16 Men Begin Lives as Franciscans

16 Men Begin Lives as Franciscans

By Matt Ryan and Joshua Tagoylo

SILVER SPRING, Maryland — On Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017, 16 postulants entered the postulancy program for the Order of Friars Minor in the US, at Holy Name College here.

They are:

Andrew Aldrich

Andrew Aldrich

Andrew Aldrich, 26, is from Mishawaka, Indiana.

Matt Lorch

Matt Lorch

Matt Lorch, 40, is from Indianapolis, Indiana.

Loren Moreno

Loren Moreno

Loren Moreno, 33, is from New York City.

Matt Ryan

Matt Ryan

Matt Ryan, 46, is from Covington, Kentucky.

Andrew Dinegar

Andrew Dinegar

Andrew Dinegar, 51, is from New York City.

Rafael Ozoude

Rafael Ozoude

Rafael Ozoude, 22, is from Lagos, Nigeria.

John Neuffer

John Neuffer

John Neuffer, 33, is from Durham, North Carolina.

Josh Tagoylo

Josh Tagoylo

Josh Tagoylo, 24, is from Hayward, California.

Ian Grant

Ian Grant

Ian Grant, 33, is from North Brunswick, New Jersey.

Daniel Mayer

Daniel Mayer

Daniel Mayer, 24, is from Houma, Louisiana.

Richard Phillip

Richard Phillip

Richard Phillip, 40, is from Camden, New Jersey.

Nhan Ton

Nhan Ton

Nhan Ton, 40, is from Saigon, Vietnam.

Chase Lopez

Chase Lopez

Chase Lopez, 27, is from Storm Lake, Iowa.

Salvador Mejia

Salvador Mejia

Salvador Mejia, 47, is from Acambaro, Mexico.

Carlos Portillo

Carlos Portillo

Carlos Portillo, 32, is from San Vicente, El Salvador.

Steven Young

Steven Young

Steven Young, 29, is from Canton, Massachusetts.

As you can see, we have men from a diverse group of ages and heritages. God is good! After orientation, we took part in an in-house compass retreat, where we shared with each other and reflected on the directions our lives are taking.

Our first weekend, we joined the friars at the church of St. Francis of Assisi in New York City to witness the Aug. 26 solemn vows of Friars Casey Cole OFM, and Ramoncito Razon OFM. The solemn profession of our brothers before the Franciscan community, including our MinisterGeneral, was a poignant way to mark so many fresh beginnings.

On Aug. 31, Friar Mark Soehner OFM, the provincial minister of St. John the Baptist Province, was the celebrant for a welcome Mass at Holy Name College, officially marking the beginning of the United States’s first interprovincial OFM postulancy program. Members of the formation team presented each postulant with a Tau cross that was handmade by one of the novices, Friar Luis Rosado.

The secretaries of formation – Friars Martin Ibarra OFM (St. Barbara Province), Carl Langenderfer OFM (St. John the Baptist), Ralph Parthie OFM (Sacred Heart), and Kim Studwell OFM, (Assumption BVM) – as well as friars from Holy Name College and St. Camillus Parish – all joined in the Eucharist and ceremony. They were followed by a festive social and dinner. The postulants look forward to a fruitful year of discernment and service.

Matt Ryan and Joshua Tagoylo are members of the 2017-18 postulant class.

US Franciscans Protest DACA Rescission

US Franciscans Protest DACA Rescission

The provincial ministers of the US Franciscan provinces have spoken out against President Donald Trump’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

The 780,000 “dreamers” (those who have received deferred action) are good, generous, talented and hard-working individuals. Many of them we know personally in and through our various  Franciscan ministries. We have celebrated the DACA program with them as a modern response to the Biblical imperative to “welcome the stranger.” Now, after President Trump’s decision to end the executive action, we commit ourselves to stand in support of and solidarity with “dreamers.”

They “urge all members of the communities we serve to condemn this unnecessary and harmful order by President Trump. Furthermore, [they] call upon all to contact their members of Congress and urge them to pass legislation that will fully welcome dreamers to our nation, remove the permanent shadow of their temporary status and make it illegal to deport or harm them.”

In doing so, the provincial ministers join the US Catholic Bishops in advocating for the bi-partisan “Dream Act of 2017,” H.R.3440 and S. 1615.

The full statement can be read and downloaded here:

US Franciscans Look to Future

US Franciscans Look to Future

The provincial ministers and members of the six provincial councils of the Franciscan Provinces of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Holy Name, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Sacred Heart, Saint Barbara and St. John the Baptist – over 40 friars in all – met at Mt. Alvernia Retreat in Wappingers Falls, N.Y., Aug. 21-25, 2017. They continued their work planning the revitalization and restructuring of their six provinces. This work has been on-going since they met as a group for the first time in Milwaukee, Wisc. in 2012.

Last year at a similar meeting in Techny, Ill., the provincial councils decided to prepare, with the help of friar experts, a document entitled “Making Fraternity our Mission” to examine how to pursue the revitalization of their fraternal life and mission. Besides leading extensive discussion of that paper throughout their provinces, the provincial ministers asked several existing groups of friars and lay cooperators engaged in the same administrative and internal ministries of the provinces, such as communicators, vocation and formation directors, and JPIC animation to come together to explore how to take a national approach to their work.

Among the groups reporting to the friars were their provincial treasurers and chief financial officers, who concluded that each of the provinces is individually financially stable, while also having the funds to support any collective action they wish to take. They also explored demographic and actuarial information which showed all of the Provinces facing the same critical challenges with regard to the aging of their membership over the next five to twenty years.

After careful consideration, the six provincial ministers, in the midst of prayer and ritual on Wednesday morning, voted unanimously to place before simultaneous chapters of their six provinces late next May a resolution requesting that the minister general and his definitorium restructure their fraternal governance so as to create one new province from the six provinces engaged in this process.

As they voted, the provincial ministers each made simple statements of why they voted as they did:

Friar Kevin Mullen OFM, of Holy Name Province, said, “One new province provides us with the opportunity to have a vital fraternal experience. With regard to mission, one new province allows us to take the core values of Franciscan life and implement them in a unified way, and with regard to the Church and the Kingdom, to make us more responsible to the promptings of the Spirit in the world and in the Church.”

Friar David Gaa OFM, of Saint Barbara Province, stated, “True revitalization requires a critical mass of younger brothers which one new province will make possible.”

Friar Tom Nairn OFM, of Sacred Heart Province, explained how listening to members of other provinces and the quality of the input on the first day of the Wappingers Falls meeting led several members of his provincial council to change their minds to favor one new province rather than two.

Friar James Gannon OFM, of Assumption BVM Province, added that voting for one new province acknowledges what is already happening as, “Our initial formation programs are united and that lines us up to move this way.”

Friar Mark Soehner OFM, of St. John the Baptist Province, remarked, “One new province will increase opportunities for strong guardians and dynamic communities, broaden our perspective as a national group, and finally we do this because God is inviting us to become more of a ‘joyful band of missionary disciples,’ as Pope Francis has invited all Christians to be.”

Finally, Friar Jack Clark Robinson OFM, of Our Lady of Guadalupe Province, said, “As John David Vaughn (first-elected U.S. minister general) once said to me, ‘Friars do not exist to serve structures. Franciscan structures – such as they are – exist to support Franciscan life and ministry. It is time for the least structure to serve the most friars.”

The day after the vote, friars were still talking about the power of the voting and attendant prayer ritual which concluded with friars, most often of different provinces, blessing and fraternally embracing one another, after praying, “Lord, You have given us the gift of Your call to Franciscan life, to Franciscan community and to Franciscan ministry. This day, You have called us to a great work as brothers. So we ask Your help to strengthen one another, that our work may be a good work, that it may truly be Your work.”

The friars were encouraged to pursue on-going renewal by taking time for prayer and reflection by Friar Michael A. Perry OFM, the minister general of the Order of Friars Minor who came from Rome in order to be a part of the meeting. Friar Caoimhin O’Laoide OFM, the English-speaking general definitor of the order spent the entire week with the friars and reflected powerfully for them at Thursday celebration of the Eucharist.

The minister general led a morning of recollection Thursday after the vote. He shared his joy and excitement at seeing the leadership teams of the six provinces coming together. “Your work is important for the future of the world-wide order as a demonstration of our ability to build bridges and cross boundaries in a world which seems too often divided,” he said.

Later Friar Michael went through the mechanics of the process which will follow the votes at the provincial chapters next May. As he outlined it, that process will include the appointment of an official delegate of the minister general, who will conduct at least two visitations of the friars and those with whom they work in various ways. Those visitations will result in reports to be considered by the general definitorium. After consideration of those reports, the minister general and general definitorium will name an initial administration and set the time for the formal establishment of the new province, probably no earlier than the fall of 2022.

One of the next steps to advance the conversation will be a national survey of every friar in the six provinces regarding what they see as necessary to move the process forward. Before the vote of the six provinces next May, the provincial ministers will also invite their friars to attend one of two large regional gatherings of friars, as well as numerous other face-to-face gatherings of smaller groups, to participate in numerous local discussions of the proposal with materials prepared for use across the country. They will also make use of videos, YouTube, Facebook and other social media, to include friars who are unable to attend.

The 900 friars of the six provinces will also have various possibilities to discuss the revitalization of their life and ministries in smaller groups. These small groups will talk about our internal life, but also about ways to go to the peripheries and margins where friars are not currently engaged. The leadership of the six provinces left Wappingers Falls with a clear, agreed-upon plan of action for the next nine months.

After the vote in May, the ministers are already looking forward to gathering next summer to continue what everyone gathered in Wappingers Falls this year found to be an exciting and life-giving fresh start to Franciscan life in the United States.

​As one friar reflected, “Ignatius Brady (a very distinguished late Franciscan scholar) once said that ‘Every novice must refound the Franciscan Order in his own heart.’ What we are doing now is our own refounding of the Order all over again in our time and place, but with lots of years of experience and lots of brothers to help us!”

Eight Men Enter Franciscan Novitiate

Eight Men Enter Franciscan Novitiate

SANTA BARBARA, California — Some 30 friars, novitiate team members, and staff gathered in the Friars Chapel at Old Mission Santa Barbara here on Aug. 21, 2017, to witness the reception of eight men into the interprovincial novitiate. The program was moved to California this summer from its previous location in Burlington, Wisc.

The new novices are:

  • Michael Cerretti (29; Carey, North Carolina)
  • Jason Damon (23; Buffalo, New York)
  • Troy Hillman (24; Olean, New York)
  • James La Grutta (28; Goshen, New York)
  • Michael Lomas (29; Cupertino,California)
  • Antonio Luevano (28; Rancho Cucamonga, California)
  • Domingo Martinez (28; Aiken, South Carolina)
  • Luis Manuel Rosado-Colombani (45; Villalba, Puerto Rico)

The incoming novices represent two of the seven OFM provinces in the US: six from Holy Name Province; two from St. Barbara Province.

New novices and team members (Front, l to r) Novices James La Grutta, Michael Cerretti, Luis Manuel Rosado-Colombani, Domingo Martinez, Michael Lomas, Jason Damon, Antonio Luevano, Troy Hillman. (Back, l to r) Novitiate Team members: Friar Jeff Macnab OFM, Sister Susan Rosenbach SSSF, Friar Michael Blastic OFM, Friar Kevin Schroeder OFM. (Photo by: Brother Friar Tandy OFM)

Friar John Hardin OFM, former provincial minister, welcomed the new novices and those assembled on behalf of the Province of St. Barbara. John, who is also Guardian at Old Mission Santa Barbara, introduced members of the local fraternity as well as members of the Old Mission staff and administration. He thanked Jim Balsitis, director of facilities at the Old Mission, for overseeing—in record time– the extensive remodeling of the former retreat center into the new novitiate facility. And he also introduced Executive Director Monica Orozco, who welcomed the program saying: “Thank you for returning to what we were built for.”

After Scripture readings by novitiate team member Sister Susan Rosenbach, SSSF, and Friar Phillip Polk OFM, Director of Novices Friar Jeff Macnab OFM shared some brief remarks. He recalled that just a few weeks previously, on August 2, the departing class of last year’s novitiate had “closed a chapter” in their lives together, each of them to go on to start a new one.  “This moment now we all have come here together, many of us traveling long distances, with moving vans, UPS, and suitcases . . . to begin our new chapter,” he told the novices. “In the writings of St. Francis, we learn the instruction to pick up scattered pieces of the Word of God we might find and then to put them where they are supposed to be… All of us are pieces of the Word of God. What’s nice about community… is that we help each other put ourselves into the places where we are supposed to be. That we are not isolated but have support and care. . . . We will be with you to help.”

Jeff continued: “Brothers, the novitiate is more than just you. . . . It’s a place to gather, to meet; a place of support, of hospitality. Because the novitiate is one of the most sacred places that a province of the Order has. It’s a place where things develop.“ Jeff went on to extend an invitation to professed friars to visit: “In the old days, the novitiate was a place that pushed you away… You are invited to come to share our life, to share your life (with us)… You’ll ask ‘Why do you have so many rooms?’ Well, we have a larger section of guest rooms. It’s a symbol to let you know you are invited and welcome here.”

In expressing his appreciation to the Old Mission staff and resident friars, Jeff said “We are so grateful to you. Our way of life would not be possible without you.” He concluded by reminding the new novices that “ You will find our humanness very quickly. We are not saints… You are entering into the human experience of the Incarnation.” To the friars present, he repeated: “ Help them write their story… (Together) we can help each other pick up the scraps of the Sacred Word and put them where they should be.”

Each of the new novices received a blessing and welcome from Friar John and novitiate team members: Friar Jeff Macnab OFM, Sister Susan Rosenbach SSSF, Friar Michael Blastic OFM and Friar Kevin Schroeder OFM before adding his signature to the novitiate roll. Friars Didacus Clavel and Garret Edmonds served as official witnesses.

A complete video of the event is available on the Facebook page of the Franciscan Friars Province of Saint Barbara.

There is also a Facebook page for the novitiate.

Provincials and Councils Decide on One US Province

Provincials and Councils Decide on One US Province

WAPPINGERS FALLS, N.Y. – The OFM provincial ministers of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Most Holy Name of Jesus, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Sacred Heart, Saint Barbara and Saint John the Baptist provinces gathered with their provincial councils at Mount Alvernia Retreat Center here from Aug. 21-25, 2017, to further the discernment of renewal and revitalization of the life and ministry of their friars.

On Aug. 23, 2017, they voted unanimously to place before their provinces for a vote at extraordinary chapters in May 2018 a resolution that the General Minister and General Council of the Order of Friars Minor approve a formal process to reconfigure their six existing provinces into one new province.

Nine Franciscans Profess First Vows

Nine Franciscans Profess First Vows

BURLINGTON, Wisc. — On August 2, 2017, nine men professed first vows in the novitiate chapel at St. Francis Friary here.

As friars, friends, and sisters gathered together for this wonderful occasion, the tone of the day was set starting with the first reading. The first line of Isiah 61:1-3 read “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me.” The novitiate year, the second year of formation, is one that was described by many throughout the ceremony as “a personal journey about faith and learning who you are.” Those journeys can be overwhelming at times but with the help of God’s presence, it can also be a gift and a way to learn how to better serve him in everyday life.

Novice Director Jeff MacNab addresses the novices.

Director of Novice, Friar Jeff Macnab OFM, told the novices, “The work we have done this year is the start of a story. Today may mark the end of a wonderful chapter but you are far from the end of the book. Going forward, share your story and grow from your experiences but don’t forget this chapter you’ve built together for it will be what you build upon.”

During the Ceremony, provincial ministers received vows from friars:

  • James Bernard OFM, 51, of New York City, N.Y.
  • Nicholas Carbuto OFM, 30, of Long Island, N.Y.
  • John Paul Carroll OFM, 35, of Athlone, Ireland
  • Stephen Kuehn OFM, 36, of Annapolis, Md.
  • Mathieu Gabriel Lacerte OFM, 36, of Trois-Rivières, Québec, Canada
  • Thomas Marchetti OFM, 24, of Reklaw, Texas
  • Adolfo Navarro Blanco OFM, 42, of Costa Rica
  • Bradley Tuel OFM, 44, of the Bay Area, Calif.
  • Kestas Watson OFM, 24, of Norwich, England

After every brother knelt and professed their vows for the next year, they received a knotted cord as a symbol of their promise and signed the Book of Life.

“When we first gathered, I started a metronome for you all and we talked about finding each of our rhythms. While difficult, we each found it and eventually all became synced together in the journey towards today,” said Friar Jeff.

One of the most moving parts of the day was when the newly professed brothers offered up intentions for those in attendance, for the sick and dying, and for spiritual guidance in their next journey as Franciscans.

Friar Bradley Tuel makes his first vows to live the Rule of St. Francis.

The profession of simple vows is an important milestone in the life of a Franciscan Friar. It marks the end of a year-long novitiate period for nine men who professed vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. After each novice did so in front of their provincial minister, they, in turn, received a cord with three knots symbolizing those vows.

August 2 is a special day for Franciscans as it is the feast of the Portiuncula. The Chapel of St. Mary of the Angels (the Portiuncula, meaning “Little Portion”) is the small chapel in the valley below Assisi. It became the birthplace of the Order of Friars Minor and also the Poor Clare nuns, as it was here where St. Clare entered into religious life. It would also be on the grounds of this chapel where St. Francis ended his life on earth.

Included in the ceremony was a large thank you to the novitiate team of Friars Jeff, Michael Blastic OFM, and Kim Studwell OFM, and Sister Susan Rosenbach SSSF.

Following the Rite of Profession, those in attendance congratulated Friars Thomas, James, Nicholas, Adolfo, Stephen, Bradley, Kestas, John Paul, and Mathieu with warm wishes and embraces of joy and congratulations. It was followed by a celebratory luncheon in the dining room.

In attendance were friars from various provinces, as well as friars from Canada, England, and Ireland.

The nine newly-professed friars will now enjoy a short stint of vacation before continuing work in their next assignments. The 2017-2018 novices will be received at the new novitiate site in Old Mission Santa Barbara in Santa Barbara, Calif., on August 21. The move will allow for greater collaboration with the novitiates of the Capuchin and Conventual OFM friars who have novitiates nearby.

Written by Andy Tretow, Director of Communications for the ABVM Province of the Franciscan Friars.

 

 

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