Revitalizing the Franciscan presence in Canada — Strength in numbers!

Revitalizing the Franciscan presence in Canada — Strength in numbers!

MONTREAL, Quebec – The OFM Franciscan provinces of St. Joseph (Eastern Canada) and Christ the King (Western Canada) are pleased to announce their upcoming union. This union will mark the end of a process begun several years ago.

​​You are invited to the public celebration, which will mark this amalgamation:

Monday, October 22, 2018, at 7 p.m.
St. Albert Church
7 St. Vital Avenue
St. Albert, Alberta

​This historical union will merge the two Canadian Franciscan provinces into one entity facing a future that is rich with promise.

During this Liturgy of the Word, the name of the new provincial minister of the province will be announced. The new logo representing the new entity will also be unveiled at that time.

Following the union of the two Canadian Franciscan provinces, the new province will include 87 Franciscan brothers from the ages of 32 to 97.

Currently, Canadian Franciscans are present in Quebec (Montreal, Lachute, Trois-Rivières), British Columbia (Vancouver and Victoria) and Alberta (Edmonton and Cochrane).

The main characteristics of Franciscans are devotion and humility as they live their vows of chastity, obedience and having nothing of their own. The work of the Canadian brothers includes ministry with the poor and the homeless, support work in the area of addictions, parish ministry, retreats, high school chaplaincy, university teaching, and spiritual accompaniment with Secular Franciscans.

“As Canadian Franciscans, we must rebuild our structures for the evangelization of the world of tomorrow. We must draw our inspiration from St. Francis of Assisi, Pope Francis and God himself,” said Friar Jean-Pierre Ducharme OFM, a member of the transition committee.

Animators Plan US-6 JPIC Union

Animators Plan US-6 JPIC Union

CINCINNATI–Unification is not an easy task. That’s what animators from six U.S. provinces discovered when they gathered here Sept. 11-12 to begin the process of forming a national office for Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation.

Their goal: “Bringing together the diversity of JPIC in the different provinces into a new, cohesive shared model,” according to Mr. Russell Testa, Holy Name Province animator and chair of the US–6 group. Hosted by Friar Scott Obrecht OFM, JPIC animator for St. John the Baptist Province, representatives met at historic St. Anthony Friary and National Shrine. Reflecting the geographic range of their provinces, participants came from California, New Mexico, New York, Maryland, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Ohio.

Each province “does JPIC” in its own particular way, with issues and priorities differing based on location, culture, budgets, personnel and staff support. After much discussion and rewriting of scenarios, animators developed the model for an office that would focus on four main areas of education and service to friars in the new U.S. province:

  • Organize friars in different regions/organize retreats
  • Provide JPIC spirituality and skills training
  • Establish policy and analysis connections (this will help local ministries connect with the best possible local, regional, state, national and global partners)
  • Maintain our Franciscan values as we evaluate current JPIC ministries and decide which ones to take on in the future.

A timetable and proposed process leading up to a final proposal will be sent to the US–6 provincials for their input. Then, it’s back to the drawing board.
Besides creating a model for this new national JPIC Office, animators spent a significant amount of time drafting a document that will be sent to the Secretaries of Formation of the US–6. They consider it crucial to integrate JPIC into all of formation, especially initial formation. This is a critical time to weave Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation not just into the curriculum but into our lives as friars.

Friar Jud Weiksnar OFM of Holy Name Province, the “mover and shaker” in researching and writing the document, is passionate about this issue. “This is an effort to create the possibility that all of our friars will find some area of JPIC that they are deeply interested in, and they can work together with the people they minister with and the people we serve in our ministries,” Jud said.

Immigration is an area of concern to all the provinces in the U.S. as they attempt to find ways to serve the needs of immigrants and refugees. Animators are exploring the establishment of “Sanctuary Houses” and the idea of convening an “Immigration Convocation”. Discussions at the JPIC meeting reflected the interests and passions of each friar. Larry Janezik of Sacred Heart Province has been involved with immigration for a number of years. Reflecting on his ministry he said, “Advocacy is an important part of JPIC work and ministry. It is not centered on Washington, D.C., but [also means] working on issues at a local level.”

While they were in Cincinnati, the JPIC animators took an evening off to tour the city and experience the local cuisine. Cincinnati is famous for its Greek-inspired Skyline Chili and family-owned Graeter’s ice cream. A meal of “Five-Way Chili” (spaghetti, chili, cheese, beans, and onions) was followed by a dessert of Graeter’s ice cream with huge chunks of chocolate. It was the perfect ending to the first day of discussion, deliberation and decisions.
As JPIC animators discovered, there are many factors to consider in creating a national office. Each province has its own “personality,” has different ways of doing things and in many cases works with people of different cultures. Specific justice issues are important in each region. There will be a lot of “letting go” as this new office is created. What will guide this new entity? What will give it direction? What will be the final product that the JPIC animators and their provincial ministers create?

Friar Mark Schroeder OFM from St. Barbara Province is also the JPIC Animator for Our Lady of Guadalupe Province. Having worked with people from many different cultures, he knows that bringing them together is much like bringing together friars from different provinces. What will hold this new structure, this new national JPIC Office, this new province, together?

“All friars follow the Gospel,” Mark said. “If we follow the Gospel then we will be culturally sensitive. JPIC work is always about the ‘Anawim’, the less important, ‘the poor and lowly ones.’ We have a preferential option [for] the poor in our society, and that should be our priority.” So let the Gospel lead us.

Friar Jim Gannon OFM of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Province is the provincial liaison to the ESC-JPIC Animators. He participated in the Cincinnati meeting at various times via telephone conference. Jim had planned to drive to Cincinnati from Milwaukee but was unable to attend because of a change in his schedule.

It seems that the remains of nine friars were being transferred from Sybertsville, Pa., to Beaver Meadows, Pa., to be reinterred. As provincial minister for ABVM, Jim had to be there. Cell phone in hand, overseeing this moving of bodies at the cemetery, he joined in the conversation of the JPIC animators.
They were very grateful to Jim for taking tthe ime to fit them into his schedule as he was busy “caring for creation.”

Juntos Como Hermanos 2018

Juntos Como Hermanos 2018

WASHINGTON, DC – Franciscan friars involved in Hispanic ministry gathered here Sept. 17-20 for the 6th annual Juntos Como Hermanos (“Together as Brothers”) gathering. With special thanks to Friar Edgardo (“Lalo”) Jara OFM and friars from the Inter-provincial Postulancy House in Silver Spring, Md., we had fruitful and inspiring fraternal experience.

Lay Collaboration in the Ministry of the Church — Part One

The theme for this year was the importance of working with the laity and to that end, we had some input from Carmen Nanko Fernandez who has had years of experience working and teaching in the Church, most recently for many years at CTU in Chicago. Carmen challenged us, especially in light of the renewed clergy abuse scandal, to be rigorously honest about naming the reality in which we find ourselves and to not be afraid to move forward together “latinamente”.

She spoke to us about the history and development of the 2005 document “Co-Workers in the Vineyard” which tries to address the question of cooperation and collaboration of laity in the Church, especially dealing with issues of the hierarchy and power struggles which still exist.

Carmen suggests three “movements” that have happened in this regard:

  • Laity as “Object” of Ministry — when the laity was encouraged to basically “pray, pay and obey” and there was really no sense of accompaniment on the part of the clerics who served them. At the same time, there was a sense of the “priesthood of the faithful” that was already taking shape as people found ways to pray that didn’t need clergy to be leaders, e.g., rosary devotions.
  • Laity “in” Ministry — the idea that lay people have a key role to play in their own world of the law office or the hospital or the bakery or the factory. The focus here is on the secular world. With Vatican II came the development of the laity as “full, active participants” in the ministry of the Church. This eventually led to the notion of Lay Ecclesial Ministers working alongside the clergy. Especially among Hispanics however, there has been (and still is) a deep sense of people being under-representation, under-studied and not really welcomed as co-workers. At the same time, there were various local grass-roots movements that started and have continued under the direction of lay people, e.g., Cursillo, Jornadas, Encuentro, etc.
  • With Laity in Mission — a developing sense of shared stewardship along with a sense of lessons that we can and are still learning, e.g., being intentional, understanding particular contexts, “acompañamiento”, OFM itinerancy, popular piety, “conjunto” (not speaking for them), etc.

Carmen concluded her reflections by suggesting that perhaps we could use a new metaphor when we speak of our co-ministry, that of “Fiesta”, which includes the need for various “Padrinos” to take care of different aspects of our work together.

Lay Collaboration in the Ministry of the Church — Part Two

After the more academic approach of Carmen Nanko Fernandez, we heard from Friar Gino Correa OFM about a more pastoral approach to this question of working with the laity, especially in light of our recent vote to become one national province. Quoting our General Minister Michael Perry OFM, Gino encouraged us to allow God to renew us as individuals and as a province, to re-ignite the fire, to seek a “New Jerusalem”, etc.

Gino also challenged us to be aware of the choice between “engagement” and “disengagement” and called us to a new “metanoia”, to go “beyond the mind.”

Seven Priorities of the 2018 Plenary Council

Gino next presented us with the results of the recent Plenary Council which took place in Africa this year. Looking at these seven priorities, we spent some time beginning to apply them to our own context of friars in Hispanic Ministry. It really was the beginning of a much longer conversation, but here are some of the reflections:

  1. Global Crisis of migrants and refugees — our response and responsibility as lesser brothers and men of the Gospel
    • — this should be our #1 priority in that it touches the roots of our Order
    • — we need to unify our voices on this issue, not only here in the United States but also with people in Mexico and Central America
    • — we need to move beyond words to actions
    • — awareness of this issue needs to happen at the level of formation
    • — we can financially support his work more
  2. The lived reality of youth in the Church and the World. The shaping of a Franciscan culture of hospitality.
    • — this should be a priority, but working with young people is a challenge
    • — need to focus on second and third generation of Latinos, who often don’t speak Spanish.
    • — create “encuentro” experiences for young people, even outside of “Church” settings, go to where they are and don’t wait for them to come to us
  3. Becoming Fraternities in Mission. Promoting an ecclesiology of inclusiveness, especially as it relates to the relationship between our lay and clerical brethren.
    • — elect lay brothers as Provincials/Vicars and see what happens
    • — be a model of equality and justice among ourselves as Friars
    • — include our lay brothers in more ministries
    • — as we move toward becoming one province, we should take on a poor, inner-city, bi-lingual mission — where we’ve never been before — perhaps in the city where the new provincial motherhouse will be
  4. Evangelization in the Spirit of Laudato Si. Developing a new ecological vision with a fraternal lifestyle to back it up.
    • — start this in our own houses first, or re-start it
    • — simplicity of life is key
    • — there really is as sense of urgency here
  5. Being Franciscan in a world of constant change and transformation. To be engaged and to make the changes we need to make.
    • — call to a new discernment, to go beyond our comfort zones
    • — look for people who really need us, get rid of “sacred cows”
    • — this priority really speaks to all of the rest, needs the most emphasis
  6. Being visible signs and instruments of peace in the face of contemporary violence in the midst of all that divides and disfigures us.
    • — work with victims of domestic violence, also with gangs
    • — fundamental Franciscan work of reconciliation, instruments of peace
    • — this can be applied to all of the priorities
  7. Embracing the vision of Pope Francis for a renewed understanding of religious life grounded in authentic discipleship and mission.
    • — really a call to transparency and authenticity in our Franciscan life
    • — always involves risks and dangers
    • — call to be baptized people of God, i.e., authentic disciples
    • — need to develop a pastoral plan according to our reality

Check-Ins

The last part of our meeting was dedicated to a kind of “check-in” in terms of what is happening in each of our provinces as well as what we might see as some future possibilities. We spent some time sharing our realities and dreaming of some possibilities. What is clear is that there is plenty of very good and creative work being done by many friars in the area of Hispanic Ministry, only some of which is represented here in our gatherings. It is our hope to be part of the future discernment on the level of the US Provincials, especially the “US 6” as we move toward becoming one province. We would like to be pro-active in this conversation.

In that regard, for our meeting next year we would like to invite one or more provincials to be present with us as we look to our future with hope. We will also try to engage Dominic Perry to help us in this process, as he has already been involved with friars for some time. In preparation for that, a representative of each province will send a “picture of Hispanic Ministry of the Province” to Friar Efrén Quintero OFM, the convener of Juntos Como Hermanos.

Next Gathering — October 14-17, 2019

We will gather again next year, from October 14-17, at one of the retreat houses of the St. Barbara Province. Oscar Mendez will investigate the possibilities and get back to us.

12 Men Join the Franciscans

12 Men Join the Franciscans

SILVER SPRING, Maryland — “‘Jesus said to his disciples,’ and to us, ‘Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.’ Jesus might have said that you do not know the day, but I know it. That day was yesterday, and today, and tomorrow.”

With these words, Franciscan Provincial Minister Jack Clark Robinson OFM, of Our Lady of Guadalupe Province, exhorted the 12 men entering the postulancy program of six US Franciscan Provinces, on Thursday, August 30, here.

Friar Jack went on to spell out the challenges which the postulants will face: “individual challenges, individual affirmations, meant for you and for you alone….[and] the challenges that we face together. They come in your community here, among the friars of the six provinces, and in the Church in our world.”

The group which will face those challenges are a diverse gathering of ages, backgrounds, and places of origin:

Edgar Alberto

Edgar Alberto

Edgar Alberto, 27. Originally from El Salvador, Edgar met the friars from, Durham, North Carolina. Edgar spent the last year serving as a Franciscan lay volunteer at St. Francis Inn soup kitchen in Philadelphia, Pa.

Fritz Newburger

Fritz Newburger

Fritz Newburger, 22, comes from New Orleans, Louisiana.

Joshua Richter

Joshua Richter

Joshua Richter, 21, comes from Hamilton Ohio.

Bruce Tran

Bruce Tran

Bruce Tran, 29. Originally from Vietnam, Bruce comes from Los Angeles, California.

Gino Grivetti

Gino Grivetti

Gino Grivetti, 21, is from Peoria, Illinois.

José de Jesús Osorio

José de Jesús Osorio

Josè de Jesús Osorio, 26, is originally from Mexico and comes to the friars from Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Daniel Samsel

Daniel Samsel

Daniel Samsel, 26, is from Cleveland Ohio.

Carlos Wagner

Carlos Wagner

Carlos Wagner, 39, is originally from Cali, Colombia, and more recently, New York City, New York.

Adolfo Mercado

Adolfo Mercado

Adolfo R. Mercado, 44, is from Sacramento, California.

Neil Pavao

Neil Pavao

Neil Pavao, 22, is from Douglas, Georgia.

Michael Specht

Michael Specht

Michael Specht, 24, is from St. Bonaventure, New York. Michael worked for one year as a Franciscan lay volunteer in Camden, New Jersey.

Zach Zeman

Zach Zeman

Zach Zeman, 23, from Elgin, Illinois

These men bring a variety of educational preparation: business management, theology, philosophy, anthropology, education, language study, environmental science, global studies. They come to the friars through contact with the Franciscans in their families and parishes, as well as other religious.

The new postulants were welcomed at a Eucharist which was attended by the local friar-community at Holy Name  College, friars from other communities, and the Franciscan lay volunteers based in Silver Spring.

Friar Jack included in his homily a far-reaching prediction for the postulants: “You will, God grant, make solemn profession of vows, five, six or more years from now, into a province not yet born.”

“But our challenge and the hard work that we must do together before your day of solemn profession is to bring that new province into being, by offering our best selves—the best Franciscans each of us can be individually; offering the best of our inheritance from our six mothers (now there is a thought—six mothers!) and offering the best of our dreams, which is where you are so very important, to make that…truly a new sign of the power of God at work to change our world.”

As part of the ceremony, the new postulants were presented with a symbol of the Franciscans, the Tau cross. A friar who just professed his first vows as a Franciscan, Friar Luis Rosado OFM, made the Tau crosses by hand.

New US Franciscans YouTube Channel

New US Franciscans YouTube Channel

US Franciscans has a new YouTube channel!

Our first video is online. It is a video of our five novices taking their first vows as Franciscan friars. More videos are on their way.

So, visit the channel at http://usfran.us/youtube, subscribe to the channel and then enable notifications to be informed everytime a new video is made available.

 

Five Novices Profess First Vows

Five Novices Profess First Vows

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

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

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

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

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.

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