SANTA BARBARA–Five men professed their first vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience as Franciscan friars here at Old Mission Santa Barbara.
On August 6, 2018, the Feast of Transfiguration, Friars Jason Damon OFM, James La Grutta OFM, Michael Lomas OFM, Antonio Luevano OFM, and Luis Manuel Rosado OFM, professed their first vows to Provincial Ministers David Gaa OFM and Kevin Mullen OFM.
The service began with the song “These Alone Are Enough,” reminding the five men and all the friars that God’s love and grace alone are enough. This grace flows from the moment of our baptism, which was recalled by the pouring of holy water during the song, followed by the sprinkling rite.
The reading chosen by the newly professed friars was from Gospel according to St. Matthew, where Jesus reminded his disciples not to worry about what to eat and wear, but to seek first the kingdom of God. Friar Kevin Mullen, who proclaimed the Gospel and gave the reflection, called to mind St. Francis’ Letter to All the Faithful that “listening to the Word of God is the key dynamic of our life.” As the five men continue their journey in the Franciscan life, they were reminded to always trust in the providence of God as proclaimed in the Gospel reading.
For the profession part of the ceremony, each friar had two friar-witnesses as his provincial received his vows. Jason, James, and Luis chose to have Friars Ross Chamberlain and Eric Lopez as their witnesses. Michael and Antonio’s vows were witnessed by Friar John Gutierrez, their former postulant director, and Friar Arturo Noyes.
The new novitiate class of 2018-2019 played a major role in the festivities. They helped with the music, prayers, and reading during the liturgy. The novices also stepped up to the plate to cook for all the invitees at the reception and took care of the cleanup afterward, including making the guest bedrooms after their departures.
The service concluded with Friar Jason Damon representing his class in thanking the novitiate team: Sr. Susan Rosenbach SSSF, and Friars Michael Blastic OFM, Michael Jennrich OFM, and Jeff Macnab OFM. He also thanked the staff, parishioners, and friar community at Old Mission Santa Barbara, and friars who came near and far to be present on this special day, including the Conventual Friars from their novitiate in nearby Arroyo Grande.
Profiles of the Newly Professed
Jason Damon OFM is from South Wales, N.Y. While studying for his B.A. in history and a minor in political science at St. Bonaventure University, he frequently participated in the prayer life of the Franciscans there. He desires a life and vocation with meaning, “to wake up every day with the goal of helping people.” After profession, Jason will move to Chicago to begin his theological studies at Chicago Theological Union (CTU) in order to pursue ordination as a friar-priest.
James La Grutta
James La Grutta OFM is a native of Beacon, N.Y. He met the friars while pursuing his bachelors in political science degree at Siena College. His inspiration came mostly from the Franciscans’ direct work with the poor and the disenfranchised, particularly in a fraternal setting. He will also move to Chicago to pursue a master’s in divinity.
Michael Lomas OFM was born in Visalia, Calif., and grew up in San Jose. He started in the bachelor’s program in philosophy at Holy Names University in Oakland. He also worked as a youth and young adult minister for the diocese of San Jose. This led to an encounter with a former friar was working for the diocese, who inspired Michael to join the Franciscans. He hopes to continue his passion for working with youth. After profession, he plans to complete his B.A. in philosophy at the University of San Diego while living at Mission San Luis Rey in Oceanside.
Antonio Luevano OFM hails from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. He holds a B.A. in religious studies from Humboldt University. While working for the Diocese of San Bernardino, he attended the Franciscan School of Theology in Oceanside. His interactions with friar students and professors there inspired him to join the Franciscans. After profession, he will move to Mission San Luis Rey to finish his master’s degrees in divinity and theological studies at FST.
Luis Rosado OFM is a native of Puerto Rico. He has an associate degree in criminal justice and is also a certified and experienced emergency medical technician. He first discovered the friars through the Holy Name Province website and was attracted by their ministerial outreach and fraternal spirit. He will begin his theological studies for ordination at CTU as well.
The Profession Ceremony
You can watch the profession ceremony at Old Mission Santa Barbara here:
Video by the author. All still photos by Friar Octavio Duran OFM.