OFM, of St. Anthony Shrine, with the assistance of an outside advertising agency.

The gathering inspired several RVDs to enhance vocation promotion through their parish or ministry’s website. Tom said he plans to add vocation ads to the home page of the Catholic Center’s website, and Sean O’Brien, OFM, of Sacred Heart Church, Tampa, Fla., contacted the Vocation Office for assistance in creating a banner to link to BeAFranciscan.org.

The attention to Internet visibility coincides with the Vocation Ministry’s continuing advances in outreach through Facebook, YouTube and its blog.

— Rebecca Doel is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.