This is the twelfth in a series of profiles of Holy Name Province friars who are marking major anniversaries as Franciscans in 2015. The previous article featured Patrick Sieber, OFM, of Philadelphia. William and the other jubilarians commemorating 50 and 25 years of profession were honored by the Province on June 24.
DURHAM, N.C. — A college prayer group and the influence of several friars form the roots of a silver jubilarian’s Franciscan journey.
Hyde Park, N.Y., native William McIntyre, OFM, was part of a vocation prayer group while a student at St. Bonaventure University, with Daniel Riley, OFM, and the late Daniel Hurley, OFM, but said that he didn’t feel called to religious life until a year later.
The SBU graduate worked in the insurance industry for a year after college before joining the Order of Friars Minor. That was in 1990, and now William, parochial vicar at Immaculate Conception Parish in Durham, is marking 25 years as a Franciscan.
For the past quarter century, Bill has had assignments at some of the Province’s largest multicultural parishes. “When I was a student in college, I thought that I wanted to earn a doctorate or pursue something in social science. But I saw the excitement and needs of the parishes, especially multicultural ones, and as the saying goes, the rest is history.”
Born in a Catholic family, Bill was the oldest of six children, including two brothers who went to Siena College in Loudonville, N.Y. Bill chose to attend St. Bonaventure University, where he met many friars, including the late James Haggerty, OFM. “He was very kind, loving and accepting, and he inspired me. All the friars inspired me, really,” Bill said, “especially in our discussions of religious life.”
After graduating in 1987 with a degree in social science and a minor in theology, Bill felt it was important for him to have some time to be independent, so he began working in the insurance industry. “I thought I might like to join the friars, but it was also important for me to experience living on my own.” After continuing conversation with the friars, he became a postulant in 1988 and was received into the novitiate one year later, professing his first vows as a Franciscan in 1990 in Brookline, Mass.
Beginning in Urban Ministry
While in formation, studying under then-novitiate director Daniel McLellan, OFM, Bill was encouraged to learn Spanish. He and classmate Christopher Posch, OFM, went to Bolivia in 1992. Bill stayed six months and returned home in December with a working knowledge of the language and the culture. He made his solemn profession in 1994 at St. Francis Church in New York City.
After earning his theology degree from the Washington Theological Union in 1995, Bill was ordained at St. Anne’s Church in Fair Lawn, N.J. His first assignment was at the Franciscan Center in Wilmington, Del., an urban ministry center.
Bill also ministered with the late Matthew Conlin, OFM, who was pastor of nearby St. Paul Parish. “He was a genius and very humble. At 70, he became pastor of this inner-city parish. I learned a lot from him. He was very impressive.”
In 2001, Bill was assigned to Holy Name of Jesus Church in New York City, where he stayed for two years, working with Jerome Massimino, OFM. Bill said he enjoyed city life after having grown up in rural Upstate New York. He ministered on the Upper West Side during the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and then was called to St. Camillus Church in Silver Spring, Md., in 2003 because the diverse parish needed a bilingual priest.
One year later, Bill was asked to return to Wilmington to serve as pastor of St. Paul Parish. “It was an interesting time because we had the novitiate there, and I was working in the parish with my friend Chris (Posch). It was wonderful. We had 1,000 people come to church on the weekend, 950 of whom were Hispanic. It was an active city, and St. Paul did a lot to promote human rights and worked a lot in the neighborhood.”
The parish also had a school, serving the needs of a largely Hispanic population. But Bill said that being pastor was a lot of pressure and he asked to return to being an associate in 2007. He took a sabbatical to renew and refresh before Dan McLellan asked Bill to join him at Immaculate Conception Church in Durham in 2008.
Balancing Fraternity and Ministry
The assignment seemed perfect for Bill, who said, “It’s like St. Camillus, but further south. With a parish that is half Hispanic and half English, it’s a little bit of everything.” It’s also a large parish, with 3,500 people attending each weekend, something to which Bill is accustomed.
“My ministry has been one of welcoming the immigrant,” he said. “I’ve learned from immigrants and I enjoy celebrating with them. The parishes where I’ve worked are very celebratory, where most of the parishioners have large families, so there are lots of baptisms and weddings.”
In his spare time, Bill enjoys reading and is a news junkie, perusing The New York Times every day. He also likes old movies, a hobby his father got him interested in, and enjoys walking and spending time outdoors.
He makes sure he visits often with his family, relishing the time with his nieces and nephews, who range from toddlers to teens. While he enjoys a good meal, he admits that he is not a great cook. Bill said he is grateful that the friars with whom he lives are skilled in the kitchen.
“We try to balance our ministry with our fraternal needs, being mindful of morning and evening prayer,” he said. “We also have dinner together. We try to balance our interior life and our communal life and get things right.”
He would like to be remembered as someone who didn’t impose, but invited people to know God’s love, and that “I walked with them and was able to be with them, welcoming them to Christ.”
The best part of being a member of Holy Name Province, Bill said, is being among a long line of friars who have lived the Gospel and are very welcoming. “I’m grateful to the Province and look forward to being with the friars in the future.”
He also looks forward to taking an anniversary trip next summer with his classmates to the missions in California.
— Wendy Healy, a Connecticut-based freelance writer, is the author of Life is Too Short: Stories of Transformation and Renewal after 9/11.